“If you can see it, you can be it.” That’s the motto that guides the work for Denver District Court Judge Adam Espinosa’s Dream Team. Their mission is to increase the pipeline of diverse students entering the legal profession, and the Dream Team has a strong belief that representation matters. When kids and young adults see people working in the legal field who look like them and share similar experiences, the idea that they too could go to college and law school becomes more and more tangible.
Judge Espinosa knows from personal experience how impactful it can be to a young person to have early exposure to professionals or an influential adult talking about options like college, graduate school, and professional school. For him, it was his mom. Though she graduated from high school, she did not go to college in her youth, yet insisted that all her children do so. She wanted her family to have opportunities, so early in her relationship with Judge Espinosa’s father, she encouraged him to join the military, affording their family experiences they likely would not have had otherwise. His mom valued education and ensured that her sons attended college. But once in college, Judge Espinosa recalls feeling lost and unsure what type of career he wanted to pursue. He kept studying and eventually attended Washburn Law School and finished at the University of Denver Law School. He had never met a lawyer or a judge until he started law school but credits a lot of his success to his mom’s determination and presence in his life. In fact, two of her sons are judges now, as Judge Espinosa’s brother was just sworn in as a Federal Magistrate Judge in New Jersey last month.
Because of his life experiences, Judge Espinosa is committed to giving back to the community. When the late Judge Wylie Daniels, who started the Dream Team, approached Judge Espinosa about taking over the program, Judge Espinosa said yes immediately, knowing what an incredible impact this could have in students’ lives. Judge Espinosa has led the program since Judge Daniels passed away in May of 2019 and is proud to continue the legacy.
The Dream Team is a group of about 20 legal professionals, including lawyers, judges, police officers, clerks, and paralegals. They focus on programming for high school and college kids and currently partner with Vista Peak Prep in Aurora, Arupe Jesuit, East High School, DU Law School, and are going to begin working with Overland and Smokey Hill High Schools. They also partner with Denver Kids to get programming to younger kids. The schools they target are generally schools with high racial and socioeconomic diversity.
The Dream Team aims to get the students interested in the law and consider it as a legitimate choice for their future profession. With each school, the Dream Team gives a short presentation about a hot topic (ex: First Amendment rights regarding on-line speech, rights when protesting, the right to wear one’s natural hair as they choose, etc.) then transition that topic into how students might achieve a pathway into a legal profession and stimulate interest in higher education. They’ve achieved success with the program, filling classrooms and auditoriums. Because of his professional success and engagement over the years through the Dream Team, Vista Peak High School invited Judge Espinosa to give their commencement speech in May of 2022. Judge Espinosa’s passion for this program is immediately evident, and the impact that this program has on students’ lives is inspirational.
If you are interested in inspiring the lives of youth in our local communities through Judge Espinosa’s Dream Team, please contact him via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Honorable Adam J. Espinosa is a Denver District Court Judge assigned to the Criminal Division where he presides over felony criminal matters. Previously, he served as a Denver County Court Judge where he presided over the Civil, Municipal Criminal, and State Criminal Divisions of that court, presiding over two hundred and eighty trials. Prior to joining the bench, Judge Espinosa served as a senior trial attorney for the Colorado Supreme Court Office of Attorney Regulation Counsel and as a deputy district attorney in several Colorado counties. Judge Espinosa is active in the community, having served in leadership positions on numerous local, state, and national boards including the Denver Crime Prevention and Control Commission, the Colorado Supreme Court Access to Justice Commission, the ABA Standing Committee on Client Protection, and the Colorado Hispanic Bar Association. Judge Espinosa is a frequent lecturer and author for the several bar associations, law schools, and other groups on various legal, ethical, and professional responsibility topics. He has taught over one hundred continuing legal education courses and published several articles in the area of legal ethics, access to justice, and unbundled legal services. Judge Espinosa has dedicated his legal career to public service, public safety, and access to justice. He is committed to serving the people of Denver and to the improvement of our courts.