Through the generosity of Lewis and Clark’s Public Interest Law Project, I was able to spend my summer as a law clerk at St. Andrew Legal Clinic (SALC), in Hillsboro, Oregon. SALC provides representation to low income individuals and families in domestic relations cases.
Through my internship, I saw the immense need for legal representation in domestic relations cases. In approximately 80% of family law cases the parties are pro se because they do not have the means to hire an attorney. While it is common for a client dealing with divorce or custody issues to feel as though they are in a vulnerable position, this vulnerability is compounded for the clients that come to SALC because of financial insecurity, housing instability, domestic abuse, and language barriers.
At SALC, I worked on a variety of legal issues including divorce, child custody and support, spousal support, parenting time, adoption, guardianship, and protective orders. I gained practical legal skills working with clients, conducting legal research, and drafting petitions, motions and trial memos. I also learned a great deal by attending settlement conferences and observing trials.
By far, the most exciting experience I had this summer was getting to first-chair a contested restraining order hearing. I was given the opportunity to build a strategy, formulate witness questions, prepare our client for trial, and present the case. My supervising attorney gave me excellent feedback and encouragement throughout the process and ultimately, the restraining order was upheld for our client.
My experience working for SALC opened my eyes to the vital role of attorneys advocating for individuals who would otherwise lack any legal representation. I loved working for St. Andrew, and am grateful to PILP for making this experience possible for me.