2015-2016 Pledge Projects

Colorado Lawyers Committee Projects – CLC Staff

The Colorado Lawyers Committee 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).    

The Governors’ Climate & Forests Task Force – Professor 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. 

The Acequia Project – Professor Sarah Krakoff and Marc Scanlon, Acequia Project Fellow

This is an environmental justice project of the Getches-Wilkinson Center, whose partners include the Sangre de Cristo Acequia Association and Colorado Open Lands, that assists low-income farmers in the San Luis Valley with protecting their water rights and their long-standing sustainable farming practices.  Student volunteers will travel to the Valley, meet with irrigators whose families have lived there for centuries, and assist with drafting by-laws, articles of incorporation, and in some cases litigation concerning water rights establishment and protection.   

All law students may join, including first years.  A minimum of 30 hours over the semester is required.  Spanish language skills a plus, but not necessary.

Consumer Empower coverConsumer Empowerment Project – Professor 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.  

Record and Arrest Sealing with Colorado Criminal Defense Bar – Professor Ann England and Professor 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.

Korey Wise Innocence Project – Professor Ann England

The Korey Wise Innocence Project at Colorado Law is an organization that works to free the wrongly convicted from prison.  It is a volunteer opportunity that is run and housed here at Colorado Law.  We are excited to have a new director and we are really hoping to grow the project this year.  On Public Service Day we will train students who are interested in volunteering their time during the 2015-16 school year.  Students must be willing to commit 5 hours every other week to the project (with flexibility for midterms, school breaks, and finals).  This project is open for all students, including first years.  We look forward to meeting you.  

The Pro Bono Research and Writing Project – Professor Amy Griffin

Colorado faces a serious crisis in civil legal representation of the indigent, and Colorado Legal Services (CLS) could use your help.  Colorado Legal Services' mission is as follows:  

To provide meaningful access to high quality civil legal services in the pursuit of justice for as many low income persons and members of vulnerable populations throughout Colorado as possible.

CLS is the primary provider of civil legal aid in Colorado, but has just 47 lawyers to serve an income-eligible population of more than 880,000 people.  CLS gives priority to the legal aspects of the efforts of 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 of the elderly and physically and mentally disabled.  CLS is not able to handle all the cases that arise with these issues, and turns away at least one person for every case it accepts.

The Pro Bono Research and Writing Project seeks to help CLS in this effort, by matching law students with Colorado Legal Services 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, you will improve your research and writing skills and earn Public Service Pledge hours at the same time.  You will probably also create a great writing sample.  Both Professor Amy Griffin, a legal writing professor, and Professor Robert Linz, a librarian, 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 an attorney from CLS will be here in January to hold an information session for those interested in participating.   Second- and third-year students can volunteer any time.   If you are interested, please contact Professor Amy Griffin at amy.griffin@colorado.edu.

Colorado Law Constitution Day – Professor Melissa Hart

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 between September 14 and 25 to present a lesson on a First 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 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.

Past Projects:


Access to Justice Commission Project: A Public Service Pledge project led by Professors Hart and Griffin   

Watch this video to learn more

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.

For more information, please contact Professor Griffin at amy.griffin@colorado.edu.

The Colorado DACA Support Program. A  Public Service Pledge Project Led by Professor Hart and Professor 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.

If you are interested in the DACA support program, please contact Professor Hart at melissa.hart@colorado.edu or Professor Chapin at violeta.chapin@colorado.edu