Sturm College of Law

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Sturm College of Law
University of Denver Sturm College of Law.jpg
Parent school University of Denver
Established 1892
School type Private
Parent endowment $620.24 million[1]
Dean Bruce Smith
Location Denver, Colorado, USA
39°40′45″N 104°57′40″W / 39.67917°N 104.96111°W / 39.67917; -104.96111Coordinates: 39°40′45″N 104°57′40″W / 39.67917°N 104.96111°W / 39.67917; -104.96111

735 full-time

138 part-time[2]
Faculty 155[3]
USNWR ranking 72[4]
Bar pass rate 83.54%[5]

The 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. According to Denver Law's 2013 ABA-required disclosures, 54.1% of the Class of 2013 obtained full-time, long-term, JD-required employment nine months after graduation, excluding solo practitioners.[6]


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 Denver 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.[7]

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 Denver 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 Denver 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 Clinical Programs train 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, the Rocky Mountain Child Advocacy Clinical Partnership and numerous hybrid programs 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 sizable 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.[8]

In 2013, law schools in the United States faced a thirty year low in applications.[9] In response, Dean Martin Katz, in a pitch to prospective students argued as follows:

Last year, contributing writer Shawn O’Connor stated in Forbes magazine – a respected source on value investing – that, despite its cost, a law school education is a “relatively low-risk investment that will have an impact on your future and can pay exceptional dividends over a lifetime.”[10]

Paul Campos, Professor at the University of Colorado Law School, responded to Dean Katz' pitch as follows:

Trust Forbes, not the critics! It's a good line, except that Forbes did not endorse legal education in the way that Katz implies. The column cited by Katz was not written by “Forbes” or by any member of its editorial staff. It was written by a Forbes "contributor" named Shawn O'Connor. O'Connor is the CEO of StratusPrep, a company that offers LSAT test prep classes and law school admissions coaching.[11]

Sturm namesake[edit]

College of Law: The Second LEED Certified Green Law School in the Country

[dead link][dead link]

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.[12]


Since the fall of 2003, the Sturm College of Law has resided in the Frank H. Ricketson Jr. Law Building located on the University Park campus near the Ritchie Center.[13] 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.[14]


Academic reputation[edit]

The University of Denver is currently ranked 67th in the nation by U.S. News & World Report.[15] According to the 2014 U.S. News Peer Reputation Rankings the University of Denver Sturm College of Law currently ranks 55th in the nation out of 194 ranked law schools.

The school was ranked 40th for public interest law by the National Jurist.[16] 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.[17] Every Juris Doctor student is required to perform a minimum of 50 hours of supervised, uncompensated, law-related public service work as a prerequisite for graduation.[18]

Clinical programs[edit]

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
  • Community Economic Development Clinic (transactional clinic)

The University of Denver is the home of the first clinical programs in the nation, founded in 1904.[7]

Trial advocacy[edit]

The University of Denver has a program 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.[19]

Employment statistics[edit]

54.1% of the Class of 2013 were known to be employed in long-term, full-time legal jobs (excepting solo practitioners) nine months after graduation. 31% of the Class of 2011 were employed in part-time or short-term jobs, unemployed and seeking employment or pursuing additional education. The employment status of 1.4% of the Class of 2011 was unknown. 0.7% of the Class of 2011 obtained a federal clerkship. 4.5% of the Class of 2011 were known to be employed in law firms of 101 attorneys or more. 18.1% of the Class of 2011 were known to be employed in full-time, long-term government or public interest jobs. 9.8% of the Class of 2011 were employed in school funded jobs. 37.3% of the Class of 2011 reported a full-time salary. [20]

ABA Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates[21]
Employment Status Percentage
Employed - Bar Passage Required (Full-Time, Long-Term)
Employed - Bar Passage Required (Part-Time and/or Short-Term)
Employed - J.D. Advantage
Employed - Professional Position
Employed - Non-Professional Position
Employed - Undeterminable
Pursuing Graduate Degree Full Time
Unemployed - Start Date Deferred
Unemployed - Not Seeking
Unemployed - Seeking
Employment Status Unknown
Total of 267 Graduates


Tuition for the 2014-15 academic year is $42,120 for full-time students and $30,888 for part-time students. The total cost of attendance including tuition, fees and living expenses is $60,951 for full-time students and $49,687 for part-time students.[22]

Law School Transparency calculates that the total debt-financed full cost of attendance for students in the Class of 2016, who do not receive tuition discounts (scholarships), to be $208,407.[20] Law School Transparency projects that the monthly payment for the 10-year plan to be $2,477.[23]

For full-time students in the class of 2016, Law School Transparency estimates that the total debt-financed cost of attendance for students who do not receive any scholarships is $208,407. This cost includes the cost of tuition, fees, and living expenses for 3 years, and the cost of student loan interest accrued over this time.

In the 2013-14 academic year, 46% of students received scholarships and the average scholarship award was $21,000.[24] Average indebtedness for 2013 graduates who borrowed at least 1 loan was $130,981.[25]

Notable alumni[edit]


  • Denver University Law Review
  • Denver Journal of International Law and Policy
  • Sports and Entertainment Law Journal
  • Transportation Law Journal
  • University of Denver Water Law Review
  • Race to the Bottom Blog
  • University of Denver Criminal Law Review


  1. ^
  2. ^
  3. ^
  4. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2015-09-05. Retrieved 2015-10-12. 
  5. ^
  6. ^ "Employment Statistics". 
  7. ^ a b "DU Law History"
  8. ^ "Westminster Law Library"
  9. ^ "Why Now is the Time to Apply to Denver Law". Sturm College of Law. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  10. ^ "Law Schools' Applications Fall as Costs Rise and Jobs Are Cut". New York Times. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  11. ^ "Trust". Inside the Law School Scam. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  12. ^ College of Law to be named for Donald L. Sturm
  13. ^ College of Law Building Named in Honor of 1919 Law Graduate
  14. ^ DU law school building earns LEEDS Gold certification
  15. ^ [1]
  16. ^ "National Jurist"
  17. ^ "Chancellor Scholarship"
  18. ^ "Public Service Requirement"
  19. ^ Alumni Magazine
  20. ^ a b "University of Denver Profile". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  21. ^ "Employment Summary for 2013 Graduates". 
  22. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  23. ^ "Status Report: Colorado". Law School Transparency. Retrieved 2013-02-17. 
  24. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  25. ^  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  26. ^ University of Denver -- Alumni
  27. ^ Severo, Richard. "Valentino Mazzia, 77, Student Of Deaths Under Anesthesia", The New York Times, March 21, 1999. Retrieved October 21, 2009.
  28. ^ Alumni Authors – Harry Maclean ’64 – – Retrieved November 23, 2009
  29. ^ ‘The Lizzie McGuire Movie': Where Are They Now?

External links[edit]