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Student Experience

Chair of Modern Learning Supports Innovations in Legal Education

By Amanda Basler

What is the value of a law degree? In recent years, that question has been top of mind for every aspiring attorney. A gift made to Ascend: The Campaign for the University of Denver is ensuring that students at Sturm College of Law are earning a degree that will not only give them legal knowledge, but also the practical skills and ethical foundation to become an effective, practicing attorney upon graduation. And in turn, they will be stronger job candidates.

When James “Jim” Mulligan JD‘74 earned his law degree at DU, he worked for the general counsel of a real estate company and balanced his part-time work schedule with law classes. Jim considered this informal apprenticeship to be the key to his success as an attorney. Fulfilling a desire for other students to benefit from a similar experience, Jim and his wife, Joan Burleson JD’85, made a lead gift that created the Mulligan Burleson Chair in Modern Learning, the first of its kind in the nation. Alumnus and trustee Doug Scrivner JD’77 and his wife, Mary, also supported the endowed chair.

Held by distinguished Professor Roberto Corrada, the chair ensures that law students at the University have access to experiential learning that integrates three fundamental apprenticeships of legal education: analytical skills (how lawyers think), professional skills (what lawyers do) and professional formation (ethical considerations lawyers face). By combining robust courses that include innovative simulation methods with clinical courses and an extensive externship program, all Sturm College of Law students can spend one full year of law school in a hands-on, experiential learning environment. Sturm College of Law is one of only 16 law schools in the U.S. to offer this innovative curriculum.

“We are bridging the gap between a traditional academic degree and professional experience,” says Professor Corrada. “We are taking bold steps to ensure that by the time they graduate, our students will know exactly what is expected of them when they step into a courtroom or join the legal team at a firm.”


Through ASCEND Stories, we examine the impact that philanthropy has made on the lives of our students, faculty, alumni, and donors during ASCEND: The Campaign for the University of Denver.

If you want to learn more, please contact the office of
Donor Relations & Stewardship at 303.871.2699.

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