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Public Interest Law Project

Liv Brumfield

June 01, 2011

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Columbia Riverkeeper

Columbia Riverkeeper, Hood River, OR 

My PILP stipend allowed me to spend my first summer in law school working for Columbia Riverkeeper, a small but incredibly active and effective environmental nonprofit.  Columbia Riverkeeper does fantastic work on behalf of the Columbia River and the communities – both human and non-human – that depend on it.  PILP helped me help Riverkeeper help the Columbia. 


And that’s exactly what I came to law school to learn how to do.


I came to Lewis & Clark because I wanted to improve my ability to be effective, and helpful -  but I wanted to keep my grasp on reality and issues I feel passionate about.  My summer experience at Riverkeeper went straight to this mission.  I got thoughtful, concrete, and constructive feedback from Riverkeeper’s Staff Attorney – which helped me improve both my writing and research skills.  I worked on a variety of issues, both legal and policy-related – from the Clean Water Act and the Washington Model Toxics Control Act to coal export politics and salmon lifecycles.  I learned new things all day every day.  I sat in on meetings with coalition partners and government agencies.  I was able to observe experienced, effective, smart and passionate attorneys in action.  And I got to eat lunch with them.  And go kayaking on the Columbia with them. 


One of the best parts of my experience at Columbia Riverkeeper was the feeling that I was part of a movement much bigger than myself – a tidal wave of people working for the health of a river ecosystem that is the lifeblood of the Pacific Northwest.  The entire organization is fueled by an enormous, infectious passion for the Columbia that invigorated me – both as a law student and as a human being.  To get to be a part of it – and to contribute to it – was an honor and a pleasure.  PILP helped me help Columbia Riverkeeper – and it helped strengthen me as I move forward trying to make a difference in the world. 


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