Denver Law Day of Service Puts Public Good into Action
Third annual event supports local communities
What does park maintenance and packing school supplies for youngsters have to do with law school? Everything when you are a new student at the University of Denver’s Sturm College of Law.
Incoming first-year law students, graduate students and transfer students were welcomed to campus Aug. 6-9 for orientation. As part of the introduction, new students participated in the third annual Denver Law Day of Service to contribute to the public good and support local communities. Students stocked school supplies for children in Jefferson County, provided grounds maintenance and gardened, organized canned foods at multiple hunger relief organizations, and served meals.
The Day of Service allows students to build relationships with each other and live out the University’s mission to be a private university dedicated to the public good. Denver Law students have countless opportunities to use their legal training to help the community, and this event introduces them to that concept before their first law school class, according to associate professor and director of externships and public interest initiatives, Alexi Freeman.
Community and pro bono work are embedded in the law school’s culture, and this opportunity gives students the opportunity to commit to fostering public good into action. It also immerses students in the real-world challenges around them, helping to contextualize the lessons learned in the classroom. The Day of Service is also about preparing students for the future.
“Having our incoming students participate in the Day of Service is integral to our plan to introduce our students to the responsibilities and privileges for serving as lawyers in our community,” Freeman said.
For law student Paige Pashea, who volunteered her time at Observatory Park near DU, that commitment to the public good was one of the aspects that attracted her to Sturm.
“The great thing about [Sturm] is that it has a very interactive legal community and they want to help others. I was very interested in that from the start,” she said.
This year, Sturm partnered with 10 groups: Bluff Nature Center; City Harvest Food Bank; Denver Parks and Recreation; Food Bank of the Rockies; Groundwork Denver; Metro Caring; The Action Center; Third Way Center; Volunteers of America Early Childhood Learning Center; and Volunteers of America Mission
Omar Silva used his volunteering experience for both public good and a chance to strengthen his network, which will be vital during his legal education. “It’s a good way to give back to your community and meet new people,” he said. “I get to make new friends that I will see through my three years of law school.”
That’s exactly what the event is designed to do.
“The Day of Service is a wonderful way for students to build community with each other while doing good. Our Day of Service takes them out of the building, allows them to work as a team, and decompress and contribute to the needs of the broader Denver community,” Freeman added. “They made us proud.”