Academics and Research / News

Alumni gifts endow experiential-learning chair at Sturm College of Law

Talking about reinventing the way law is taught is one thing. Doing it is another.

The University of Denver Sturm College of Law is doing it.

Last year, Denver Law announced it was joining a consortium of law schools determined to produce graduates better prepared to enter the working world. Under the leadership of the Institute for the Advancement of the American Legal System, based at the University of Denver, the program, Educating Tomorrow’s Lawyers, has grown to include 25 schools, including Cornell, Vanderbilt and Stanford.

But a gift announced Dec. 11 will provide resources to tackle some of the program’s biggest challenges.

Denver Law alumni James “Jim” Mulligan (JD ’74) and Joan Burleson (JD ’85) are giving $2.25 million to endow the Mulligan Burleson Chair in Modern Learning, which will lead the school’s drive toward integrating experiential learning across the curriculum. Augmenting the donation is an additional gift from alumnus and trustee Doug Scrivner (JD ’77) and his wife, Mary.

Experiential learning is a big part of reinventing law school. It’s a way of integrating simulated legal problems – sometimes, in the case of clinical practice, real legal problems – into a student’s course work.

Professor Roberto Corrada, a national leader in experiential learning, has been named to the new chair. The gift will allow Corrada to work with the Modern Learning Committee, comprised of leaders in the school’s clinical, externship and legal writing programs, along with full-time and adjunct faculty. The support that comes with the new chair will help the University of Denver incorporate new ways of teaching across the curriculum.

Denver Law’s commitment to experiential learning will include an expansion of opportunities in the school’s legal clinics, where students practice as lawyers in real cases, in real courtrooms, under the guidance of professors. Students also will engage in more simulations and externships, preparing for the practice of law outside the classroom.

University of Denver Chancellor Robert Coombe says the gifts will be put to excellent use.

“We are very grateful to Jim and Joan and to Doug and Mary,” Coombe says. “They are all very close members of the University community, all truly dedicated to the continued growth of quality at the Sturm College. This is a wonderful gift.”

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