June 01, 2013

Elizabeth Hilliard

Federal Public Defender, Portland, OR

This summer I had the amazing opportunity to clerk at the Federal Public Defender’s Office in Portland, Oregon (FPD).  The PILP stipend I received allowed me to work full-time and truly get the most out of my experience. At FPD, I had the privilege of meeting and working with incredibly intelligent, passionate and devoted people. Defense work can seem daunting to even the most motivate_d of attorneys, so it was uplifting to work with people who truly love what they are doing when they come to work every day. As a clerk, I worked on several different research and writing assignments, and I was able to work with multiple attorneys in the office and experience a wide variety of writing, working and thinking styles. The FPD employed nine other clerks this summer so I had the opportunity to work through tough assignments with bright and talented fellow law students as well. 

Aside from the benefits of being surrounded by talented and hard-working individuals, I gained a wealth of knowledge about my own work methodologies and capabilities. I was assigned a tricky motion my first day on the job and felt unsure about my ability to perform well on such an intimidating task. My boss, however, expressed the utmost confidence in me from my first question to the last cite check. She allowed me to fumble around and learn a lot on my own, but offered support and assistance when I was really stuck. It was so rewarding to finish and know that my hard-work could help our client. Things in federal court move pretty slowly so I don’t yet know what the outcome of my first project is, but I know that the tenacity it taught me will stick!