With a total of 10,667 hours recorded, the University of Colorado Law School’s Class of 2020 volunteered more unpaid, law-related work during their time in law school than any other graduating class in recent history.
Fifty-eight graduating students completed the Public Service Pledge, in which students commit to at least 50 hours of law-related public service work, not for credit or other compensation, during their time in law school. Students who fulfill the pledge are recognized at graduation and their public service is reflected on their transcripts.
Luke Davis ('20) recorded the most public service hours in the class. He earned the majority of his 835 hours at the Adams County Office of the Colorado State Public Defender, and has accepted a postgraduate position as a public defender.
"Although I have always been interested in public service, I did not fully comprehend how much of an impact you can have as a public defender," he said. "My clinic professor, Ann England, showed me how rewarding and important indigent criminal defense is. Ann encouraged me to apply to the PD, and I am so incredibly grateful that she did. For every hour that I put in, working at the PD has given back more to me than I could have imagined. I learned so much about what it means to be an advocate from the talented, hardworking lawyers at the PD."
As public service chair for the Class of 2020, Molly Jickling ('20) helped get the word out about public service opportunities and encouraged her classmates to record their hours.
Jickling’s volunteer efforts put her in the top 10 in the class for number of public service hours completed. She focused most of her volunteer hours on indigent criminal defense, access to justice, and helping with legal training. During her time in law school, she volunteered with the Korey Wise Innocence Project, assisted attorneys from the Public Defender and Alternate Defense Counsel offices on complex criminal cases, served as a mock juror to help train new Office of Respondent Parent Counsel attorneys, helped students in the legal clinics with trial preparation, and taught high school students about their constitutional rights.
"Not only were they meaningful on a personal level, but these opportunities were also crucial pieces of my legal education—introducing me to new areas of the law and giving me the chance to practice skills I wasn't learning in the classroom," she said. "My volunteer hours really complemented my coursework, serving as a reminder for why I wanted to go to law school in the first place and allowing me to give back to the Colorado legal community that was supporting me."
In addition to for-credit public service courses, clinics, and externships, Colorado Law offers many opportunities for students to engage in pro bono law-related public service work. Faculty-led service projects allow law students to teach high school students about the Constitution (Colorado Law Constitution Day Project and Marshall Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project), investigate cases of possible wrongful conviction (Korey Wise Innocence Project), help low-income farmers in southern Colorado assert their water rights (Acequia Assistance Project), teach entrepreneurship to incarcerated men and women (Defy Colorado), and more. Students are also involved in outside opportunities, such as the Colorado Name Change Project and citizenship renewal clinics.
"Public service is an integral part of a lawyer’s professional obligation and an essential ingredient in a legal career. The high number of student-logged public service hours indicates that Colorado Law students understand the importance of giving back to the community," said Emily Horowitz, director of experiential learning and public service programs.
"From the very beginning, I was so impressed by how many students were volunteering their time on different faculty-led projects, organizing events to provide legal services to those in need, and seeking out creative ways to give back," Jickling said. "I am so humbled to know that we have recorded one of the highest numbers of volunteer hours, and I am grateful to the Class of 2020 for their generosity, worth ethic, and passion for public service."
- Called to Service: Public Service at Colorado Law (Spring 2020 Amicus magazine)