A Tradition of Public Service
As this issue of Amicus goes to press, we are experiencing many changes due to the impact of COVID-19. We have switched to fully remote classes for the rest of the semester, and are exploring alternative ways of celebrating the Class of 2020 in the wake of a canceled in-person May commencement ceremony. These are trying times, and I am proud of the resiliency and care for one another that our community has shown. Amid everything going on in the world, we still have much to celebrate, as we are reminded in the following pages. I hope this issue of Amicus inspires you.
Public service is a key component of a lawyer’s professional obligations and an essential ingredient in a legal career. As a law school, we are committed to instilling an ethic of public service in our students and graduates. Personally, public service has been one of the most satisfying aspects of my career.
Last year, our students spent a total of 14,291 hours assisting the underserved through our nine legal clinics. More than 92 percent of 1Ls signed the Public Service Pledge, and the members of the Class of 2019 collectively contributed over 6,700 hours of unpaid law-related service during their time in law school.
On top of providing valuable experience through clinics and externships, we have introduced several public service projects led by faculty members. Our cover story features the namesake of one such program: Korey Wise, an adopted Colorado Law alumnus and member of the "Exonerated Five," who helped develop the Colorado Innocence Project, known today as the Korey Wise Innocence Project.
Other faculty-led initiatives include the Constitution Day Project, led by Professor Colene Robinson; the Acequia Assistance Project, led by Professor Sarah Krakoff; the First Peoples Project, led by Professor Carla Fredericks; Defy Colorado, led by Professor Brad Bernthal; and the Maya Land Rights and Development Project, which I lead along with Dean’s Fellow Patrick Lee ('18).
We support our students’ placement in public service jobs during the summer and after they graduate in several ways. Our public service fellowships award up to $6,000 for students to pursue summer public service work at low-paying or unpaid positions. We also offer scholarships and postgraduate fellowships.
Many of our graduates are choosing to enter into public service careers. Twenty-five percent of employed Class of 2018 graduates work in public interest or government jobs, with an additional 18 percent in judicial clerkships.
To support our alumni in public interest careers, Colorado Law’s Loan Repayment Assistance Program approved 61 awards of $5,500 each to qualified recipients in 2019.
We are also committed to supporting public service initiatives in the communities we serve. Last year, Colorado Law became a founding sponsor of Legal Entrepreneurs for Justice (LEJ), a small-business incubator that trains socially conscious lawyers to build sustainable practices providing affordable legal solutions to Coloradans. I am grateful to Colorado Supreme Court Justice Melissa Hart, who first identified the need for LEJ and was instrumental in launching the program.
As you will see in the pages that follow, our tradition of service runs deep, and our students, faculty, staff, and alumni are passionate about giving of themselves. I hope this issue of Amicus encourages you to learn more about the public service tradition at Colorado Law.
S. James Anaya, Dean and University Distinguished Professor