The Judge Carrigan Legacy

Judge Jim CarriganThroughout his 84 years, the late Judge Jim Carrigan was a voice for the voiceless—whether it was defending women's rights in divorce cases, publicly calling out the racial inequalities of crack cocaine sentences, or working pro bono to help victims of the Columbine High School shooting.

These are just a few examples of the way Carrigan lived his values through his work. Carrigan, who served the state of Colorado as U.S. District Court Judge, Justice of the Colorado Supreme Court, and CU Regent, died in 2014.

Although not an alumnus, Jim Carrigan loved CU—in fact, five of the six Carrigan children attended CU, with three of them University of Colorado Law School graduates. To honor his dedication to public service, the Carrigan family created a loan forgiveness fund for Colorado Law students through a gift from Jim's estate.

"Jim was able to go to a small state school and not be burdened with loans when he left," said his wife, Beverly Carrigan. "He and the rest of our family realize attending college now is much different."

The loan forgiveness fund helps make a public interest legal career a feasible option for law school graduates facing the reality of their educational debt.

Colorado Law Class of 2016 (86 percent of whom took out at least one loan) graduated with an average debt load of $100,499. This makes it extremely difficult to pursue public sector jobs, which pay considerably less than jobs in private practice, without loan repayment assistance. The Judge Jim R. Carrigan Loan Repayment Assistance Program Fund will award one law school graduate in a public sector job annually approximately $6,000 per year for five years in debt forgiveness funds.

Making a philanthropic gift to Colorado Law was an easy choice for the Carrigan family. Beverly Carrigan said she plans to add to the fund at the time of her passing, and their son Michael ('94), a Denver attorney, and Colorado Law graduate, plans to follow suit.

"I want to make sure that future students have the same opportunities that I did," he said.

"Colorado has one public law school in the whole state. Because of the lack of public funding, it has become very expensive to attend, even for Colorado residents, and as a result they can graduate with significant debt. We want to support their desire to use their law degree to serve the community. That is consistent with the Judge Carrigan legacy."

This fund is not the only way the Carrigan family has served CU: both Jim and Michael have served as elected members of the University of Colorado Board of Regents. Their generosity and service to CU is greatly appreciated.