Alysha Van Zante
This past summer I had the honor of being a law clerk at the Oregon Law Center. The Oregon Law Center (OLC) is the unrestricted counterpart to Legal Aid Services of Oregon. OLC’s mission is to achieve justice for low-income communities in Oregon by providing a wide range of top quality civil legal services. OLC specializes in migrant farmworker rights, employment law, gender-based violence litigation, public benefits law, heath law, housing and homeless rights. The Oregon Law Center consists of ten offices throughout Oregon, bolstered by the State Support Unit office in Portland. The State Support Unit provides attorney training, counsel on large cases, and oversees case management with the goal of increasing the quantity and quality of legal aid services available through OLC’s community offices.
As a law clerk in the State Support Unit, I was able to work on a wide variety of projects. I produced memoranda regarding workers’ compensation, bankruptcy and offers of judgment. Alongside staff attorneys, I researched and discussed broader policy issues like eviction defense, disparate impact of lending practices and homelessness in the Portland area. My work also included interviewing potential clients, meeting with state agencies to discuss public benefits and attending relevant CLEs. As a law clerk I was afforded many opportunities for professional development and exploration of the legal field. Our office traveled to the Oregon Supreme Court to witness oral argument. On multiple occasions we visited the Multnomah County Courthouse to witness contested restraining order hearings and observe OLC staff attorneys. As an office, we attended several networking events, trainings and case management meetings in order to connect with others in the field.
My time at the Oregon Law Center was enjoyable, educational and fulfilling. OLC is working towards solutions for many of the difficult challenges low-income Oregonians face. It was an honor to work alongside such dedicated and talented attorneys. I now know more about legal research, writing and advocacy. I gained experience in litigation strategy, legal reasoning and civil procedure. My clerkship was an asset to my legal career and I would highly recommend this position to any interested student. I enjoyed my time at OLC and look forward to a career dedicated to the public interest.
Last but not least, I am incredibly grateful to the Public Interest Law Project (PILP) for funding my clerkship experience. Without a PILP stipend, I would not have been able to participate in this clerkship. PILP gave me the financial freedom to support the public interest, gain valuable legal skills and pursue my passions. I know that I will be a better advocate and attorney because of this experience, which was made possible through PILP. Thank you.