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Public Interest Law Project

Francie Graham

June 01, 2010

Legal Aid Services of Oregon

Legal Aid Services of Oregon, Portland, OR

One of the experiences that drew me to law school was serving low-income families as child support case manager at Oregon’s Department of Justice. As I watched parents struggle to navigate the legal system on their own, I wished I could take a more active role as an advocate. Clerking this summer at LASO, an organization that provides a wide variety of civil legal services to people living in poverty, was a perfect fit for me. LASO and the Oregon Law Center (OLC) serve over 20,000 clients each year, but the demand for services far outweighs the supply—over 80% of the civil legal needs of the poor go unmet despite LASO and OLC’s tireless efforts—so summer law clerks provide critical support to LASO attorneys and clients.

Clerking for LASO was a fabulous experience. I refined my research and writing skills and got hands-on experience in many different practice areas—I researched and wrote memos on housing, family law, public benefits, and consumer law issues; interviewed domestic violence survivors and connected them with volunteer attorneys; tracked foreclosure-related evictions; and answered questions from parents on the child support hotline. I observed trial court dockets, moot court oral argument preparation, and oral arguments at the Oregon Court of Appeals. I was also surrounded by an incredible community of supportive attorneys whose example strengthens my commitment to poverty law.

I am so grateful to PILP for giving me the opportunity to learn and serve my community at LASO. The stipend gave me a chance to provide direct, tangible services to the most vulnerable members of our community—a chance I would never have had without the generous support of PILP. Thank you!

 

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