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Sturm College of Law

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Sturm College of Law
Parent school University of Denver
Established 1892
School type Private non-profit
Dean Bruce Smith
Location Denver, CO, US
Enrollment 1200
Faculty (See List)
USNWR ranking 77
Annual tuition
Outlines 0 (See List)
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Sturm College of Law is located in Denver, CO

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law ("DU Law") is one of two law schools in the state of Colorado, and the only law school in the Denver metro area. Founded in 1892, the Sturm College of Law is one of the first in America's Mountain West. The college is located on the University of Denver's main campus, about seven miles south of downtown Denver.

As the only law school in the Denver metro area, DU law students are able to pursue internships with the some of the firms, corporations, government and non-profit agencies, as well as the United States Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit and the United States District Court for the District of Colorado, located in downtown Denver.

History and background

The University of Denver College of Law opened its doors in 1892, pioneering legal education on America’s frontier and graduating many of the attorneys and judges who built the legal structure of America’s Mountain West. Independence, ingenuity, and excellence remain guiding principles at DU Law and for the whole of the University of Denver, which also includes top graduate schools in business, international studies, social work and other fields.[1]

The law school initially adopted an apprenticeship model of legal education, recruiting the most prestigious attorneys in Denver to teach students the nuts and bolts of the practice of law. Students gained invaluable insight from their practitioner professors; aside from the rigors of classroom study, students also frequently observed courtroom proceedings. This approach to teaching students by employing in-the-field methods remains at the heart of DU Law.

A pioneer amidst pioneers, the College of Law opened the doors to its Legal Aid Dispensary in 1904, thus creating the first clinical programs in the nation and the precursor to DU Law’s Student Law Office (SLO). A frontrunner in serving Denver’s indigent populations, the Dispensary saw several incarnations before it evolved into the law school’s present day clinical programs. The SLO trains law students in the practice of law under the supervision of experienced faculty, while at the same time representing the under-served in criminal defense, civil practice, civil rights and disabilities, tax, and mediation matters. The Environmental Law Clinic, and Rocky Mountain Child Advocacy Clinical Partnership and the Tenth Circuit Clinic give students additional opportunities for public interest practice.

The Westminster Law School is an important part of the history of legal education in Denver. For 45 years, from its founding in 1912 to its merger with the University of Denver College of Law in 1957, Westminster provided the only evening program of law study from Kansas City to the Pacific Coast. In Westminster’s prime, it boasted a sizeable student body and its alumni were successful in passing the bar and practicing law. Evolving accreditation standards eventually required too large a budget for the strictly part-time institution, and the school merged with the University of Denver. Terms of the merger included naming the law library the Westminster Law Library and the development of an evening program at the College of Law.[2]

Sturm namesake

The Sturm College of Law is named for Donald L. Sturm, owner of Denver-based American National Bank. In 2004, Mr. and Mrs. Sturm generously gave the College of Law $20 million, the largest single donation in the school's history and one of the largest gifts ever to the University of Denver.[3]

Ricketson Law Building

Since the fall of 2003, the Sturm College of Law has resided in a new, state of the art, $63.5 million facility called the "Frank H. Ricketson Jr. Law Building" located on the University Park campus near the Ritchie Center.[4] The new facility is distinguished as the nation’s first certified “green” law building, having been awarded the Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) certification by the U.S. Green Building Council.[5]


Academic reputation

DU Law ranks as one of the top 100 law schools in the nation by U.S. News & World Report. It is currently ranked 77th, with a part-time program ranked 13th.[6]

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Sturm College of Law: The Second LEED Certified Green Law School in the Country[7]

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The school is known for its commitment to public service and is ranked as a top law school for public interest law by the National Jurist (currently ranked 40).[8] To support this initiative, the Sturm College of Law offers the Chancellor’s Scholar Program with full tuition scholarships awarded to selected students with a demonstrated history of excellence in scholarship and public service.[9] Every Juris Doctor student is required to perform a minimum of fifty hours of supervised, uncompensated, law-related public service work during his or her law school career as a prerequisite for graduation.[10]

Clinical programs

The University of Denver is the home of the first clinical programs in the nation, founded in 1904.
  • Civil Litigation Clinic
  • Civil Rights Clinic
  • Criminal Representation Clinic
  • Environmental Law Clinic
  • Mediation & Arbitration Clinic

The University of Denver is the home of the first clinical programs in the nation, founded in 1904.[1]

Trial advocacy

The University of Denver is particularly well known for its outstanding programs in trial advocacy. The school sponsors several traveling trial teams that compete nationally and internationally, including:

  • The ABA Trial Team
  • The AAJ Trial Team
  • The Jessup Moot Court Team (competes in international law)
  • The Vis Moot Court Team (competes in international commercial arbitration)

Additionally, the University hosts several intra school Moot Court Competitions with most open to all students, including 1Ls.

  • Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons Negotiations Competition
  • Daniel S. Hoffman Trial Advocacy Competition
  • Ved P. Nanda International Appellate Advocacy Competition
  • Client Counseling Competition
  • Peter H. Holme, Jr. Barrister’s Cup Appellate Advocacy Competition
  • Honorable Phillip S. Figa Motions Competition

The STLA (Student Trial Lawyers Association) is the largest student run organization on campus and was recently chosen by Sturm College of Law Students as the year's most "Outstanding Student Organization." The organization hosts several mock trial rounds and is open to all students wanting to participate. Participants are given feedback and guidance from their peers, practicing attorneys, and area judges. It is a non-competitive environment designed for educational and networking purposes.[11]

Notable alumni



External links