The University of Denver Sturm College of Law (Denver Law) traces its roots back into the late 1800s as one of the first law schools to the west of Kansas City. The law school was originally part of Westminster College before it merged with the University of Denver during the middle of the 20th century. Since its opening, the school has built a reputation for its strong commitment to public service. The school’s public interest program is ranked in the top tier in the country. Its legal aid program was the first in the nation. Furthermore, all students–regardless of career choice–are required to donate at least 50 hours of legal work to the surrounding Denver community. Since 2003, the law school has been housed in the nation’s first “green” law school.
Denver Law has two tracks for its Juris Doctor program–full-time and a part-time, evening program. Both requires the same “first-year” curriculum although part-time students complete the curriculum in three semesters instead of two. The curriculum is grounded in the traditional academics classes of civil procedure, constitutional law, contracts, criminal law, property, and torts. Students also take two semesters of skill-based learning in a course on the lawyering process. Full-time students generally take four courses per semester while part-time students take only three.
After completing the first-year curriculum, students are only required to take three additional courses: evidence, administrative law, and a course in professional responsibility. Denver Law also requires the standard upper-level writing requirement and experiential education credits but adds to these a requirement for public service and professional development. The latter two reflect the law school’s commitment to public service and career placement.
Upper-level students may also choose to follow one of the school’s six certification programs that provide a mixture of classroom and skill based work to ground a student in a particular practice area. Certifications include the school’s program in environmental and natural resource law, one of the most complete programs in the nation.
Denver Law offers a robust Master of Laws (LL.M) program to meet the needs of various students. The school’s American Practice LL.M is intended for international students who wish to practice law in the United States and need to sit for a bar exam. These students take classes with Juris Doctor students to introduce them not only to the American legal system but the community as well.
For U.S. law school graduates, Denver Law offers three subject matter LL.M degrees: environmental and natural resource law, international business law, and tax law. These advanced degrees offer specialization in notably complex areas of the law.
For professionals whose careers intersect with the law, Denver Law offers four subject matter Masters programs that cover areas of expertise within the school: taxation, environmental law, and administrative law. The school also offers a Master of Legal Studies (M.L.S.) program that covers the law generally. Additionally, the law school has a professional certification program which offers short, intensive programs to provide professionals with an overview of various legal subjects.
Juris Doctor students may also pursue dual degrees while at the University of Denver. The Juris Doctor degree can be combined with another professional degree such as an M.B.A. from the business school or an M.S.W. from the graduate school of social work. By pursuing a dual degree, students complete both programs in less time than pursuing the programs separately as course credits can be shared between programs.
Career and Career Placement
Based on recent graduating statistics, over 88% of students at Denver Law were either employed or pursuing additional education within 10 months of graduation. The vast majority of those graduates (98%) secured jobs that either required a law license or preferred a Juris Doctor degree. The career choices of Denver Law graduates span the breadth of the legal practice. True to its commitment to public service, over 40% of graduates pursued careers in either a judicial clerkships, a government office, or in the public interest sector. Just under 25% of graduates pursued work in a small law firm with 1 to 10 attorneys. Just over 10% entered into the business sector. Nearly 95% of all graduates remained in Colorado for their first jobs.
Career Development is a required skill to graduate from Denver Law. All students must complete five sessions that prepare them for their career and the hiring process. Sessions include interview preparation, networking, and programs that focus on health and wellness. Denver Law’s approach to career encourages graduates to view their career as part of a balanced life that encourages their own wellness and contributes to their community at large.
Experiential Learning/Distance Education
Like all ABA accredited law schools, Denver Law requires all students to complete at least six hours of experiential learning credits. To satisfy this requirement, Denver Law provides a host of opportunities. Foremost, Denver Law’s clinical program has been a leading example of student-lawyers for over 100 years. With a dozen practice areas and established programs in unique subjects such as environmental law and tribal estate planning, Denver Law provides its students an incomparable opportunity to hone their practical skills to match their academic lessons.
Denver Law also houses a dedicated Advocacy Center which prepares students to advocate for their clients through its many competitive advocacy teams. Students compete in mock trial and moot court competitions while build legal writing, research, and oral argument skills.
Other students can opt to spend a semester working in a legal office where students can not only learn practical skills but also see the lifestyle of working attorneys.
Although Denver Law does not offer an online Juris Doctor program, its part-time evening program is one of the top programs in the country.
Denver Law has a 100 plus year tradition of creating passionate, socially active lawyers. The campus reflects this passion in many ways. The law school building was the first green law school built in the United States reflecting the school’s commitment to sustainable growth and environmental protection. The school’s robust student organization program is full of student-run groups that serve the Denver community in a variety of ways. Students are required to complete public service prior to graduation. In all, Denver Law students are progressive and passionate.
The city of Denver is one of the nation’s fastest growing and most dynamic cities. Aside from the vibrant downtown space of culinary delights and entertainment, the city is a gateway to Colorado’s outdoor delights with close proximity to ski resorts and endless hiking and biking trails. In part due to Denver’s excellent public transportation system, students can live throughout the metropolitan area or in the Platt Park neighborhood–a vibrant community of students and families who enjoy local eateries and breweries.