2019-2020 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 Professor Sarah Krakoff
Our mission is to assist low-income farmers in Colorado’s San Luis Valley by protecting their water rights and ensuring their historic sustainable farming practices remain viable. Student volunteers travel to the valley and meet with irrigators whose families have lived there for centuries. Students then assist with drafting by-laws, drafting articles of incorporation, researching water rights, and preparing litigation materials to establish or protect water rights if necessary. All Colorado Law students may participate, including first year students. Students develop professional skills, receive mentorship from supervising attorneys, and assist an under-represented Colorado community. The Project will publish a schedule of events in mid-September. If you are interested, please contact Leah Fugere (Leah.Fugere@colorado.edu), Natasha Viteri (Natasha.Viteri@colorado.edu), and Matt Nadel (Matthew.Nadel@colorado.edu).
Ban the Box Project led by Professor 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. If you are interested, please contact Zach Mountin (Zachary.Mountin@colorado.edu).
Colorado Law Constitution Day Project led by Professor Colene Robinson
The Colorado Law Constitution Day Project partners law students and lawyers to visit high school classrooms to deliver a one-day, interactive lesson on a current topic in constitutional law in honor of the nationally recognized signing of the Constitution on September 17. This year, presenters will visit classrooms all over Colorado the last two weeks of September to present a lesson on a Fourth Amendment question. The Byron R. White Center for the Study of American Constitutional Law will provide presenters with a lesson plan and will offer training for presenters on September 6th at noon in Room 207 (lunch provided) on both the substantive law and good teaching strategies. The Center will also reimburse for travel more than 50 miles from Boulder and for overnight accommodations as needed. Colorado Law students receive public service pledge credit for their work preparing for and presenting a Constitution Day lesson. If you are interested, please contact Colene Robinson (Colene.Robinson@Colorado.edu).
Defy Colorado led by Professor 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. If you are interested, please contact Brad Bernthal (Brad.Bernthal@colorado.edu).
First Peoples Project led by Professor 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. If you are interested, please contact Carla Fredericks (Carla.Fredericks@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 is housed at Colorado Law, so students can volunteer right in the law school building. We are excited to have a new director and are hoping to grow the project this year. On Public Service Day, we will give an overview of our work and how students can get involved. During the first two weeks of classes, we will then accept applications from students interested in making a year-long commitment to volunteering. There are opportunities for all students, including first years. We look forward to meeting you! If you are interested, please contact Anne-Marie Moyes (AnnieMarie.Moyes@colorado.edu).
Maya Land Rights Project led by Dean Anaya and Patrick Lee
The Maya Land Rights and Development Project is an initiative at Colorado Law that offers students a unique opportunity to learn about social justice in the context of indigenous peoples' advocacy. Students will assist a multi-national team of lawyers to work through the Belize justice system and international human rights systems on issues that directly affect the Maya people's right to maintain their culture and traditional ways of life, as well as help create new economic development projects that strengthen Maya communities. If you are interested, please contact Patrick Lee (G.Patrick.Lee@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 in Washington, D.C., accompanied by their law student coaches. Each year, approximately 40 Colorado Law students volunteer to judge the early rounds of the Regional competition (this year, taking place on February 1, 2020) and to help the competition run smoothly. Sign up to volunteer at cu.law/MBvolunteer. If you are interested, please contact Matthew Cushing (Matthew.Cushing@colorado.edu).
The Pro Bono Research and Writing Project led by Professors Robert Linz, Megan Hall, and Gabi Stafford
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).
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.
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. For further information, students should contact Professor Schmitz and visit Professor Schmitz’s non-profit consumer outreach website at www.myconsumertips.info.
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.
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. A second training that will be more devoted to the nuts and bolts of the project will be held on a date TBD.