The world of legal education faces a series of disruptive changes. Challenges to law schools include increasing student debt and, in recent years and likely for the near future, a more difficult employment environment for newly minted law school graduates. Colorado Law is well positioned to continue to provide its students with a high-value experience at a reasonable cost. Notably, we benefit from very talented students, faculty, and staff, a desirable location, and a relatively lean cost structure (including limited reliance on already limited and disappearing state support).
For Colorado Law to thrive, we must, at a minimum, continue to attract outstanding applicants, offer a high-value and affordable education to our students, and place students into satisfying jobs after graduation. Our initial efforts focused principally on career placement are already bearing important and encouraging results; these results underscore that a team effort and well executed strategy can enable us to adapt to a changing environment.
Maintain and improve Colorado Law as a nationally recognized innovator and the regional leader in the changing legal landscape based on the quality of our scholarship, teaching, and curriculum, all of which deliver a high value to our students and serve our communities.
BASIC INITIATIVES WE WILL PURSUE
(specific plans in service of these to be developed)
(1) Identify and recruit incoming students who are most likely to succeed.
(2) Recruit and retain faculty and staff who provide the highest value and to contribute to our vision, supporting scholars and teachers striving to be at the top of their field.
(3) Explore and expand innovative course offerings, teaching methodologies, and educational experiences that will develop the breadth of competencies to enable our students to thrive in a changing professional environment.
(4) Develop a series of external outreach and internal efforts that position our graduates for satisfying and financially sustainable traditional and non-traditional legal jobs.
(5) Manage our financial model, enabling us to weather the decline of state support while holding the line on any future tuition increases. In particular, we must:
(6) Engage our alumni, the legal profession, and our broader community more effectively to support our overall goals and enhance our community, thereby raising the quality of the educational experience and creating opportunities for our students.
(7) Maintain and build on our centers and specialty areas (e.g., natural resources, energy, and environmental law; technology and intellectual property law; entrepreneurial and business law; and public service) that attract students, create opportunities for faculty, staff, students, and alumni, and contribute to the overall community.
Phil Weiser, Dean:
For anyone who’s reading The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, or other newspapers, the challenge that legal education is now facing is not hard to follow: applications are down, jobs are tougher to find, major law firms are doing less hiring and less training. All that is putting burden and strains on legal education, but it’s also creating opportunities – opportunities for law schools that can be entrepreneurial, think about where the puck is going (to use Wayne Gretzky’s metaphor) and find ways to elevate their students and prepare them to thrive. And that’s what we, at Colorado Law are doing, and that’s what our Colorado Law Action Plan is all about.
Deborah Cantrell, Director of Clinical Programs and Associate Professor:
One of the things that the action plan asks of all of us is to try and think through how we can have a learning experience here at the Law School that really sets up our students nicely when they graduate. And of course, being able to work on current cases that are happening in the courts, or happening in the boardrooms, or happening in the legislature – that provides students with a rich opportunity to put their learning into action.
Brad Bernthal, Associate Professor:
The second differentiator is the interpersonal skills that we’re able to develop through our entrepreneurship program. Our students get experience working with entrepreneurs, working with business and entrepreneurial attorneys, as well as working in teams, and that’s the second differentiator that helps contribute to the overall action plan, which is to differentiate Colorado Law’s education from other programs in a way that’s really pushing the boundaries of legal education.
Todd Rogers, Assistant Dean of Career Development:
One of the goals of the action plan is to help students find satisfying meaningful employment after graduation. And, as an office, we have a real dedication to helping students put together a portfolio of skills that will be marketable to employers. Part and parcel of that is making sure that they have job experiences throughout law school that will help them achieve their professional goals.
William Boyd, Associate Professor:
And I think the only way we can do that is by developing a diverse, inclusive, and engaged community, as the Dean says – which is a big part of our action plan – and really going all-in for our students in a way that will give them, not only the intellectual background – the substantive knowledge that they need--but the problem-solving skills and the ability to think outside the box and across disciplines, and be innovative in their approach to problems, and to be able to engage in collaborative multi-stakeholder approaches. And I really believe that. I think law schools, in particular, are very important platforms or institutions for trying to solve these very complex problems that we face as a society.
Ahmed White, Associate Dean for Research and Professor:
Having professors at Colorado Law publish top-quality scholarship contributes to the reputation of the school in several ways: First, it raises our profile among peers at other institutions. Second, the scholarship of the law is valuable to judges and other professionals. And third, top-quality scholarship often garners the interest of national media.
Phil Weiser, Dean:
When we have thought about the action plan, our alumni base, our community, our friends out there are all core to our success. There are many ways you can spend your time, invest your energies, and invest financially in our success. We’re rolling out our Campaign for Colorado Law’s Future, as we reach out to the community, and prepare our current students, we continue to provide the leadership that we, at Colorado Law, are known for, and you can help make this community even better.