Schaden Chair in Experiential Learning: Marianne Wesson
Experiential Learning Program Director: Andy Hartman
The case method and teaching by Socratic dialogue have been around for 160 years. And Colorado Law still use them effectively to teach critical analysis—thinking like a lawyer. However, the greatest change in legal education has been the introduction of multiple opportunities for practical experience. Experiential education includes lawyering activities outside the classroom—clinics, externships, appellate and trial competitions, and voluntary public service work—as well as experientially-oriented classroom learning. The Experiential Learning Program gives coherence to our entire curriculum and fulfills the school’s mission of providing a well-rounded learning experience. It builds linkages between experiential education and in traditional classroom teaching.
Colorado Law’s Clinical Education Program started in 1948 and now serves 700 clients each year. They provide practical learning experiences for our students, much-needed assistance to those less fortunate in our community, and invaluable service to the public good.
Externships, internships for academic credit, involve substantive legal work at a government agency or non-profit organization. Students may work in all three branches of the government, at all three levels of government, including state and federal judicial chambers, executive agencies, and congressional offices. Students may also extern with nonprofit organizations. Students develop professional lawyering skills, gain insight into various aspects of the legal system and profession, and cultivate a sense of professional responsibility.
Law students compete in appellate and trial court competitions to develop skills in appellate brief writing and oral argument, and gain valuable trial practice experience. Colorado Law teams have consistently been extremely competitive and the law school participates in and hosts more competitions each year. Selection of teams varies by competition.
In this voluntary Public Service Pledge Program, Colorado Law students pledge to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours of law-related service during their time at the school. For those students who complete the hours, their public service is recognized on the students’ transcript. Faculty can help connect law students with organizations and lawyers who need pro bono assistance. In addition, the program became one of four collaborative model projects for CU's Institute for Ethical and Civil Engagement.
Colorado Law stands out from many other top schools with its wide range of innovative courses focused on various forms of experiential learning: simulating performative work that real-world attorneys do; drafting complex legal documents; and observing and reflecting upon actual legal proceedings that students visit. These courses include the following:
Transactional & Research Skills: