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Published January 29, 2018
UW College of Law student Danielle Feland was recently offered and accepted a position with the Colorado Public Defender's Office following graduation. Feland, a current third-year student, will graduate in May 2018 and is excited to embark on her legal career, landing her dream job straight out of the gate.
Originally from Antler, North Dakota, Feland is first generation college graduate and mainly grew up in Fort Collins, Colorado. She attended the University of Northern Colorado for her undergraduate education where she earned a Bachelor's degree in English in 2013.
She came to the College of Law unsure of what she wanted to do, only that she wanted to help people. It was here through her experiences in the Legal Clinical Programs that Feland found her calling.
Feland participated in both the Defender Aid Clinic as well as the Civil Legal Services Clinic. The experience left her with a zeal for litigation and criminal law, and passion for defense work.
"The Civil Legal Services Clinic really gave me my first taste of litigation," says Feland. "Under the mentorship of Professor Cover, I not only gained an incredible skillset in the courtroom, but I really came to appreciate that the reason we are there is for the client. It is all about them. Really embracing that mentality added a lot of value to the work that I was doing."
Professor Cover is extremely complimentary about the work Feland produced in the Clinic.
"Danielle adapted to the client-centered model of client representation easily," say Cover. "She was always willing to engage in an exploration not only of how the law fit the facts of her cases, but also how any possible resolution would impact her clients' lives. She did not practice in the bubble of always being right about what path to take. Her trial preparation skills were intense and she was willing to take constructive critique when such feedback improved the outcomes for her client or made her clients' positions more clear."
While the Civil Legal Services Clinic equipped her with a client-based drive and fierce set of skills, Feland found she preferred criminal defense work through her experience in the Defender Aid Clinic.
"I got a really good taste of both civil and criminal law practice through the clinics," says Feland. "It feels like such a luxury to have been on both sides and now know which I prefer."
Taking that direction, Feland decided to do an externship with the Colorado Public Defender's office in order to gain more experience in the area that she loved. It was a perfect fit and led to a job offer.
Feland could not be happier about the opportunity.
"The job is perfect for me because it is criminal defense and service based," she explains. "I don't yet know where in Colorado I'll actually be because they are going to send me to the town where there is the most need. I think that is so important that their system is focused on the client and the offices are oriented in a manner that allows them to best serve."
The passion for service was something that Feland tried to practice in her daily life. While in law school, she participated in the Women's Law Forum, the Multicultural Law Student Group, and volunteered to help during the many law student competitions. She even competed in last year's Richard E. Day Client Counseling Competition, won, and went on to represent the College of Law at Regionals in Chicago.
She's now taken that a step further and volunteered as a coach for the Laramie High School Mock Trial Team. With the help of her mentorship, the team swept the High School Mock Trial Competition and advanced to regionals.
"Law school has had a lasting impact on me regarding the need for social justice and public service," says Feland. "I feel like it is really important to pass on that passion and light a fire in others."
Her generosity was deeply appreciated by the Laramie High School Mock Trial Program.
According to the Director of the Program, Whitney Martin, Feland donated an incredible amount of time in serving as a judge and jury member for a number of dress rehearsals, as well as coached the students on their courtroom presence, and reviewed their case materials.
"It takes a unique personality to work effectively with high school students and Danielle was a wonderful fit," says Martin. "She knew how to appropriately speak to and direct the students in her constructive criticism and praise of their work, and the students were drawn to her energy and thrived from her feedback. The Laramie High School Mock Trial Program is beyond grateful for Danielle's efforts in volunteering and we hope to continue our relationship with such a promising law student and generous individual."
The College of Law is extremely pleased to have students like Feland out in the world representing the University. We are excited for her to embark on a career with the Colorado Public Defender's Office, and know that she will continue to make an extraordinary difference for those who need it most.