Coronavirus Information and Update: Spring 2021 Plans

June 27, 2019

Chloe Johnson

Metropolitan Public Defender
Portland, Oregon

This summer I worked with the Community Law Division at MPD. I had the opportunity to work with several lawyers on diverse types of law; however, the most rewarding aspect was getting involved in Community Law’s holistic approach to criminal defense.


Often criminal defense is narrowly limited to the immediate criminal issue without assessing the life factors influencing the criminal behaviors or the consequences of life after the imminent resolution. Community Law works with people in as many legal aspects of their life as possible, including housing, expungements, and employment. They even hold events like legal service day where people can use the community service they have done to waive fines and fees at the courthouse.  It was beneficial to see how lawyers in the legal community can reach out and work together to support a common goal. These experiences have helped me to understand that connecting with other lawyers and asking for help is essential to being a successful attorney.


My experience working with the clients at MPD has given me a broader view of the criminal justice system and those who are involved in it. Working with clients required taking an in depth, first-hand look at what is happening to individuals in the criminal justice system. These interactions helped me to understand that real change often requires looking at the bigger picture and not just the immediate issue. I believe that a transition into a holistic defense will affect the justice system and society on a large scale because it involves more than addressing the crime, but helping a person through the societal issues that contributed to the crime.