When I assumed the Colorado Law deanship in July, I was well acquainted with the school’s reputation as a top law school with a renowned faculty. Over the past eight months, as I have come to know the community more intimately, I have found the reality exceeds my expectations. The devoted faculty, tireless staff, and promising students that fill the Wolf Law Building every day are indeed worthy of Colorado Law’s outstanding reputation. The curriculum, programs and legal research taking place here are as impressive from the inside as they looked from the outside. Finally, the alumni and friends I have met over the eight past months have proven to be steadfast in their loyalty to Colorado Law, in addition to great people.
I want to first thank you for welcoming me into your community and for your support of Colorado Law. Your generosity during our most recent fiscal year (July 1, 2015 to June 30, 2016) made you a member of our Giving Society. In appreciation of that membership, it is my pleasure to deliver in my first Mid-Year Update to Giving Society Members.
The foundation of any law school is its faculty. Colorado Law has always had a strong faculty, and one of my goals is to continue to retain and attract faculty members who have, or with the potential to have, national or international reputations for excellence. On that note, I am pleased to share that our professors continue to excel. To highlight just a few examples: Professor Anna Spain Bradley was recently appointed as the Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs and Diversity at the University of Colorado Boulder. The role, which is new to CU and will allow Professor Spain Bradley to continue teaching at Law, will provide executive education and consulting services to faculty groups aimed at enhancing professional development, diversity, and inclusive excellence. Professor Spain Bradley’s experience as a mediator and educator make her particularly qualified for the position.
Professor Charles Wilkinson recently served as a main architect of the effort to make Bears Ears Buttes in southeastern Utah a national monument, working for more than a year on behalf of a coalition of five tribes—Hopi, Navajo, Ute Mountain Ute, Uintah and Ouray Ute, and Zuni. When President Obama announced the designation of the 1.35 million acre Bears Ears National Monument in December, it included the unprecedented notion that the tribes will engage with federal agencies in collaborative management at Bears Ears.
As you undoubtedly know, Judge Neil Gorsuch was nominated by President Trump for the U.S. Supreme Court last month. In addition to serving on the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Gorsuch is a visiting professor at Colorado Law and has taught ethics and antitrust law since 2008. Through the years, Judge Gorsuch has also contributed to Colorado Law by advising students, judging competitions and speaking at events, including Colorado Law’s new student orientation in 2016 and the law school’s commencement ceremony in 2012. Importantly, both of his parents—Anne and David—were members of the Colorado Law Class of 1964!
Colorado Law recently launched a new lecture series, Colorado Law Talks, which brings members of our faculty into the community to talk about their current research and discuss the questions and ideas that motivate, influence, and shape their work. Colorado Law’s professors are working on an extraordinary array of diverse projects that I believe should be shared with the larger community. The first lecture was delivered earlier last month by Professor Sarah Krakoff, who spoke to a full room at David Graham & Stubbs in Denver. Professor Krakoff talked about her work involving the Colorado River and the many legal and policy issues that affect the river, including tribal consultation, endangered species, uranium mining, and the Colorado River compact.
I am pleased that I have been able to continue some public service work with the United Nations. As an appointed advisor to the President of the United Nations General Assembly, Peter Thomson of Fiji, I am helping to negotiate a new UN observer status for indigenous peoples. Additionally, this month Colorado Law will co-host an Expert Seminar on Indigenous Peoples’ Entrepreneurship in conjunction with the United Nations Expert Mechanism on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples and the United Nations Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights. This is a wonderful opportunity for our students to be reminded that the legal skills they are building can be used far beyond the borders of our state and our country.
Finally, I have been working with the faculty since my arrival last summer to recruit several new professors to Colorado Law. I am pleased to announce that Craig Konnoth, Ben Levin and Scott Skinner-Thompson have all accepted invitations to join the Colorado Law faculty next fall. Professor Konnoth researches in the area of health law, especially as it relates to privacy and LGBT issues. He will come to us from the University of Pennsylvania School of Law where he is a senior fellow with the Leonard Davis Institute of Health Economics. Professor Levin, a Harvard Law School graduate and Climenko Fellow, focuses his research in the area of criminal law. Professor Skinner-Thompson will join us from NYU Law and teach discrimination, privacy, constitutional law, family law, and torts. These are three spectacular hires, and I look forward to introducing them to Colorado Law.
On the student side, participation in competitions is one of the many experiential learning opportunities we encourage. In November, Sean Keefe (’17) and Parker Steel (’17) were named national champions of the 6th Annual Intellectual Property LawMeet, a competition in which students submit draft agreements and participate in mock negotiations. A second Colorado Law team with Christopher Cummins (’17), Marcela Dye (’18), and Kristine Yates (’17) took the prize of “Best Draft” for their contract. This year’s LawMeet problem involved the drafting and negotiation of a software development, license, and hosting agreement.
Alex Kimata (’17), Gabby Palanca (’17), and Mike Stegman (’17) won the 23rd Annual National Telecommunications Moot Court Competition, which was hosted by the Federal Communications Bar Association and held at The Catholic University of America Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C. on February 25. The trio also brought home awards for best brief and best argument, and Alex Kimata won the award for best oralist. This win continues a distinguished tradition at Colorado Law, which has now landed the title in the event four years in a row and five years out of the last six.
Our students continue to do well in the job market. Currently 93 percent of our 2016 graduates have reported employment, with 78 percent in full time jobs lasting a year or more for which a J.D. is either required or preferred. Although this second measure is down slightly from this time last year, the difference can be attributed primarily to the larger class size. In fact, looked at from the total number of jobs represented by the 78% figure, we are up 11 jobs from this time last year.
I have been asked often about my “vision” for Colorado Law. Clearly, Colorado Law is a top law school, and I aim to not only maintain, but also elevate, its strengths as a school that contributes positively to humanity. Maintaining and developing these strengths depends on retaining and attracting faculty who have, or with the potential to have, national or international reputations for excellence and on providing them and associated staff with the means to build academic programming geared toward student success, maximizing career opportunities, and addressing the challenges of the 21st Century.
Another priority for me is ensuring that a Colorado Law education is broadly available, regardless of social or economic background, and that we develop leaders who represent and understand the complex and diverse perspectives of today’s society. To that end, Colorado Law will work to increase scholarships, public service fellowships, and loan repayment assistance to make it more affordable. At the same time, we will do more to proactively recruit, retain, and graduate students from diverse backgrounds, including those with backgrounds that are underrepresented in law schools and in the legal profession. This fall we will be launching a new fellowship program called Leaders in Law and Community (LILAC) that will bring talented students from diverse backgrounds to Colorado Law and maximize the odds that they reach their potential as attorneys and transformational leaders. For more information on LILAC, visit www.colorado.edu/law/LILAC.
Finally, I want to ensure that all Colorado Law graduates—even those who don’t plan to leave the United States—are prepared to practice in a global society. In today’s world, virtually no area of law is devoid of a transnational dimension. In order to continue as a nationally recognized innovator and leader in the changing legal landscape, Colorado Law will continue to respect and reflect its Colorado environs, while also providing a high-quality legal education that explores global consequences and introduces students to an international legal regime.
Please consider joining us at one of the upcoming events listed below:
March 14: Rothgerber Moot Court Competition Finals
The Rothgerber Moot Court Competition is Colorado Law's premier internal appellate advocacy challenge. The problems argued are drafted straight from the headlines and address cutting-edge and topical legal issues. This year’s judging panel is Judge David Barron, 1st Circuit Court of Appeals, Judge Paul Kelly, 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, and Justice Monica Márquez of the Colorado Supreme Court.
March 15: Colorado Law Alumni Awards Banquet
Now in its 36th year, the annual Colorado Law Alumni Awards Banquet is our signature alumni event, where we celebrate our community and honor our distinguished alumni. This year we are honoring Bill Ritter, Jr. (’81), former Governor of Colorado, with the William Lee Knous Award. We are also honoring the following alumni with distinguished achievement awards: Gary Blum (’71), Silver & DeBoskey, P.C., for achievement in Solo/Small Practice; Beverly E. Ledbetter (’72), Vice President and General Counsel, Brown University, for achievement as Corporate Counsel; Pat Steadman (’91), State Senator for achievement in the Public Sector; and, Hugh Gottschalk (’79), Partner and President, Wheeler Trigg O’Donnell LLP, for achievement in Private Practice. In addition, I will present the Richard Schaden “Adopted Alumna” Award to Judge Christine Arguello, United States District Court, Colorado.
April 12: Colorado Law Talks, Hal Bruff
Professor Emeritus and former dean Hal Bruff will deliver the second lecture in our Colorado Law Talks series on April 12 in Denver. Professor Bruff has co-authored a casebook on separation of powers law and has written two books and numerous law review articles on the subject. His lecture will address the use of executive orders in the Trump administration.
For more information or to register for any of these events, please visit www.colorado.edu/law/events.
Our new word for the year is “quasquicentennial” because, in 2017, Colorado Law is celebrating its 125th anniversary. Throughout the year, we will be honoring the occasion by sharing stories and photographs from our history. On June 8, we plan to have a party at Wolf Law so that the entire Colorado Law community can celebrate together. We will announce more details soon, and I hope to see you then, if not before.
Thank you so much for your support.
S. James Anaya
Dean and Charles Inglis Thomson Professor