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Public Interest Law Project

Amber Cognata

October 09, 2019

  • Amber Cognata

Pioneer Courthouse Square

This summer I worked as a law clerk for the Oregon Law Center with the State Support Unit. As a law clerk I assisted with civil legal cases from all around Oregon in various areas of law. My focus was immigration law, civil rights law, and employment law, however I also worked on a family law case that is headed to the Oregon Supreme Court next year. I did extensive research on several topics, including probable cause, void for vagueness, and class action lawsuits. Working with such an amazing team of lawyers and getting feedback on my writing was a major highlight of my summer.

             Another highlight was getting to see those lawyers in action. During my summer internship I was able to sit in on my supervising attorney’s appellate hearing at the Pioneer Courthouse. I also attended a trial at the Multnomah County Courthouse which help solidify some of the topics I was studying in Evidence over the summer. Although none of the attorneys at Oregon Law Center argued at the Oregon Supreme Court during my internship, we did get to go to Salem and witness a hearing in front of the Oregon Supreme Court. After the hearing, we were able to meet Chief Justice Martha Walters and ask her a few questions about her life and what it is like to be on the Oregon Supreme Court.

I really enjoyed the clinics that Oregon Law Center holds at the coastal towns they help serve, including Astoria and Tillamook. During the clinic I helped interview some clients with assistance from another law clerk and a supervising attorney. It was encouraging to meet some of the people that we were working so hard for back in the office.

 Receiving the PILP scholarship relieved a huge burden from my shoulders this summer. I was able to work at an amazing nonprofit and learn from incredible attorneys without stressing as much about where my funding was coming from. Had it not been for this scholarship I would have had to take out more student loans or I would have had to find another job and work during the weekends. Because I received the scholarship I was able to relax and enjoy a few weeks off before I started my internship. I was also able to take Evidence during the summer and am now ahead in preparation for my 3L year. I am so grateful that there are funds available for students who are passionate about doing public interest work and who want to make a difference in the community. My desire to help those in the legal system who otherwise could not afford it has grown thanks to my internship at OLC which I was able to accept due to the PILP scholarship.

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