Legal Externship Program 2023 Highlights
At Denver Law, we remain proud of our robust and expansive externship program. We experienced yet another year of growth – hosting a total of 659 externships this past academic year, our highest enrollment to date. We continue offering a diverse range of experiences, with 50% public sector placements and 50% private sector placements. And, this year, for the first time, paid externships reached the 50% mark. With the costs of legal education continuing to rise, we are pleased to help students slowly chip away at their debt and experience some short-term relief with such payment.
While we know that externships often indirectly lead to employment, we are always particularly enthusiastic when students join former externship sites as full-time employees after graduation. This past year, one former extern earned the prestigious Equal Justice Works fellowship to remain at her placement. Other externs joined the Colorado Attorney General’s office through their fellowship program, began careers in both small and big law firms and clerked with Colorado appellate courts. Of course, countless graduates joined public defender and district attorney offices, after being certified as externs under the Colorado Student Practice Rule, representing clients and leading trials, with supervision. Ultimately, through their hands-on work, active reflection and ability to incorporate feedback, our externs’ skills are growing, their professional identities are forming and they are securing jobs.
Despite the size of our program, we remain committed to specialty programs as well. For example, our Semester in Practice program continues to allow for an immersive and in-depth learning opportunity. Our partnership with the Rocky Mountain Veterans Advocacy Project allows about 20 students per year to represent veterans in discharge cases, fulfilling a critical need in the region. Our Child Advocacy Practicum brings together the next generation of lawyers dedicated to serving youth across public and private sectors, while our partnership with the Colorado Supreme Court and Colorado Court of Appeals for its Lorenzo Márquez Externship Program provides opportunities for student growth while fostering goals around access and representation.
The externship program strongly values collaboration, teamwork, and the ability to provide students with individualized support. This past year, we eagerly welcomed two new faculty members to enhance the team. Assistant Professor of the Practice Katie Steefel joined the program bringing judicial, small firm and appellate public defense experience alongside scholarly interests in criminal law, constitutional law and professional identity. Visiting Assistant Professor of the Practice Lauren Valastro brings “Big Law” and corporate practice experience as well as experience teaching law courses at Louisiana State University - Shreveport College of Business.
Always dedicated to student development and innovation, the externship team at the Sturm College of Law looks forward to another exciting and meaningful year with our students.