For University of Colorado at Boulder Law School students, experiential education is about applied learning -- acquiring experience and skills by working as lawyers on actual, current cases for clients in need. Thanks to a new $5 million endowed chair donated to the law school by local philanthropists Richard F. and Rick E. Schaden, Colorado Law students will be better equipped to incorporate real-world practice into their schooling.
The endowment, donated by the Schaden Family Fund, will enhance Colorado Law's clinical programs, externships, appellate and moot-court competitions, and voluntary pro bono work. It will enable the hiring of a senior professor to oversee the school's experiential education programs, and allow more students to participate.
"With the Schaden Chair in Experiential Learning, we will establish and staff an Experiential Education Program that builds linkages with faculty involved in experiential education and those doing traditional classroom teaching," said David H. Getches, dean of Colorado Law.
"The Schadens' gift allows us to strengthen our program, and acknowledges the importance of experiential education," said Colorado Law associate professor and director of clinical programs Deborah Cantrell.
Colorado Law has been a leader in hands-on legal education since the school was one of the nation's first to establish its legal aid and defender clinic 60 years ago. Today, students can get academic credit working on cases in one of Colorado Law's nine clinics, in areas ranging from civil and criminal cases to entrepreneurial law to American Indian law. In addition to helping students connect theory with practice, Colorado Law's clinics provide free legal services for underserved clients who could otherwise not afford assistance.
Another aspect of Colorado Law experiential education is externships, in which 70 students now participate, at government agencies, corporate legal offices, nonprofits or private law firms. Students also gain experience in moot court competitions --Colorado Law's teams are among the best among U.S. law schools, with one team winning a national championship last year, and another placing second in the nation's most prestigious competition. In November, the Colorado Law team won the regional finals in the National Moot Court competition and will soon compete in the national championship in New York.
"In addition to giving greater coherence to our entire curriculum, from the theoretical to the practical, Colorado Law's Experiential Learning Program involves our students in the community -- instilling the legal profession's ideal of service to society, and meeting the needs of underserved people," said Getches.
"I believe that experiential education is essential," said Richard F. Schaden. "This concept gives lawyers in training an opportunity to deal with real people with real problems."
The endowment will help Colorado Law forge links between these programs and classroom curriculum. "Suppose a student chooses to take my Family Law clinic, because they're really interested in family law," Cantrell said. "There may be a trial or moot-court competition related to it -- but they don't hear about it, because there's no central location where they can find these sorts of resources. This gift will enable these connections to be made."
The $5 million endowment is the largest of several recent Colorado Law gifts involving the Schadens. Richard Schaden provided substantial support for the Wolf Law Building, and another 2007 gift enabled the law school to double student moot-court participation.
Richard F. Schaden, of Boulder County, is an aeronautical engineer, businessman, restaurateur, highly recognized trial lawyer, and founding partner of the aviation and public-interest law firm Schaden, Katzman, Lampert and McClune. His son Rick E. Schaden of Denver, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado at Denver in 1987, and is founder, chairman, and (with his father) majority shareholder of Quiznos, building the company since 1991 to more than 5,000 franchises worldwide. Both Schadens are founding partners of Consumer Capital Partners, a nationally recognized private investment, concept development, strategic advisory, and causal marketing firm that is actively developing new restaurant and retail concepts including Smashburger, its latest.
A video news release on Colorado Law legal clinics is available on the CU-Boulder news Web site at www.colorado.edu/news/.