The Water Law Review: One way to make the most out of law school

An interview with past Water Law Review Editor-in-Chief, Allison Altaras.  Reposted courtesy of the University of Denver Sturm College of Law – part of Denver Law’s 2010-15 Strategic Plan

“Law school is what you make of it,” says 2013 Denver Law grad Allison Altaras. She centered her legal education around her participation on the University of Denver Water Law Review (WLR), for seventeen years a go-to source for scholars and attorneys writing and practicing in this specialized, technical, and extremely important area of the law. For Denver Law students, says Allison, the 2012-13 Editor-in-Chief, the WLR can be an incomparable way to build lawyering skills and begin professional networking. Plus, she says, “water issues will define our future. It’s an important and interdisciplinary area of the law.”

“A lot of people advise law students to do nothing but academics the first year,” recalls Allison. “And that’s not bad advice. But I think it can be a mistake to delay your involvement in something like the WLR because of the opportunities that exist for 1Ls to be published and network in the DU community and beyond. We invite 1Ls to write on at the beginning and at the mid-point of their first year. Once on the journal, these students begin to develop essential research and writing skills they might not otherwise pick up until much later, even after graduating. That’s a definite advantage when it comes to succeeding in first year writing classes and ultimately landing a summer position at the end of the first year.”

Allison emphasizes that along with building lawyering skills, the WLR introduces student members to the professional community. “We get the 1Ls involved early on, and through their continued involvement with the WLR and its community of supporters, they eventually have opportunities to intern at places like Denver Water, the Colorado Water Trust, in the Natural Resources Division of the State’s Attorney General’s office, at the EPA and DOJ, and many other places. At our annual Water Law Review Spring Symposium, students meet and work alongside legal practitioners and other professionals—engineers, geologists and policymakers.”

Practitioners in the water law community make themselves available to WLR members, says Allison. “We have strong relationships with attorneys and with the organizations. It’s a small community, and its members are welcoming and nurturing. They are interested in teaching and mentoring the next generation. Many of the leading figures in Colorado water law are former WLR members themselves, or have written articles for the journal. So there are many opportunities out there for our students.”

In the fall, Allison Altaras will take her place in the professional community she has come to know well while serving on the Water Law Review. In 2013-14, she will clerk for Hon. Gregory J. Hobbs, Jr., associate justice of the Colorado Supreme Court and author of “Colorado Water Law: An Historical Overview,” which was published in the very first edition of the University of Denver Water Law Review in the fall of 1997. Following her clerkship, Allison plans to practice natural resources law in the Denver offices of Ryley Carlock & Applewhite. She candidly explains that she found both of these jobs through her involvement with the Water Law Review and looks forward to joining the vast network of DU alumni and the journal’s supporters in paying forward the kindnesses that have come to her via the Water Law Review.