Over the summer, I spent my time working with the state support unit for Oregon Law Center (OLC), an unrestricted legal aid services organization that serves low-income communities throughout the state. During my time there, I was able to work on a variety of projects, including the landlord lawsuit challenging Portland’s relocation assistance ordinance; civil rights cases involving police officers harassing citizens; and the ongoing NORCOR case involving a state-funded jail that detains undocumented folks for ICE, which may have an enormous impact on the breadth of Oregon’s “sanctuary” statute. While writing numerous memoranda to support the NORCOR trial in the Dalles, I was also able to attend the hearings that put my work into practice. One of the most rewarding moments was seeing some of my arguments help to ultimately defeat a motion for bifurcation brought by opposing counsel. On top of all of that, I was able to have client contact through the domestic violence project organized by Legal Aid Services of Oregon, which helped serve as an anchor for me to the primarily research and writing-focused work I completed while at OLC.
Furthermore, working alongside seasoned attorneys helped me hone my professional skills and reaffirm exactly why I came to law school in the first place: to help those most affected by a system that was built on oppression. Although poverty and white-supremacy are deeply ingrained, systemic issues, it was rewarding and fulfilling beyond belief to be able to act as one of the few lines of defense for those that live and experience the full force of these systems every single day. If, at the end of the day, one less person was put on the street by a greedy landlord; one less person lost their job due to an employer’s reaction to whistleblowing or unionizing employees; one less person was put in a cage over nothing more than being born on another piece of land outside of the invisible boundaries we call the United States, then I can say that I did something that changed the world, even if it were just one person.