IN THE SPOTLIGHT
$5 million reasons law school experiential programs aid learning
While pursuing a master’s degree in psychology at the College of William & Mary, Mimi Poe volunteered as a phone counselor for a local crisis center.
“There was a recurring theme with so many calls that came in, with concerns ranging from evictions to assaults," she said. “I realized a lot of these issues that so many people faced in their lives were actually legal issues.”
This revelation launched Poe’s academic interest in law. Now a second year law student at the University of Colorado at Boulder, Poe participates in the Clinical Education program, one of a handful of programs that will benefit from a $5 million gift the CU-Boulder School of Law recently received.
The donation, made by local father-and-son philanthropists, will enhance the school’s experiential learning opportunities, which enable students to incorporate real-world practice into their schooling.
Within the clinical program, which operates as CU’s own multi-disciplinary law firm, Poe primarily handles domestic relations cases that span issues from marital dissolutions to allocations of parental responsibilities. “I love the clinic and it was exactly what I needed this year to stay motivated about law school,” she said. “It takes what we’re learning in class and we get to see how it affects people’s lives.”
Poe and Jon White, a second year law student, are partners in the Civil Practice Clinic. White said the school’s reputable clinical program helped convince him to attend CU. “I’m glad I’m at a law school where the administration finds this to be such a valuable component,” he said.
The gift will help the law school establish and staff an overarching Experiential
“It is a remarkable opportunity for us to expand the opportunities for students to learn by doing,” said Deborah Cantrell, associate professor and director of clinical programs. “That’s a kind of learning that stays with you.”
The school’s first task will be finding someone to lead the structured program, Cantrell said. From there, school officials will discuss how to shape the program. “The gift understands that what we need is a moment to be strategic in thinking about forward progress,” Cantrell said. The gift will also allow more students to participate in the experiential learning opportunities, according to a news release from the law school.
The $5 million endowment is the largest of several recent Colorado Law gifts involving Richard F. Schaden and his son, Rick E. Schaden. The elder Shaden, a Longmont resident, is a founding partner of the aviation and public-interest law firm Schaden, Katzman, Lampert and McClune. His son is the founder, chairman and majority shareholder of the Quiznos sandwich chain.
“I believe that experiential education is essential,” Richard F. Schaden said in the release. “This concept gives lawyers in training an opportunity to deal with real people with real problems.”
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