Hurth, Sisk & Blakemore has close ties to the University of Colorado Law School, including almuni Chuck Sisk and Jessica Higgins Catlin. Stacey Abrams recently delivered the commencement address at the school and Lolita Buckner Inniss is about to become dean of Colorado Law.

Stacey Abrams shares lessons in life, law with Colorado Law class of 2021

After navigating their final year of law school amid a pandemic and a social justice movement, 200 graduates from Colorado Law celebrated their landmark accomplishments in a virtual ceremony on May 8.

The class, comprised of Juris Doctor, Legum Magister and Master of Studies in Law graduates, and their families heard from political leader, voting rights activist and keynote speaker Stacey Abrams, a former member of the Georgia House of Representatives (2007–17) and the first Black woman to deliver a response to the State of the Union Address (2019).

Stacey Abrams keynote: Colorado Law 2021 commencement

Abrams talked about the power of belonging in society and her perspective on life, law and a lawyer’s call to action. Despite growing up in poverty, Abrams was highly motivated in school and was named valedictorian in high school. She was invited to a celebration for valedictorians at the Georgia governor’s mansion, but was initially denied entry by a guard at the door after he witnessed her get off a city bus with her parents. Her father and mother––who placed a high value on education and were both working towards masters degrees in Divinity at the time––stood up for their daughter until they were admitted to the event.

“I remember nothing from that day except a man standing in front of the most powerful place in all of Georgia and telling me I don’t belong,” she said.

She charged Colorado Law graduates with protecting that societal sense of belonging as they move through their careers.

“Belonging is a word we use a lot, and it is a hard thing to hold on to––particularly when you enter spaces that don’t expect you, that don’t want you, that are willing to reject you at the drop of a hat,” she said. “As lawyers, you will be called upon to enforce the notion of belonging. It is your responsibility to not let the laws divide us from society.”

Photo: Stacey Abrams speaks at TEDWomen 2018: Showing Up. CC photo by Marla Aufmuth / TED

Lolita Buckner Inniss to become dean of Colorado Law

University of Colorado Boulder Provost Russell Moore today named Lolita Buckner Inniss dean of the University of Colorado Law School, effective July 1, 2021. Inniss will become Colorado Law’s first African American dean and second female to lead the school.

Lolita Buckner Inniss | Dean of Colorado Law | HS&B

Lolita Buckner Inniss

She will arrive May 1 as a visiting professor to get to know the current law students, faculty and staff, prepare for incoming law students and expedite her transition to becoming the dean. Inniss will succeed Colorado Law Dean James Anaya, who will continue as a university distinguished professor when his appointment as dean ends on June 30. He will also hold the Nicholas R. Doman Professorship in International Law.

“Professor Inniss impressed many constituents in our campus community, including the search committee and me, with her accomplished record as a legal scholar and her inspiring, expansive vision for Colorado Law,” said Moore. “Based on my interactions with her, I am confident that she will build upon and extend the gains in accessibility, excellence and national reputation achieved by Dean Anaya, and will take Colorado Law to all new and exciting levels of success.”

Inniss is the senior associate dean for academic affairs and a professor of law, university distinguished professor and the inaugural Robert G. Storey Distinguished Faculty Fellow at the Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law.

She received a bachelor’s degree from Princeton University, where she majored in romance languages and literature with certifications (minors) in African American and Latin American Studies. She earned her Juris Doctor from UCLA, where she was an editor of the National Black Law Journal. She also holds a masters of law degree with distinction and a doctoral degree in law from Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, in Canada, where she focused on comparative racism and legal history. At York University, Inniss received the Mary Jane Mossman Award for Work in Feminist Legal Theory and the Harley D. Hallett Award. Also at York University, she  was a Peter Hogg Scholar and a graduate associate of the Institute of Feminist Legal Studies.

“I am both honored and delighted to be named the next dean of Colorado Law,” Inniss said. “This is a marvelous opportunity to make further contributions to the study of law working with CU Boulder students, faculty and staff, and to help lead a dynamic and nationally recognized law school into a bold new future.”

Moore paid tribute to Anaya, thanking him “for his strong commitment to Colorado Law” and recognizing his many achievements during his tenure as dean.

“These include a range of programs to make Colorado Law more diverse, inclusive and accessible for students from the full spectrum of economic, social and cultural backgrounds,” Moore said.

“I also want to thank Michele Moses, vice provost and associate vice chancellor for faculty affairs and committee chair, and members of the search committee for their hard work and commitment throughout this process,” continued Moore. “The quality of the four candidates presented as finalists is a testament to the outstanding national reputation and impact of Colorado Law.”