March 13, 2006
On Saturday, March 11th, Colorado Law students in Professor Amy Schmitz's Humanizing Contracts seminar, presented legal information to a group of Habitat for Humanity homeowners. Students Katie Crenshaw, Julia Kneeland, Maureen Sweeney, Lauren R. Smith, Annie-Caitlin Mattes, and Janel Chin gave presentations on various contracting and consumer protection issues. These topics included consumer protection laws, credit and payday lending, alternative dispute resolution, homeowners' associations, Internet transactions, and bankruptcy. Habitat for Humanity volunteers provided free childcare, pizza and snacks. Saturday's seminar is part of a service-learning course in which law students combine their rigorous academic study with outreach volunteer work.The Humanizing Contracts seminar is unique on many levels from any seminars, courses or clinics currently taught at the law school. It is a journey through theory and practice in an area that students traditionally learn in a more doctrinal manner. It seeks to provide students with opportunity to expand their understanding and analysis of contract law beyond the basic concepts they learn in the first-year Contracts course. Through course work, students explore and question concepts and theories that underlie contract law. The volunteer and outreach components of the course then push students to "humanize" contracts, and consider how legal concepts and theories apply in action. Professor Schmitz' class also volunteered at the Habitat for Humanity thrift store, and will be working on a build in April. The class's key project, however, has been the creation, development, and presentation of the "Habitat for Humanity Homeowners Seminar: Contracting and Consumer Protection." The students all did a wonderful job explaining tough concepts in a very straight-forward and informative manner. The participants asked good questions, and seemed to learn quite a bit. The participants also left with gift bags with various coupons, treats, and other "goodies" for their children to thank them for their participation, as well as colored booklets and brochures expanding on the information discussed in the presentations. Habitat for Humanity now may distribute additional copies of the materials to families who were unable to attend on Saturday.