Rebeka Dawit

Rebeka Dawit

Degree: JD ’20, LLM ’21
Area(s) of study:
  • Environmental Law
Type of workplace:
  • Law firm
Practice area(s):
  • Environmental Law
Location: Portland, OR

What are you up to these days?

I am currently a staff attorney at the Crag Law Center. The Crag Law Center is a public interest environmental law center that supports community efforts to protect and sustain the Pacific Northwest’s natural legacy. My focus is on environmental and climate justice, which involves community engagement and support for groups who seek to advance equity and justice in environmental processes. You can check out my staff bio here

How did you get your job?

Honestly, this is my dream job and the reason why I went to law school, but I had no idea about the path that would take me here. First, I didn’t even know about the Crag Law Center until Career Services’ Public Interest Law Fair in February of my 1L year. After a 15-minute interview, they offered me a summer position after my 1L year. After that, I went on to do the Global Law Alliance for Animals and the Environment (GLA) with Professor Erica Lyman during my 2L year. Because of that 2L experience, Professor Lyman reached out for me to participate in the fellowship, which coincided with the LLM program. I graduated with my JD in 2020 and my LLM in 2021. I also worked at Center for Food Safety the summer before 3L and that fall, and my relationship with them was also pivotal in not only me growing as a young attorney, but also for the support they gave me during my job search.

Second, both of my experiences with GLA and Center for Food Safety also helped boost my resume when I applied for a fellowship with Crag after earning my LLM Because of my experience at GLA, my previous experience with Crag, and my interest in environmental justice, Crag decided to hire me as a permanent staff attorney rather than a fellow. 

What advice would you give to a graduating student who's looking for a job?

I have two pieces of advice for 3L students who are looking for a job: First, when I started at Lewis & Clark, everyone told me that if I want to pursue environmental law, I should be ready to move because of the tight legal market here in Portland, especially in environmental law. I felt that advice was harsh, but it is important to keep an open mind about the possibility of moving.

Second, while I had no expectations of a job offer at the end of it, I was very careful in maintaining and nurturing the relationships and connections I had built with the staff attorneys at Crag as well as with Professor Lyman. I’d keep them updated on my job search and ask for advice, and I continued volunteering for Crag, even when I was no longer clerking there. Maintaining these relationships are just as important as maintaining your grades, and I think this is what ultimately helped me get the job I have today.