February 20, 2023

Tenant’s Rights Advocate Receives Public Interest Law Award

The Amburgey Award presented each year by PILP for commitment to public interest law, is given to alumna Becky Straus ’09, for her work at the Oregon Eviction Defense Project (EDP).

Becky Straus ’09, the Managing Attorney of the Oregon Law Center’s Eviction Defense Project (EDP), is the 2023 Amburgey Award recipient. The award was established in 2011 to recognize outstanding Lewis & Clark Law School alumni who demonstrate a long-term and loyal commitment to public interest law and is given annually at the PILP auction.

EDP is a joint program of Oregon’s three primary legal aid providers across the state: OLC, Legal Aid Services of Oregon and the Center for Nonprofit Legal Services. EDP provides free legal help, information or referral to low-income tenants facing eviction and has assisted close to 10,000 households since its start in early 2021.

Becky Straus believes in the work of EDP because it is a critical piece in an effective homelessness response system. When tenants have access to legal help, they are more likely to remain stable in their housing and avoid homelessness.

She recalls her time at the Law School as the foundation and inspiration for her decision to practice public interest law. She built meaningful relationships with fellow students involved in PILP and was a PILP stipend recipient for a summer at the East Bay Community Law Center in Berkeley, CA. There, she practiced housing law at a legal clinic, an experience that sparked her career-long interest in providing legal representation to low-income tenants.

Straus notes that she is grateful to the faculty at L&C, PILP, and the many attorneys in the Portland area, who were generous with their time and mentorship during her time in law school, who showed her how to use a legal education to pursue social justice work.