Deborah Cantrell

"Colorado Law takes seriously its commitment to helping students develop a full range of lawyering capacities and to be prepared for the dynamic and changing dimensions of the practice of law. With our experiential learning program, including a robust clinical legal education program, wide-ranging externships, and an array of simulation courses, we ensure that students genuinely know what it means to integrate theory and practice. We think experiential learning is a critical way in which students explore what it means to be an ethical lawyer and to discern what a flourishing legal career might look like."

Professor Deborah Cantrell, Schaden Chair in Experiential Learning

The case method and teaching by Socratic dialogue have been around for 160 years. Colorado Law still uses them effectively to teach critical analysis—thinking like a lawyer.  However,  the greatest change in legal education has been the introduction of multiple  opportunities for practical experience.  Experiential education includes lawyering activities outside the classroom—clinics, externships, appellate and trial competitions, and voluntary public service workas well as experientially-oriented classroom learning. The Experiential Learning Program gives coherence to our entire curriculum and fulfills the school’s mission of providing a well-rounded learning experience.  It builds linkages between experiential education and in traditional classroom teaching. Students looking for information about the experiential learning graduation requirement should go here for more information.  


Colorado Law’s Clinical Education Program started in 1948 and now serves 700 clients each year. Clinics provide practical learning experiences for our students, much-needed assistance to those less fortunate in our community, and invaluable service to the public  good.


Externships, field placements for academic credit, involve substantive legal work at a government agency or non-profit organization. Students may work in all three branches of the government, at all three levels of government, including state and federal judicial chambers, executive agencies, and congressional offices. Students may also extern with nonprofit organizations. Students develop professional lawyering skills, gain insight into various aspects of the legal system and profession, and cultivate a sense of professional responsibility.

Moot Court, Mock Trial and Transactional Competitions           

Law students compete in appellate, trial level, and transactional competitions to develop skills in appellate brief writing and oral argument, trial training, and transactional drafting /negotiations. Colorado Law teams have consistently been extremely competitive and the law school participates in and hosts more competitions each year. Selection of teams varies by competition and is overseen by the various sections of the Barristers' Council.  

Public Service Pledge Program

In this voluntary Public Service Pledge Program, Colorado Law students pledge to volunteer a minimum of 50 hours of law-related service during their time at the school. For students who complete at minimum of 50 hours, their public service is recognized on their transcript. Faculty can help connect law students with organizations and lawyers who need pro bono assistance. In addition, there are several faculty-led projects for students to volunteer to work with each semester.   

Courses in Experiential Learning

Colorado Law stands out from many other top schools with its wide range of innovative courses focused on various forms of experiential learning: simulating performative work that real-world attorneys do; drafting complex legal documents; and observing and reflecting upon actual legal proceedings that students visit. These courses include the following:

Litigation Skills:

Transactional & Research Skills: