The PILP stipend I received this past summer allowed me to spend 10 weeks clerking with Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO) in the Portland regional office. It was a goal of mine when I entered law school to volunteer with Legal Aid because of the important work that they do for low-income populations. LASO’s mission is to achieve justice for the underserved communities of Oregon by providing the highest quality civil legal services to clients unable to afford private attorneys.
I had the privilege of working under attorneys who specialized in many different areas of law, including housing, public benefits, family law, and employment law. My clerkship at LASO exposed me to the daily operations of a law office, from client intake to case meetings where staff attorneys reviewed potential cases. The attorneys at LASO gave me diverse and interesting assignments which helped me to strengthen my research and writing skills. One of my most interesting projects focused on potential due process violations through the use of inaccurate databases determining public benefits assistance to various immigrant populations.
As a certified law student, I was able to represent victims of domestic violence at contested restraining order hearings. It was one of the most practical and thrilling experiences of my law school career. The two clients I represented were both in very vulnerable situations and needed the support of advocates in order to face their abusers in court. It provided me the opportunity to strengthen my oral advocacy skills in a learning environment where I was given constructive feedback by my LASO supervising attorney. It was a great experience for me and it was empowering to see my clients assert their rights in court, and gain the ability to rebuild their lives after such traumatic events.
My summer at LASO has better prepared me to fight poverty law issues in my future practice as a legal advocate. PILP gave me the opportunity to have this invaluable experience that I will always remember as one the most vital parts of my legal education.