During the 2016-17 academic year, 126 student attorneys across the University of Colorado Law School’s nine clinics worked on more than 400 cases and projects, providing free legal services to many community members and groups who could not otherwise hire an attorney. In fall 2016, Colorado Law launched the Sustainable Community Development Clinic, the school’s first new clinic in over a decade, which has already made an impact throughout Boulder County.
“We are extremely proud of our clinics and the role that they play in helping us achieve our values of civic engagement and social responsibility,” said Deborah Cantrell, associate professor and director of clinical programs.
Below are highlights from just a few of Colorado Law’s clinics this year:
A longstanding case was resolved on May 5, 2017, when the Civil Practice Clinic received a final decision from a federal immigration law judge. Colorado Law’s student attorney team, comprised of Elizabeth Field (’18), David Ong (‘17), and Greer Zerboni (‘18), won asylum for its client who had been severely tortured in Djibouti for his political opinions against the government and was discriminated against because of his clan. His case had been ongoing for three years in the clinic.
“The student team did amazing work putting his case together for trial, writing lots of motions, briefs, a closing argument, and preparing witnesses for more than two days of trial testimony, including finding and preparing two expert witnesses,” said Clinical Professor Norm Aaronson. “I have been so pleased with the dedication, excellent legal work, and professionalism of the student teams this year.”
The student team received pro bono assistance from a psychologist who had previously examined the client and a political science professor at American University in D.C. who lived in Djibouti for several years and advised the U.S. military on country conditions.
The Civil Practice Clinic filed an additional four asylum petitions in the spring, and have about six pending. The clinic’s work extended across Colorado Law’s faculty, students, and alumni. Adjunct Professor and Co-Founder of the Colorado Asylum Project Lisa Green stepped in to help train the students in asylum law, and Legal Writing Professor Megan Hall (’05) was also available for consults and guidance. Clinical students presented on their cases in Associate Professor Ming Chen’s immigration class. Finally, Ashley Harrington (’10) from Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network led a training for students.
This was the inaugural year for the Sustainable Community Development (SCD) Clinic, and it was a busy and fulfilling one. Student attorneys worked across several substantive areas of law, including housing, public health, and food security, and appeared in many different advocacy settings.
In the fall, student attorneys Riley Cutner (’18) and Sam Seligman (’17) co-authored a white paper about revisions to a city ordinance in Boulder dealing with cooperative housing. Cutner and Seligman submitted their white paper to Boulder City Council and to the Boulder city attorney, as well as testified at a city council meeting when the draft ordinance was being considered. Ultimately, Boulder City Council adopted a version of the ordinance that included specific provisions and language recommended by Cutner and Seligman.
The SCD Clinic also handled projects related to recreational use on trails around Boulder, water quality issues in some neighborhoods in the city and county, food security issues for unauthorized parents with children eligible for food benefits, and licensing related to alternative health care programs, among others.
The Entrepreneurial Law Clinic was featured in the spring 2017 issue of Amicus, Colorado Law’s alumni magazine, for its ties to the Rector family. Read the full article.
In May 2017, students from the Technology Law and Policy Clinic (TLPC) and Assistant Clinical Professor Blake Reid (’10) traveled to the United Nations’ World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in Geneva to present a paper they co-authored before the Standing Committee on Copyright and Related Rights (SCCR).
Together with co-author Professor Caroline Ncube of the University of Cape Town, the TLPC contingent of Gabrielle Daley (’18), Luke Ewing (’18), and Lindsey Knapton (’18) walked a full house of member state and NGO representatives through the future of accessibility technology and its intersections with copyright law. The presentation spurred a lengthy Q&A session presided over by the SCCR president, a stream of member state and NGO representatives following up for additional information after the session, and accolades from the SCCR leadership and staff.
“Gabrielle, Lindsey, and Luke worked really hard to prepare and make the trip happen and delivered a thorough and composed presentation under high pressure, bright lights, and a big crowd in the giant WIPO auditorium,” Reid said. “I think it’s a testament to their good work that we were invited back to present the next revision of our study incorporating analysis of member state laws at the SCCR meeting in November. I’m really proud of their hustle and attention to detail—not to mention the efforts of Kiki Council (’17), Sean Doran (’17), and Andi Wilt (’17) who worked hard in the fall to set up the project for success.”
Pictured (L-R): Luke Ewing, Lindsey Knapton, Caroline Ncube, and Gabrielle Daley at the World Intellectual Property Organization in Geneva, Switzerland.