Published: April 5, 2016

On March 9, 2016, Colorado Law students presented a consumer empowerment panel with the Boulder County Department of Housing and Human Services (BCDHHS). Professor Amy Schmitz and students in her Consumers and the Law service-learning class worked with Marcia Zipkin and Jennifer Underwood of Boulder County Community Services to organize the event, which was designed to educate and empower consumers from the community.

Student panelists covered a range of topics, including consumer complaint processes, issues impacting senior citizens, healthcare reform, student debt, payday loans, credit cards and prepaid cards, foreclosures and loan modifications, landlord/tenant laws in Boulder County, online privacy and data collection, and online dispute resolution. 

Student panelist Beth Michaels (’16) presented on foreclosures and loan modifications. She plans to focus on commercial litigation and appellate work after graduation.

“As a learning experience, it was really valuable to speak to non-lawyers about legal issues, because this is a difficult skill to master but one of the most useful for a lawyer to have,” Michaels said. “It was also really great to learn more about my own rights from other students' presentations. The great thing about this type of information is that it applies to everyone, as we are all consumers.” 

The knowledge sharing went both ways—community members were able to learn about consumer rights and issues, and students learned from attendees how consumer issues impact Boulder County residents. To address community concerns and to better understand how the law impacts consumers in the community, students tailored their presentations based on questions from attendees. Some of the questions asked included how to handle a disorienting experience with a financial scammer and best practices for consumers for whom English is not their first language. More than 25 community members attended the empowerment panel and enjoyed free dinner, refreshments, and childcare during the evening presentation.

“I feel fortunate to have worked with my students and Boulder County Community Services on this event for many years,” Schmitz said. “It connects our students with the community while providing critical resources on important consumer concerns that we all face in our everyday lives.”

Students post about these and other topics on Professor Schmitz’s consumer empowerment website, Past presentations are also available to view on the site.