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August 20, 2015

Matthew Steven

Federal Public Defender’s Office, Portland, OR

I helped get an innocent man out of jail this summer when I discovered a flaw in the case against him; he could not possibly have done what he was accused of. Thanks to PILP, I was able to be at my best every day. I didn’t have to work an additional job to keep the lights on and show up groggy and half awake to work my shift in the Federal Public Defender’s office. I was able to rest adequately, work hard, and reach out beyond my own circle of needs. I was able to both directly and indirectly help many people in extremely difficult situations.

I worked closely with attorneys, investigators, and most importantly my fellow law clerks to prepare motions for the court, and gained tremendous insight into the trade of criminal defense. My experiences ranged from research and writing to investigation and trial preparation. I’ve also made friends and contacts who will be valuable friends and mentors in what I hope will be a long and successful career in criminal law. The experienced upper division clerks at Federal Public Defender patiently trained me to meet the demanding standards of that office, and the hands-on experience I received will make me a much better lawyer when I emerge into practice.

PILP doesn’t just benefit law students, it benefits the entire community. Having additional unpaid and skilled hands on board helps public interest organizations operate far more efficiently, so that more justice can be done. Adequate justice costs time and money, and both are routinely denied to indigent defendants in this country. I am grateful to have received this stipend from PILP which permitted me to have an immensely satisfying summer working for people who couldn’t otherwise afford legal representation.