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Nargess Shadbeh ‘85 Awarded the 2020 PILP Amburgey Award

January 10, 2020

Nargess Shadbeh, a 1985 graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School was announced as the recipient for the 2020 Public Interest Law Project’s Amburgey Award.

The Amburgey Award was established in 2011 to recognize Lewis & Clark Law School graduates who demonstrate a long-term and loyal commitment to the public interest law program at the school. Shadbeh has been awarded the Amburgey Award for her dedication to encouraging farmworkers, students and new lawyers in public interest law throughout her career

Shadbeh is currently the Director for the Farmworker Program at the Oregon Law Center, but she has long felt a passion for farmworkers’ rights. In the early 1970’s Shadbeh flew alone from Tehran to Portland at the young age of 12. She lived on a farm in East Multnomah County as a young immigrant. She saw first hand the struggles of farmworker families in the Willamette Valley as she worked summer jobs in the fields and nurseries. She felt a kinship for the farmworkers as they reminded her of the Iranian farmworkers from her childhood and felt an “inflamed passion” for the wrongfulness of the farmworkers’ situations. 

Shadbeh’s dedication to advocating for the inadequacies she saw with farmworkers’ rights led her to pursue a legal career, largely guided by her professors at Lewis & Clark College and the Law School, including Don Balmer and Susan Mandiberg. Today, Shadbeh works to improve the conditions for farmworkers through litigation and advocacy, directly involving her clients in every step of the process.

Shadbeh has helped train many new lawyers and has worked with law students from all three Oregon law schools on many projects, including: successfully arguing for the construction of affordable farmworker housing within cities in the early 1990s; advocating for better labor housing standards; and working to reduce exposure to pesticides by advocating for stronger regulations. 

The Amburgey Award will be presented to Shadbeh at the 2020 PILP Auction.

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