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Marianne Wesson named Schaden Chair in Experiential Learning

March 21, 2011

Boulder — University of Colorado Law School Dean David Getches today announced Marianne “Mimi” Wesson as the first Schaden Chair in Experiential Learning, a newly endowed position at Colorado Law.

Wesson has been a member of the Colorado Law School faculty for over two decades, teaching and researching in the areas of criminal law, evidence and trial advocacy. She practiced criminal law as an assistant attorney general for the state of Texas and as an assistant U.S. attorney for the district of Colorado.

“Mimi brings the right balance of traditional classroom teaching and hands-on law practice as the inaugural Schaden Chair,” said Getches. “We are delighted to have her as a member of our faculty and that she has accepted this new position.”

Colorado Law has long been a leader in hands-on legal education. The school was one of the nation's first to establish a legal aid and defender clinic more than 60 years ago. Students can acquire academic credit working on cases in one of Colorado Law’s nine clinics, in areas ranging from civil and criminal cases to entrepreneurial law to American Indian law.  In addition to helping students connect theory with practice, Colorado Law's clinics provide free legal services for underserved clients who could otherwise not afford legal assistance.

"I've always thought that in law teaching, theory and practice are not antagonistic, as they are sometimes portrayed, but mutually reinforcing,” said Wesson. “Nothing makes theory more vivid and useful than example, and nothing makes practice more virtuosic and flexible than an understanding of the theory that it serves.

“Linking the two in legal education can be immensely powerful.  We've accomplished this link in many ways in the recent past, but this Schaden gift will allow us to pursue this enterprise in a more sustained, thoughtful, and productive way.  I'm very honored to have been chosen to lead it."

Wesson has been a member of the Criminal Law Test Development Committee of the National Conference of Bar Examiners for more than 30 years, including several years as its chair. Her expertise has made her an often-sought commentator for several media outlets, including NBC, ABC, CBS, MSNBC, the Washington Post, the Dallas Morning News and The Denver Post. She has also been a legal correspondent for National Public Radio.

Wesson is also an accomplished novelist with three works of fiction published:  A Suggestion of Death, Render Up the Body (for which she was named a finalist for the Colorado Book Award) and Chilling Effect. Her most recent book A Death at Crooked Creek: The Hillmon Case and the Supreme Court is scheduled to be published in 2012.

The Schaden Chair in Experiential Learning is funded by an endowment from Richard F. and Rick E. Schaden. The endowment was designed to enhance Colorado Law's clinical programs, externships, appellate and moot-court competitions, and fund additional voluntary pro bono work.

The $5 million endowment is the largest of several recent Colorado Law gifts by the Schadens, who were also instrumental in helping to fund the Wolf Law Building.  Richard F. Schaden, of Boulder County, is an aeronautical engineer, businessman, restaurateur, highly recognized trial lawyer and founding partner of the aviation and public-interest law firm Schaden, Katzman, Lampert and McClune. His son Rick E. Schaden of Denver, graduated magna cum laude from the University of Colorado at Denver in 1987, and is founder, chairman, and (with his father) majority shareholder of Quiznos, building the company since 1991 to more than 5,000 franchises worldwide.