Sunny Sidman

I am blown away by L&C’s quality of education, and I am so grateful that I chose to come here for law school.

Sunny Sidman JD '23

Degree and Class Year

JD ’23

Program Type

3-year JD (full time)


Cornelius, Oregon

Undergraduate/Graduate School(s)

Portland State University, Portland Community College

Areas of legal interest(s)

Public Defense, Civil Rights

Brief Background:

I started my college education at Portland Community College, and I eventually transferred to Portland State University after getting my associate’s degree. I had my daughter, Juniper, in my first year at Portland State and returned to school as a single mom when she was a few months old. During that time, I was doing full-time writing work to pay for school, childcare, and living expenses. I continued with my writing work after completing my undergraduate degree in community development, studied for and took the LSAT, and started at Lewis & Clark Law School in 2020, about a year after completing my undergraduate degree.

What made you decide to go to law school?

I have been telling my parents since I was eight years old that I wanted to go to law school, but there were times when it seemed like a remote possibility for me. As a single mom of a young child, law school seemed like a daunting, and sometimes impossible, prospect. My motivation has always been to have a career where I can help people, and that mission has kept me going despite the challenges that I’ve faced during my law school journey. In my first semester in law school, I had a professor who challenged me to learn. My decision to go to Lewis & Clark Law School was initially about the practicality of going to a local school. Before I started here, I had considered transferring in my second year to another school in a different part of the country that I thought would be a better fit for me, but I quickly fell in love with L&C. I was blown away by L&C’s quality of education, and I am so grateful that I chose to come here for law school.

What was the hardest thing about adjusting to law school?

The hardest thing about adjusting to law school is getting comfortable with being challenged. Law school is a mental challenge, an emotional challenge, and sometimes a physical challenge depending on how much sleep you can get at night. The scariest thing about law school for me was the unknown. Looking back, I don’t think there’s any way I could have explained to myself just what I was in for because law school is such a unique experience in so many ways. Instead of being so anxious about the unknown, the best thing I can say to prospective students is that everyone is in the same boat. Your classmates are all just as lost and confused as you are, despite how well they might be hiding it. Trust yourself, trust the process, and trust that you are here for a reason.

What do you do during the summers?

During my summers, I have had the opportunity to work at amazing public defender offices. My first summer, I did research, motion drafting, and client intake for the Office of the State Public Defender in Billings, Montana. My second summer, I worked at Lane County Public Defender Services as a certified law student representing clients in court at various hearings, conducting legal research, and drafting motions with the court on behalf of clients. These work experiences cemented my desire to be a public defender and helped me feel more confident that I was capable of doing legal work well.

What externships/clinics have you participated in and what was your favorite part of the experience?

I have had some great work and externship experiences outside of my summer jobs, including working as a judicial extern for Judge David Roghair in Utqiaġvik, Alaska; as a law clerk with the Oregon Department of Justice Child Advocacy Section; and as a certified law student with Harris Velázquez Gibbens Law Firm. I was also fortunate enough to be selected for the Criminal Justice Reform Clinic (CJRC), where I work on the parole project. The opportunity to work with CJRC is something I had wanted to do since I decided to go to Lewis & Clark, and the experience has been incredible for my development as a student and future lawyer. Working directly with a client in preparation for a parole hearing is a unique experience that has helped me develop the skills I need for my career after law school.

Do you have any other comments you would like to share?

Law school is a huge undertaking for anyone, but it can be even more intimidating for people who have children and family responsibilities. I hope that my experience can demonstrate to other people that it is possible to complete law school as a parent. Even though it can be challenging at times, the opportunity to pursue my dream of becoming a lawyer is great. I can show my daughter that she is capable of achieving her goals, no matter how difficult they may seem.

Criminal Law and Justice Criminal Justice Reform Clinic