April 24, 2013
Colorado Law will hold the dedication of the clinical facilities at Wolf Law Building on Tuesday, May 7 at 6:00 p.m. The clinical facilities are named in honor of Robert and Laura Hill.
“It resonated with us that what clinics are doing is helping people who really need that help,” said Robert Hill (’70), co-founder of Denver-based Hill & Robbins, P.C. “They are providing an advocate for those who might not otherwise have one.”
Colorado Law currently runs nine clinical programs, taught by clinical faculty who supervise student attorneys on free service work. The clinic offerings include:
Deborah Cantrell, director of clinical programs and associate professor in the Family Law Clinic, said clinics are fundamental to the school’s commitment to give back to the community.
“All of the work we do in the clinical program is free,” Cantrell said. “Free legal services are a scarce resource and I’m really proud that the law school is able to give that scarce resource to the community.”
The clinic program began in 1948 as a student-run program. Colorado Law hired full-time clinical faculty beginning in the 1960s and offered credit to students participating in the programs. Today, clinics serve more than 500 clients every year.
Cecilia (last name redacted for privacy), a client in the Civil Practice Clinic, said that the experience changed her life.
“I felt like it was a dream,” Cecilia said. “I don’t just have a lawyer, I have a friend who I can always feel confident asking about anything I need to know. It’s an amazing team.”
Cecilia also said she could see how the clinic experience and clinical faculty guidance was shaping students’ careers.
“You have people here who are starting out the right way and they are going to be great lawyers,” Cecilia said. “They care about us. I’m not just one of their clients. I feel like a person.”
Brad Bernthal (’01), associate professor of the Entrepreneurial Law Clinic, said clinics have the dual benefit of giving students the opportunity to be lead attorneys while also making an important impact in the community.
“We help clients at a time in which they need it most and provide resources that they otherwise may not be able to get,” Bernthal said. “It’s easy to be enthusiastic about why clinics are a core part of what we do here at Colorado Law.”
Whether representing a local start-up business, juveniles, or indigent clients in need of representation, students take the lead in everything from advising clients to researching, filing pleadings, handling jury trials, and more. Hill said the diversity of opportunities is one of Colorado Law’s greatest strengths.
“I have been impressed at how Colorado Law created a variety of different programs so students can match up their particular interests,” Hill said. “Clinics are an incredibly powerful addition to what students get in the classroom.”
Ann Roan (’89), training director for the Office of the Colorado State Public Defender and adjunct faculty member, also said it is important for students to participate in this kind of hands-on experience to better prepare for their future careers.
“It is difficult to decide what you want to do with your law degree if you never get the opportunity to see what your degree can do for the people you represent,” Roan said. “A law degree can be magical. Lawyers have such a limitless power to do good.”