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Crime Victim Litigation Clinic

The Crime Victim Litigation Clinic (CVLC) supports attorneys representing crime victims in criminal cases nationwide through legal research and writing. Students also help write amicus curiae briefs that are filed in trial and appellate courts and contribute to legal publications on emerging issues in victim law.

Alumna Profile

Melanie Kebler ’08Melanie Kebler ’08 Credit: Kevin KubotaMelanie Kebler ’08

Senior Staff Attorney, Oregon Crime Victims Law Center
When did you work in the clinic? What did you do?

In 2007–08. I learned about crime victims’ rights and worked on amicus briefs that were later filed in court cases in other states.

IMPACT
This year, two CVLC students researched and assisted in drafting arguments to inform an appellate brief filed in Arizona on behalf of a crime victim who suffered severe injuries from a dog attack. Previously, an Arizona trial court had ordered $0 in restitution, relying on a limited civil settlement to find the victim had been made whole. On August 10, 2018, the Arizona appellate court ruled in favor of the crime victim.
What work are you doing now?

I have just opened the Oregon Crime Victims Law Center’s new satellite office in Bend. We serve crime victims around the state by helping them to assert, enforce, and remedy violations of their rights as crime victims. For about five years now I have been doing the work I first learned was possible in the clinic.

What parts of your clinic experience helped prepare you for your career?

It really opened my eyes to an area of law that I frankly had not known existed. It solidified my willingness to work in the criminal justice system after passing the bar exam. At my first job at the Lincoln County District Attorney’s Office, I specialized in working with domestic violence and sexual assault victims. The clinic was excellent preparation in making sure I did my job while upholding all victims’ rights in my cases. My practice today is different from the substantive work at the clinics, but the skills I gained there help me better represent my organization. For example, at the clinic I learned to communicate complex legal concepts to clients who often did not have a legal background. Today, I work in a very technical industry and must routinely speak on complex topics in an understandable and persuasive manner.

A memorable moment?

I conducted research for a brief and submitted a page or two on that research. In the final draft, my work was reduced to one footnote! Now I laugh because legal research takes many different directions and in the end it’s important to drill down to the most crucial points. It was a good lesson.

How do you view the clinic now?

The clinic helped me see the connection between the classroom and lawyering. Even for attorneys, the legal system is complex. Imagine how disorienting it may be for someone first encountering it, possibly under the stress of an eviction notice or a divorce. After my first call for the resource hotline at National Crime Victim Litigation Institute (NCVLI), I understood why I was in law school: to be a compass for my client as they navigate a complex system. Meg Garvin has been a great mentor and her leadership at the NCVLI is stellar. We have a nationally renowned organization leading the way in this area of law right here at Lewis & Clark!

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