2021-2022 Pledge Projects
Public service is an integral part of a lawyer’s professional obligation and an essential ingredient in a legal career. Colorado Law faculty and staff are committed to the creation of and participation in public service projects. During their time at Colorado Law, students can become involved in the faculty-led public service projects listed below. Students can count any hours they spend working on faculty-led service projects toward Colorado Law's Public Service Pledge.
The Acequia Assistance Project led by Gregor MacGregor
The Acequia Project is a joint effort by the Getches-Wilkinson Center, Colorado Open Lands, and the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association to provide low or no-cost legal assistance and educational materials to Colorado’s acequia communities. These communities practice traditional Hispano irrigation practices that were historically excluded from Colorado's water law. Under the guidance of the Project and pro bono attorneys, law students assist acequias by: (1) by drafting by-laws and governance documents, (2) conducting title research and other real property inquiries, (3) representing acequias and irrigators in water rights cases and (4) completing scholarly research to benefit the community. The Project is one of the only opportunities in the country in which you can practice law as a 1L and start making a difference in people's lives. Students can expect to complete their initial training in the Fall, and meet their clients at the annual Congreso de Acequias held in San Luis at the end of January. If you are interested, please contact Director: Gregor MacGregor (Gregor.MacGregor@colorado.edu), and Student Deputy Directors Johnsie Wilkinson (Johnsie.Wilkinson@colorado.edu), William Raley (William.Raley@colorado.edu), Grace Jimenez (Grace.Jimenez@colorado.edu), and Cameron Abatti (Cameron.Abatti@colorado.edu).
Colorado Law Constitution Day Project led by Professor Colene Robinson
Join us in visiting high school classrooms to deliver an interactive lesson on a current topic in constitutional law in honor of the signing of the constitution on September 17th. This year we will be teaching on September 17th and 24th. Training is Wednesday, September 8th at Noon in Room 205. 1L volunteers are welcome. If you are interested, please contact Colene Robinson (Colene.Robinson@colorado.edu).
HumanKind led by Professor Brad Bernthal
HumanKind is a volunteer organization that connects university students to three types of pandemic-related community needs: (1) K-12 tutoring, (2) senior and elderly interactions, and (3) delivery help. Associate Professor Brad Bernthal is part of the team that launched HumanKind and remains heavily involved. Law students have been a core part of HumanKind since it was launched in March 2020. Law Students can help HumanKind in two ways. One way to get involved is as a community volunteer. Community volunteers get involved in either tutoring, elder interactions, or delivery efforts. A second way to get involved is to help with HumanKind’s operations. Current HK site with additional information is at http://humankindnetwork.co/. If you are interested, please contact Brad Bernthal (Brad.Bernthal@colorado.edu).
Korey Wise Innocence Project led by Anne-Marie Moyes
The Korey Wise Innocence Project (KWIP) works to exonerate wrongly convicted prisoners in Colorado. KWIP also focuses on reforming the criminal legal system to prevent wrongful convictions at the front end. In the Fall 2021 semester, KWIP plans to add new volunteers (including 1L's) to help screen applications from prisoners claiming innocence. Through our screening process, we decide which cases to accept for investigation and litigation. KWIP volunteers must commit 3 to 5 hours per week to the project. If you are interested, please contact Anne-Marie Moyes (AnnieMarie.Moyes@colorado.edu).
Marshall Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project led by Matthew Cushing
Colorado Law hosts the Colorado chapter of the Marshall-Brennan Constitutional Literacy Project, a nationwide effort to educate high school students about the constitution and our legal system. Each fall, upper-level law students pair with public high schools to teach a semester-long course about the law, juvenile justice, and other important legal issues that impact students' lives. Using a problem developed every year by the national headquarters of the Project, law students teach the high school students how to reason, formulate persuasive arguments, and make oral presentations on each side of the problem.
As a part of the Project, Colorado Law hosts a Regional Moot Court Competition for the high school students. The top six finalists of that competition then represent Colorado in the national competition right here at Colorado Law! accompanied by their law student coaches. Each year, approximately 40 Colorado Law students volunteer to judge the early rounds of the Regional competition and to help the competition run smoothly. If you are interested, please contact Matthew Cushing (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Maya Land Rights Project led by Professor Anaya and Patrick Lee
Work remotely with the Maya communities of southern Belize to help them implement and maintain their rights to their land and traditional ways of living and being. Learn to utilize emerging human rights norms in a real-world context by working through the Belize justice systems & international and regional human rights systems. If you are interested, please contact Patrick Lee (G.Patrick.Lee@colorado.edu).
Naturalization Workshop led by Violeta Chapin
The Immigration Law and Policy Society (ILPS) and the Immigration & Criminal Defense Clinic will facilitate a Naturalization Workshop for this year's 1L Pledge Project. First years interested in the legal road to citizenship in this country will work closely with immigrant clients and local community advocates, while also learning a little something about immigration law! In the Spring semester, first years will join ILPS students and Professor Violeta Chapin, for a naturalization information session to learn the ins-and-outs of the citizenship process and the N-400 naturalization applications. The entire team will then collaborate with Mi Familia Vota Colorado, a local nonprofit organization dedicated to increasing community engagement in the immigrant and Latina/o community, to host a naturalization workshop for people eligible to naturalize in the local community. 1Ls will have the unique opportunity to meet clients, conduct intake interviews and consult with student attorneys and ILPS students to finalize the N-400 naturalization application. If you are interested, please contact Violeta Chapin (email@example.com) or Alyssa Ortiz (Alyssa.Ortiz@colorado.edu).
Access to Justice Commission Project led by Melissa Hart and Amy Griffin
Access to Justice Commission works to expand access to justice in civil legal matters. The Access to Justice Commission is a group appointed by the Colorado Supreme Court, the Legislature, Colorado Legal Services, and the Governor. The Commission will be holding seven hearings this fall throughout the state, each designed to highlight access to justice needs in different communities. The information gathered at the hearings will then be developed into a report, which the Commissioners would like to release in January 2014.
Volunteers on this project will attend the hearings, take detailed notes, and work with both members of the Commission and the Bar Association on the report of the Commission's findings. Students will not only have the opportunity to work with those improving access to justice in Colorado, but will also gain valuable writing experience. Time commitment is approximately 10-15 hours in the fall semester.
Ban the Box led by Zach Mountin
Criminal history can be a significant barrier to employment as many employers are hesitant to hire those with a criminal record. The mere presence of a checkbox for criminal history on a job application may dissuade those with criminal records from even applying, while those that do apply may be summarily cut from consideration. In 2019, Colorado passed the Colorado Chance to Compete Act, which prohibits employers from inquiring about criminal record on their initial application—in other words, Colorado has banned the box! Colorado Law students will research violations of the new law and draft complaints to help ensure early awareness and compliance. You need no prior legal experience (1Ls are welcome!) and you can choose how much time to devote to the project as you go—we estimate that each violation will take several hours to research, document, and draft a complaint.
The Colorado DACA Support Program led by Melissa Hart and Violeta Chapin
Thousands of young students living in Colorado today were brought to the United States when they were minors and are living in the country without documentation. The federal government has created a program -- Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals -- that allows these young people to apply for documents in order to get work permits and other benefits that will enable them to participate more fully in society. The Colorado DACA Support Program assists eligible students in understanding the legal concerns that surround DACA requests, and compiling and completing the requests. Through generous private donations, the Colorado DACA Support Program covers most of the costs of the DACA request process, thus ensuring that economic need does not provide an insurmountable barrier for a young person seeking this path to participation.
All law students may participate. Spanish skills are helpful, but not necessary. Students will spend an estimated 20 hours per semester on this project.
The Colorado Lawyers Committee Projects led by Colorado Lawyers Committee Staff
The Colorado Lawyers Committee (CLC) is a 37-year-old nonprofit, nonpartisan consortium of more than 60 Colorado law firms dedicated to providing and increasing opportunities for children, the poor and other disadvantaged communities through high impact pro bono legal advocacy. The Lawyers Committee currently has more than 25 task forces and 850 attorneys working on projects in the areas of Children’s Rights & Education, Civil Rights & Criminal Law, Poverty & Public Benefits, Community Development, and Immigration. The Lawyers Committee has several opportunities for law students including our new Young Lawyers Division (the CLC YLD). Membership in the CLC YLD is open (without charge) to any lawyer or law student who wants to join and offers law students an opportunity to work closely with volunteer attorneys to make a difference. Members are invited to participate in one or more of the following YLD teams:
Fundraising and Events Team
Public Relations Team
Nonprofit Legal Audit and Special Projects Team
Denver Legal Night Team
Hate Crimes Education Team
Strategic Planning Team
Law students may also participate in another major project of the Lawyers Committee: the Hate Crimes Education Task Force. This task force educates students about Colorado’s Hate/Bias Crimes (“Hate Crime”) Statute, using a fictional trial where the audience plays the role of the jury and volunteers serve as judge and attorneys (come practice your voir dire and closing argument skills).
Consumer Empowerment Project led by Amy Schmitz
This is a non-profit consumer education and advocacy project that aims to provide helpful and independent information. Volunteers will write short blogs on hot topics having to do with financial tips, being a smart consumer, student financial strategies, digital privacy, debt collection, credit card rules, consumer protection laws, issues affecting vulnerable populations, and other consumer issues. This project also allows students to gain writing experience while producing publications on the Internet. Hours and time commitment are flexible.
Defy Colorado Project led by Brad Bernthal
Defy Colorado teaches entrepreneurship to incarcerated men and women. JD and MBA students can get involved. Ideal participants should have interest – and ideally background in – business and/or entrepreneurship. Colorado Law will make at least one trip per semester with Defy Colorado to a Colorado State prison. These visits entail meeting Defy’s “Entrepreneurs In Training” (i.e., prisoners who participate in the program) and hearing their business ideas. We then help provide feedback on the ideas and help teach business skills to the EITs. Trip dates TBD. Outside of the Colorado Law’s trip, there will be additional ways to directly get involved in Defy Colorado.
First Peoples Project led by Carla Fredericks
First Peoples Worldwide is a partnership between Faculty at the University of Colorado Law School and the Center for Ethics and Social Responsibility at Leeds School of Business and is housed within the Center for Native American and Indigenous Studies. First Peoples Worldwide’s mission is to work from a foundation of indigenous values to achieve a sustainable future for all.
First Peoples addresses the unique social and environmental impacts of development in indigenous communities, while preparing current and future leaders to meet the pressing social responsibility challenges facing today's businesses. Through capacity-building sessions between institutions and indigenous representatives, industry conference presentations, community advocacy, and major research projects, our work increases accountability, furthers human rights-based engagement, and helps to protect the planet for all.
This faculty-led service project will be research and writing intensive and will focus on sustainable development practices in tribal communities. Students will work independently on one major research project over the course of the semester; 5-10 hours per week.
The Governors’ Climate & Forests Task Force led by William Boyd and Research Associate Amelia Peterson
The GCF is an alliance of 29 states and provinces from Brazil, Indonesia, Ivory Coast, Mexico, Nigeria, Peru, Spain and the United States working together to build robust low carbon economies, improve forest governance and enhance the livelihood of forest-dependent communities. Colorado Law has served as the GCF’s Secretariat and research base since its inception in 2009. All law students are invited to assist the GCF with a variety of projects, including the GCF Support Network (an online platform for identifying sources of local and regional support and facilitating effective and timely collaboration and problem-solving between GCF members and network partners), the GCF Knowledge Database (which tracks efforts to reduced emissions from deforestation and forest degradation (REDD+) and other low carbon development policies), the GCF Training Program (which includes legal and institutional capacity-building workshops), and related research efforts (sustainable supply chains, indigenous rights and resources, current events in the climate change world, for example the upcoming COP in Paris). Students are expected to commit 30 hours (minimum) over course of the semester.
Colorado faces a serious crisis in civil legal representation of the indigent, and local legal nonprofits could use your help. Civil legal services enable poor people to maintain the basic necessitates of a decent life: minimally adequate income, food, shelter, utilities, medical care; freedom from domestic violence and abuse; and the protection of individual rights. Moreover, immigration proceedings are considered civil in nature, so there is no public-defender system for immigration matters -- even children, detained people, and asylum-seekers are forced to represent themselves in immigration matters unless they can find an attorney to represent them. Legal nonprofits in Colorado are simply unable to help everyone seeking these essential services.
The Pro Bono Research and Writing Project seeks to expand the capacity of Colorado’s civil legal-aid organizations by matching law students with attorneys who can benefit from students’ legal research and writing skills. You can volunteer for a specific project when it meets your interests and fits your schedule. Not only will you be providing valuable legal assistance to those who need it most, but also you will improve your research and writing skills and earn Public Service Pledge hours. In the process, you will likely create a great writing sample as well. A team of professors, including a law librarian and legal-writing professors, will be available to give advice as you work on these projects. First-year students can volunteer for this project beginning in the spring semester, and attorneys from our partner organizations hold an information session in January for those interested in participating. Second and third-year students can volunteer any time. If you are interested, please contact Professor Megan Hall (Megan.Hall@colorado.edu)
Record and Arrest Sealing with Colorado Criminal Defense Bar led by Ann England and Anna Adler
Coloradans are released from the criminal justice system every year, but face significant hardships from their arrest and criminal records, such as barriers to housing, education, and employment. Be part of a volunteer core partnering with the Colorado Criminal Defense Bar to run record sealing clinics. You need no prior legal experience and you can choose how much time to devote to the project as you go. This meeting will discuss the project and do some minimal training.