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Legal Externships Fall 2017 Updates

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Greetings from Denver Law’s Legal Externship Program!

I am excited to report that this is a time of tremendous growth for Denver Law externships. In 2016-17, we placed 418 students in more than 520 externships, and worked with over 310 supervisors. Summer enrollment alone increased by 50 percent!

As always, our students engaged in a robust set of activities, growing their skills and impacting real people and real issues. Students wrote petitions of certiorari for Colorado Supreme Court justices, helped lawyers with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission prepare for a trial regarding religious discrimination for Muslim workers, crafted arguments for cutting edge litigation regarding the cannabis industry, and supported a state task force pursue legislation on mental health support for the criminal justice system, among many other experiences. This year we also expanded the type of work that students are able to complete, offering robust opportunities within legislative organizations, compliance departments, and research divisions.

To complement their work in the field, this summer we launched new, innovative companion seminars – seminars that allow students to self-select based on their interests, and study subjects that are current and relevant to the practice of law and to the development of one’s professional identity. For example, faculty members taught seminars on Women and the Workforce; Social Media Law and Practice; General Litigation Skills; Managing Stress and Maintaining Balance; and Critical Legal Skills.

2016-17 also marked our first full academic year of paid externships, which allowed us to provide our students with the opportunity to gain high-quality practical training while making a dent in their law school debt. Students and supervisors both report positive experiences – supervisors invest in our students’ development and our students receive thoughtful, diverse, and challenging work. On average, twenty percent of our externs receive pay each semester.

This past summer, we were delighted to partner with the dean’s suite, our career and development opportunities office, and the student organization PILG (Public Interest Law Group), to provide stipends to 26 Denver Law students working in unpaid public interest and public service positions. Our goal for this initiative was to make it easier for students to pursue opportunities in the public interest – and, accordingly, to benefit from the distinctive professional satisfaction that such opportunities provide. From providing legal services to immigrant youth in New York City, to pursuing water rights on behalf of the attorney general’s office, to promoting disability access in schools and workplaces here in Colorado, our externs contributed their talents to a range of communities and causes within Colorado and across the country.

And finally, a note on a few of our Specialty Programs, which continue to provide intensive, tailored instruction and support to our students both in the field and the classroom. For example, the Semester in Practice (SiP) program remains a clear pathway to employment, with nearly every student in the program’s six-year history securing a position as a lawyer at the SiP placement or at a placement secured via relationships developed because of SiP. Offered to students in their last year, SiP allows students to develop practice skills and hone their professional identity by working full time at their placement and participating in a three credit seminar with other SiP externs. Additionally, our Jefferson County Prosecution Immersion Program saw its greatest enrollment last summer, with students handling their own cases in County Court, writing appellate briefs, examining pardon applications, and supporting lawyers in more particular units like human trafficking and special victims.

Here at Denver Law we remain enthusiastic about helping our students find that perfect fit, where the head, heart, and hands meet. We look forward to continuing to grow our program, respond to student interests, and identify placements in growing areas of law practice.

Faculty Highlights

Associate Professor of the Practice Alexi Freeman

Awards

Outstanding Faculty/Staff Mentorship Award, Student Bar Association (2017)

Faculty Career Champion Recognition by University of Denver (2017)

Publications

Positive Disruption: Addressing Race in a Time of Social Change Through a Team-Taught, Reflection-Based, Outward-Looking Law School Seminar (with Lindsey Webb), University of Pennsylvania Journal of Law and Social Change (forthcoming 2017).

From Symposium to Action: Five Ways for Law Schools to Bridge the Gap Between Students & Marginalized Communities, 94(1) Denver Law Review (Spring 2017).

Presentations

Facilitator, Denver District Attorney’s Office, Contextualizing Criminal Justice: The New Jim Crow, Denver, CO (June-August 2017 summer reading series).

Panelist, AALS 2017 Clinical and Experiential Law Program Directors Workshop, “Thinking Outside of the Box: Externship Seminars as Avenues for Training Students to Advance Social Change” , Denver, CO (May 7, 2017).

Panelist, AALS 2017 Conference on Clinical Legal Education Law Clinics Directors Workshop “Assessing and Defining Externship Programs in Tumultuous Times” (May 6, 2017).

Moderator, 2017 Denver Law Review Symposium: Justice Reinvestment: The Solution to Mass Incarceration, “What is Justice Reinvestment?”, Denver, CO (February 2, 2017).

Panelist, AALS 2017 Annual Conference, “Transformative Learning: Helping Students Discover Motivation, Values, and Voice,” San Francisco, CA (January 6, 2017).

Panelist, SALT 2016 Teaching Conference, “Advancing Social Justice in the Classroom: The Pledge for the Public Good,” Chicago, IL (September 30, 2016).

Panelist, SALT 2016 Teaching Conference, “Collaboration, Creativity, and Criminal Law: Transforming the Way We Teach about Race,” Chicago, IL (October 1, 2016).

Presenter, ABA Standards and Externships, Supervising Attorney CLE, University of Denver (September 28, 2017)

Visiting Assistant Professor of the Practice Colleen Scarola

Appointments

Denver Law Career & Professional Development Steering Committee (2017)

Board Secretary, Denver Area Legal Recruiters Association (2017-2018)

Awards

Faculty Career Champion recognition by University of Denver (2017)

Panels

Presenter, ABA Standards and Externships, Supervising Attorney CLE, University of Denver (September 28, 2017)

Visiting Assistant Professor of the Practice Michael Kovaka

Presenter, “Paid Externships,” Denver Area Legal Recruiters Association (March 21, 2017).

Presenter, ABA Standards and Externships, Supervising Attorney CLE, University of Denver (September 28, 2017)