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Public Interest Law Project

Shannon Flowers

October 10, 2011

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Legal Aid Services of Oregon

I spent my summer working in the Multnomah County office ofLegal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO) in downtown Portland. Very little of my experience was what I had expected and I loved every minute of it. The office primarily handles housing law, elder law, public benefits law, and family law (specifically cases involving domestic violence). As far as legal research and writing, at least some of what I did involved determining whether any cause of action could be pursued for particular clients’ grievances, particularly in the area of housing law. It was exciting stuff, since some of what I uncovered could potentially set new precedents in Oregon landlord/tenant law. I also developed pamphlets explaining various proceedings, such as Child Custody & Parenting Time Evaluation hearings and Stalking Protective Order Hearings.

Summer law interns also take turns fielding calls for LASO’s Domestic Violence Project, which was probably the most rewarding part of my work this summer. This primarily involved talking with people needing help with restraining orders, providing information regarding community services for domestic violence victims, and either referring their case to a volunteer attorney for representation in their contested hearing or advising them on how to represent themselves. Through this experience, I learned so much about communicating with clients about their needs and obtaining the information necessary for evaluating their case. Most importantly, I came to better understand how significantly domestic violence affects every facet of a victim’s life, making leaving the relationship seem impossible. Countless times this summer, clients thanked me for helping them understand the legal tools that empower them to begin making those changes necessary to ending the cycle of violence. Few things in life have been so gratifying as helping someone find a fresh start. 

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