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Public Interest Law Project

Ginger M. Beck

October 10, 2011

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Oregon Law Center

Oregon Law Center (Portland, OR)

The Oregon Law Center (OLC) is a public interest organization that provides free civil legal services to low income Oregonians, around the state. The services range from family law to housing law (landlord tenant) to employment benefits. I worked in the downtown office, here in Portland and primarily did legal research projects for attorneys, both local and for others all over the state. The types of projects I researched were diverse and many were completely new to me. This was a good challenge; I had to learn about law regarding issues such as tribal sovereign immunity and landlord/ tenant law to write memos and respond to attorneys questions.

The landlord/tenant legal work took me to Salem three times to be part of a coalition group—working to understand and define effective housing law with regard to tenants and landlords by analyzing changes to the Oregon statutes for the upcoming legislative session. This project combined my prior pro bono work with CAT (Community Alliance of Tenants) from Spring semester with my summer clerkship because OLC works with CAT to lobby for tenants rights. My clerkship really helped me to feel a part of the network of people doing public interest work. By being at the OLC I met so many thoughtful and interesting attorneys who really expanded my awareness of public interest opportunities in Oregon.

My work afforded me the opportunity to get out of the office to go to hearings both at the County and Federal courthouses, as well as to tour Dignity Village and to do outreach with migrant farm workers who are living in camps just outside of the city, in rural Oregon. These opportunities were really eye-opening and unique. Getting a PILP stipend was awesome! It allowed me to do legal work that I felt passionately about while getting compensated . It was a great learning opportunity and I really enjoyed all of the people who I worked with and met along the way—it was a transformative experience for me, as my first legal job.

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