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Public Interest Law Project

Francie Graham

October 10, 2011

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Legal Aid Services of Oregon

Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Portland, OR

One of the experiences that drew me to law school was serving low-income families as child support case manager at Oregon’s Department of Justice. As I watched parents struggle to navigate the legal system on their own, I wished I could take a more active role as an advocate. Clerking this summer at LASO, an organization that provides a wide variety of civil legal services to people living in poverty, was a perfect fit for me. LASO and the Oregon Law Center (OLC) serve over 20,000 clients each year, but the demand for services far outweighs the supply—over 80% of the civil legal needs of the poor go unmet despite LASO and OLC’s tireless efforts—so summer law clerks provide critical support to LASO attorneys and clients.

Clerking for LASO was a fabulous experience. I refined my research and writing skills and got hands-on experience in many different practice areas—I researched and wrote memos on housing, family law, public benefits, and consumer law issues; interviewed domestic violence survivors and connected them with volunteer attorneys; tracked foreclosure-related evictions; and answered questions from parents on the child support hotline. I observed trial court dockets, moot court oral argument preparation, and oral arguments at the Oregon Court of Appeals. I was also surrounded by an incredible community of supportive attorneys whose example strengthens my commitment to poverty law.

I am so grateful to PILP for giving me the opportunity to learn and serve my community at LASO. The stipend gave me a chance to provide direct, tangible services to the most vulnerable members of our community—a chance I would never have had without the generous support of PILP. Thank you!

 

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