Professor Christopher Lasch, a respected member of our University of Denver community and an influential figure in the field of American clinical legal education, passed away June 13, 2021, after a period of illness.
A graduate of Columbia College and Yale Law School, Chris entered the legal academy in 2006 as a prestigious Robert Cover Clinical Teaching Fellow at Yale, having previously served as a public defender in Louisville, Kentucky, representing clients in capital and other criminal matters at the trial, appellate, and postconviction stages, and as a partner at Goodwin & Lasch, handling civil rights cases, including a successful federal case that permitted jockeys to wear advertising on their uniforms and several successful police abuse cases. He joined the faculty of the University of Denver in 2010, developing and co-directing the Criminal Defense Clinic and securing its stature as one of the nation’s preeminent criminal defense clinics. In 2018, he co-founded the Immigration Law & Policy Clinic, extending the reach of our Student Law Office to the realm of immigration detention. Most recently, he served as Ronald V. Yegge Clinical Co-Director, working to advance our trailblazing and nationally recognized clinical program. He continued to represent capital clients until his death.
A fierce advocate for social justice, a revered teacher, and a scholar of immense range and significance, Chris profoundly shaped the lives of his clients, the professional identities and pathways of his students, and the contours of the multiple areas of law impacted by his scholarship. In collaboration with his clinical students and fellow clinical faculty members, he advocated for clients in the most challenging of legal circumstances, including, most recently, at the complex intersection of criminal law and immigration detention. Through his thoughtful, rigorous, and principled approach to clinical teaching, he impacted the professional identities and careers of numerous students and graduates – including the many who pursued careers of public service in the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, contributing immeasurably to the Office’s excellence and national reputation. His scholarship was equally catalytic and transformative. Among other prominent examples, his 2017 article in the Yale Law Forum, which argued for a common law privilege against arrest in state and federal courthouses, has been widely credited with spurring legislation limiting the ability of law enforcement agencies to arrest undocumented individuals lawfully coming to court pursuant to legal process.
As a law school community, our thoughts are with Chris’s wife Elizabeth Stovall, his son Rain Lasch, and his daughter Grace Noe.
A Memorial Celebration was held July 16, 2021 during which Dean Bruce Smith announced the renaming of the law school's clinic fellows program as the Christopher M. Lasch Clinical Teaching Fellowship Program to honor Chris and his lasting impact.
Contributions in Chris’s memory may be made to the Clinical Programs / Student Law Office at the Sturm College of Law, in support of the Immigration Law & Policy Clinic.