Published: June 27, 2022

Headshots of Professors Violeta Chapin and Coleen RobinsonThe Colorado Law Clinical Program is welcoming new leadership for the 2022-23 academic year—Professors Colene Robinson and Violeta Chapin will serve as co-directors.

Professor Robinson currently teaches the Juvenile & Family Law Clinic and co-directs the Juvenile and Family Law Program (JFLP). She has been on the faculty of the law school since 2005 after nearly a decade of representing children and families throughout Colorado and in New York City.

Professor Chapin teaches the Criminal & Immigration Defense Clinic, having joined the faculty in 2009. Prior to joining Colorado Law, she served for seven years as a trial attorney with the Public Defender Service for the District of Columbia. She has represented both adult and juvenile indigent defendants with serious felony offenses at all stages of trial.

“We are both feeling very excited to lead the Clinical Program at a time when experiential education is in high demand from students, alums, and employers seeking to hire graduating law students with real client experience,” remarks Professor Robinson. “There is truly no replacement for this kind of hands-on participation in the legal system when it comes to connecting theory with practice.”

The Colorado Law Clinical Program, founded in 1948, has long played a crucial role in providing free legal services to a diverse array of community members. The Program spans a wide range of legal areas including wage theft, wrongful convictions, fair and just access to technology, affordable housing, new entrepreneurship, environmental justice and domestic and international indigenous rights.

“The Clinical Program is very grateful to Professor Deborah Cantrell, our previous director, who excelled at managing the myriad practice and logistical issues of running nine Clinics,” says Professor Chapin. “She wisely and consistently emphasized the importance of clinical teaching and education for our students, advocating for the program as zealously as she advocates for her clients.”

Headshot of Professor Deb CantrellProfessor Deborah Cantrell—who will continue her work teaching the Sustainable Community Development Clinic—joined the Colorado Law faculty in 2007. Before coming to the Centennial State, Professor Cantrell served as a Senior Lecturer of Law, Research Scholar, and Director of the Arthur Liman Public Interest Program at Yale Law School, ran a regional anti-poverty law program in California, and supervised a statewide direct legal aid program for the rural elderly in New Mexico.

Professor Cantrell led the Clinical Program with great dedication for 16 years. During her tenure, the Clinical Program’s capacity to serve our Colorado communities markedly grew, including supporting the launch of the Samuelson-Glushko Technology Law & Policy Clinic, and envisioning and creating the Sustainable Community Development Clinic. Under Cantrell's leadership, the Program organized and facilitated an ongoing learning community among faculty who teach clinical courses to explore issues related to pedagogy, social justice and diversity and inclusion. It also fostered collaborations among faculty—both those who teach clinical course and those who lead experiential offerings outside of the Clinical Program.

In 2013, Professor Cantrell received the Clifford J. Calhoun Public Service award—the Law School’s highest service-related honor. Then, in 2020, Professor Cantrell received the Boulder County Public Health’s Heathy Community Award in recognition of her work through the Sustainable Community Development Clinic.

“It has been an honor to lead the Clinical Program, and to be a part of Colorado Law’s ongoing and sustained commitment to public service,” reflects Professor Cantrell. “The Clinical Program is a true place of collaboration and innovation. I’m grateful to my faculty and staff colleagues for their steady engagement, and to the hundreds of student attorneys who participated in the Clinical Program during my tenure and provided thousands of hours of free legal services across our communities.”