Denver Law has long been recognized as a leader in providing students with hands-on, experiential learning opportunities during law school. Building on this strong tradition, Denver Law also offers programs for new JD graduates to gain real-world experience, training, and build relationships that help them successfully transition from law school into the legal profession.
Our goal is to address one of the biggest issues new graduates face: employers want to hire trained, experienced lawyers, but new lawyers can't gain that needed experience to excel in their legal careers unless someone hires them. Denver Law's postgraduate programs are designed to not only provide valuable hands-on, real-world legal training to our graduates but also assist employers with legal staffing while helping them train the next generation of lawyers.
Are there Colorado-Based Organizational Fellowships or Fellowships Only for Denver Law Students? Yes!
The following opportunities were available to the class of 2019:
- Colorado Attorney General’s Office: Work at the Colorado Attorney General’s Office encompasses criminal prosecution, consumer protection, civil rights, torts, contracts, eminent domain, administrative law, tax, environmental law, violence prevention programs, public health, school safety, energy and much more. Applications due Fall of the 3L year (open to law students from all law schools).
- Denver City Attorney’s Office: The City Attorney’s Office serves as the legal adviser to the Mayor, City Council, and all City departments and agencies—work on matters from municipal contracts to prosecution of municipal ordinances to airport law, family law or employment disputes. Applications due Spring of 3L year (Reserved positions for Denver Law students).
- Rural Colorado District Attorney Fellowship: Love the mountains or the plains? Work as a prosecutor in a rural Colorado Jurisdiction. Applications due Spring of 3L year (Reserved positions for Denver Law students).
- Colorado Civil Justice Corps: Work to provide civil legal services to victims of crime—2019 placements included work for nonprofits in immigration law, family law, education law, and protection order practice. Applications due Spring of 3L year (Denver Law Students only).
- Judicial Fellowships: Work for a Judge after graduation. (Denver Law Students only).
- Part-time Policy Fellowships: Work with nonprofits who are writing legislation and advocating for change at the Colorado Capitol (Denver Law Students only).
Be on the lookout for more! Denver Law is always working on developing additional fellowship opportunities.
DU/CU Legal Residency Program
Law graduates, law firms, and legal departments all face a Catch 22: Everyone wants trained, experienced lawyers. Yet few employers —and even fewer clients—are willing to pay to train new lawyers and provide them with the experience they need in order to excel in their legal careers.
The University of Denver Sturm College of Law has partnered with The University of Colorado Law School to pilot an innovative program to the Colorado legal market: the DU/CU Legal Residency Program. The Legal Residency Program centers on a post-graduate experience that provides new graduates with 12-18 months of valuable legal training and experience, and assists employers with legal staffing at reasonable cost while helping to train the next generation of lawyers.
How does the Legal Residency Program work? Participating organizations hire one or more residents from a pool of new JD graduates provided exclusively by the two Colorado law schools. Residents work for a 12 to 18 month term depending on the employer’s needs. Employers are not expected to make permanent offers at the end of a residency, though they may do so at their discretion. The Legal Residency is not envisioned as a substitute for first-year attorney positions. Instead, it is a unique program designed to provide new lawyers with employment and training opportunities that do not currently exist in the marketplace.
Why should my organization consider the Legal Residency Program? Employers have the benefit of cost-effective assistance from residents coupled with the knowledge that they are contributing to the future of the legal profession. They may also end up discovering high-quality legal talent, and can make hiring decisions after seeing their legal resident “in action,” or base hiring decisions on references from others who have worked extensively with a resident. The Legal Residency Program, the first of its kind in the nation, is a testament to the collective efforts of the two law schools and the Colorado legal community to launch the careers of the next generation of lawyers.
How are Legal Residents paid? Participating employers determine pay rates for residents. The expectation is that participating employers will pay a reasonable wage, understanding that it will be adjusted downward from traditional entry-level salaries to reflect the different nature of the position (essentially an apprenticeship). For more information regarding how an employer may best determine appropriate salary levels for legal residents, please contact Assistant Dean of Career Development and Opportunities Eric Bono.
How are residents supervised, mentored and trained? We ask that employers provide substantive legal or policy work, appropriate supervision and meaningful feedback. We also suggest employers create learning plans and consider entering into agreements with residents that are modeled on the requirements of the Denver Law Legal Externship Program. Under that model, employers and residents establish a Learning Agenda which outlines the type of work the resident performs, the types of skills the resident builds and work-related experiences that strengthen the resident’s professional identity. Of course, the Learning Agenda also establishes the employer’s expectations and sets up a mechanism for regular, meaningful feedback. We are happy to assist employers with this piece of the program upon request. Denver Law will stay in touch with its legal residents, hosting regular meetings/seminars and providing them an opportunity for reflection on their apprenticeship efforts.
How do I hire a Legal Resident?
Employers interested in hiring a legal resident are encouraged to contact Eric Bono, Assistant Dean for Career Opportunities at 303-871-6478 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Solo Practice Grant Program
Going straight into solo practice can be an attractive and professionally fulfilling option for an entrepreneurial new lawyer. The Solo Practice Grant Program provides financial support for new JD graduates to assist them in opening solo practices within LawBank, an innovative and acclaimed co-working environment for solo and small firm practitioners in Denver. With high-quality office space at two convenient locations in metropolitan Denver, LawBank fosters mentoring, interaction and collaboration amongst participating lawyers while also providing private work space to help preserve client confidentiality. This unique, collaborative environment is ideal for newly-minted solo practitioners who, for a modest co-payment of about $50 per month, can build their own practice while benefiting from mentoring and guidance provided by more experienced practitioners.
During their studies at Denver Law, students can prepare for the business side of private practice with a suite of courses in law practice management, including:
- Introduction to Small Practice Management
- Accounting for the Small Legal Practice
- Business Development: Marketing and Client Service
- Legal Practice Seminar
“The program made me comfortable to go out on my own. It gave me the confidence to say that I had my law school backing me,”
- Alex Buscher, JD'18.
Access to Justice:
The Solo Practice Grant Program also provides the opportunity for new JD graduates to address the access-to-justice gap. As a condition for participating in the Solo Practice Grant Program, grantees agree to provide a specified amount of pro bono legal services, which may include serving indigent clients. Because they do not shoulder the full costs of starting a legal practice, grantees who begin their legal practices at LawBank are also well-positioned to serve the growing market of potential modest-means clients who do not qualify for legal aid services, but who are routinely priced out of the legal services market.
“Getting traction, building a book of business, and networking with other solo practitioners who are making it work is priceless. It’s hard for me to overstate how important the Solo Practice Grant has been to the launch of my solo practice. I’m sure I’d be struggling to gain clients, gain mentors and colleagues and to gain the confidence I need to make my practice successful,” Patricia Mellen, JD'16
Solo Practice Grant Program Puts Recent Graduates on the Path to SuccessIn order to help graduates start their own law practice and build a solid foundation for a successful career, the University of Denver Sturm College of Law created the Solo Practice Grant Program in 2013.
Five 2019 Graduates Named Colorado Civil Justice Corps FellowsEarlier this year, the Office for Victims Program (OVP), a unit of the Division of Criminal Justice within the Colorado Department of Public Safety, announced a $2 million grant to create the Colorado Civil Justice Corps (CCJC) Fellowship. The program helps Colorado nonprofits access legal resources while also launching the careers of five University of Denver Sturm College of Law class of 2019 graduates focused on public interest law.
Alison Heinen, 3L, Named 2019 Equal Justice Works FellowWhen you ask Alison Heinen, third-year law student at the University of Denver Sturm College of Law, about her professional goals, working toward the public good is at the foundation of all her plans.