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Certificate in Public Interest Law

This page describes the requirements to obtain a certificate in Public Interest Law and provides links to the documents that must be submitted to the Registrar’s Office by February 1st for a May graduation date or October 31st for a January graduation date.

Please also visit the Public Interest Law program page for general information about Public Interest Law at Lewis & Clark Law School.

Documents:

Application

Paper Requirement 

Certificate in Public Interest Law

Public interest law encompasses many different substantive areas, and is not confined to any single political ideology. It is the practice of law on behalf of individuals and organizations not typically served by the for-profit-bar. For this certificate, public interest law includes work for civil legal services organizations, nonprofit organizations, governĀ­ment agencies, and other similar entities to advance concepts of justice, fairness, and the well-being of the general public.

Overview

Students qualify for a certificate by satisfying six requirements

  • 3 Level One courses: students must take all three
  • 3 Level Two courses: students choose from a wide variety of courses
  • 5 Level Three credits: students choose from various applied skills courses
  • Paper: “Capstone” paper focused on public interest law
  • GPA: at least a 2.7 grade point average in courses used to qualify for Certificate
  • Pro bono work: at least 50 hours of pro bono work, as defined below

Other considerations

  • Topical focus: Students can earn a Certificate notation of a topical focus
  • Only one animal, criminal, or environmental law course may be used for this Certificate

Certificate Requirements and Restrictions

A.  Course Requirements

To obtain the certificate, a student must fulfill the following course requirements:

Level One

All of the following courses:

100 Administrative Law

207 Constitutional Law II

122 Evidence

Level Two

Three (3) of the following courses. You may take all 3 courses from one topical area, or you may take a mixture from multiple topical areas. 

NOTE:  courses used for any other certificate will not count for this requirement

Miscellaneous

356 Federal Courts

275 Law in Spanish

402 Oregon Local Government Law

591 Veterans Law and Policy

501 Nonprofit Law

Civil Rights

317 Civil Rights Litigation

314 Comparative Constitutional Law

342 Environmental Justice

482 Law and Religion

478 Legal Regulation of the Political Process

926 Native American Indian Civil Rights

558 Race and the Law

424 Sexual Orientation & Gender Identity

Consumer Law

116 Bankruptcy & Debtor/Creditor

326 Consumer Protection Litigation

108 Secured Transactions

Family and Juvenile Law

564 Children and the Law

327 Contemporary Issues in Family Law

124 Family Law

506 Family Mediation

373 Juvenile Justice

452 Law and Education

Health, Disability, and Aging

335 Elder Law

560 Health Law & Policy

Indian Law

354 Federal Indian Law

353 Federal Indian Law in the Current Era

518 Native American Natural Resources Law

International Law and Immigration

364 Immigration Law

461 International Criminal Law

580 International Human Rights

138 Public International Law

465 Transformative Immigration Law

589 Unrepresented Nations and Peoples

Labor and Employment

338 Employment Discrimination

131 Employment Law I

377 Labor Law

572 Law of Global Labor Markets

440 Workers’ Compensation

 

Environmental, criminal, and animal law courses: see special provisions below

 

Level Three

Five (5) Credits of the following courses.

NOTE:  courses used for another certificate will not count for this requirement

NOTE:  no more than four (4) credits for Level Three can come from a single course, except that year-long two-semester clinics count as two courses for purposes of this requirement, which means that a two-semester clinic fulfills the Level Three requirement.

598 Advanced Legal Research

212 Advanced Legal Writing

214 Advanced Legal Writing: Litigation

450 Alternative Dispute Resolution

784 Environmental Justice/Civil Rights: Practicum

514 Mediation/Negotiation Skills

724 Moot Court: Client Counseling

726 Moot Court: Jessup International Law Competition

728 Moot Court: Mock Trial

736 Moot Court: NALSA

134/135 Oregon Pleading and Practice

792 Small Business Legal Clinic

708/709 Street Law

704 Tax Clinic

430 Trial Advocacy

Externship - must be a Public Service or Non-Profit Externship. Only (3) three academic externship credits can count towards the certificate. Externship credits used for another certificate cannot count towards this certificate. You must get prior approval from the administrator for the Externship Program and the Executive Director of Public Interest Law

 

Environmental, criminal, and animal law courses: see special provisions below

 

Topical Focus for Certificate

Students earn a Certificate notation of a topical focus by:

  • taking 3 courses from a single Level Two category, or
  • taking 2 courses from a single Level Two category and fulfilling the paper requirement with a paper in the focus area written independently of the two focus courses.

Courses Not Otherwise Listed

Course credit may be allowed, in the discretion of the Public Interest Committee, for one course not otherwise listed in the Certificate Description. To request that an unlisted course apply, petition the Associate Dean for Student Affairs or the Associate Dean of Faculty by providing a statement of how the course is substantially relevant to public interest law or how it may be relevant to your particular public interest focus. The petition should be submitted while the student is enrolled in the course; students petitioning after the course has ended may have difficulty with documentation.

Transfer Credits

Course credit may be allowed and applied to a topical focus, in the discretion of the Public Interest Committee, for one transfer course, of up to three (3) units of credit, taken at another law school. While the credit earned at another law school may be applicable to the certificate, the grade earned will not apply to the GPA for the certificate. Using transfer credit also fills the allowance for an unlisted course. Note that students may also transfer pro bono hours.

Special Provisions Regarding Environmental, Criminal, and Animal Law Courses

In addition to the courses listed for Level Two and Level Three, students may take one (1) course from the following list toward either the Level Two or the Level Three requirement. Note, however, that the courses on this list may be used for only one certificate.

Environmental, Criminal, and Animal Law Courses that may count toward Level Two:

449 Animal Law Fundamentals

 

Environmental, Criminal, and Animal Law Courses that may count toward Level Three:

790 Advanced Animal Law Clinic

788/789 Animal Law Clinic (I & II)

785 Animal Law Legislation: Practicum

756 Crime Victim Litigation Clinic (National Crime Victim Law Institute)

757/758 Criminal Justice Reform Clinic ( I & II )

 

750/751 Environmental Clinic: Earthrise (I & II)

753 Environmental Enforcement: Practicum

594 Environmental Law Advocacy

742 Environmental/Natural Resources: Practicum

754/755 International Environmental Law Project (I & II)

786 Natural Resources Litigation/Western Resources Legal Center: Practicum

430 Trial Advocacy

 

B. Paper Requirement

To obtain the certificate, a student must complete a paper that satisfies the requirements for a “Capstone” paper and that concerns one or more topics focusing on public interest law.

NOTE: The student must meet the Capstone criteria for this paper but does not need to use the paper to fulfill the Capstone writing requirement.

NOTE: a paper used for any other certificate will not count for this requirement

Students should plan ahead in determining how to meet the writing requirement. The student has the burden of ensuring that the paper topic and scope meet the Certificate requirements. If there is any doubt, the student should consult with the supervising faculty member and, if necessary, the Associate Dean of Faculty.

C.  Grade Point Requirement

To obtain the Certificate, a student must maintain a grade point average of B minus (2.70) or better in courses taken and selected as qualifying for the Certificate.

D.  Pro Bono Requirement

To obtain the Certificate, a student must perform 50 hours of pro bono work (legal volunteer work done without pay or school credit) before they graduate. Pro Bono work can be completed during the school year or during the summer. Pro Bono hours MUST be reported to the CPDC Program Assistant and are subject to verification.

For the Public Interest Certificate, pro bono work means:

•    Assisting public service organizations in work directly related to the delivery of legal services to indigent individuals; or

•    Assisting attorneys employed by organizations, to which donations qualify as deductions under state or federal tax laws (typically 501(c)(3)’s); or

•    Law-related work for federal, state, or local government, including government agencies, courts, and judges but not including law enforcement; or

•    Assisting attorneys directly related to the delivery of legal services to indigent individuals or nonprofits, where the retainer agreement specifies the attorney or attorneys are performing the work pro bono; and

•    The student receives no remuneration of any kind, either monetary or for credit. Work performed by a student under a stipend, partial stipend, externship, or work-study is NOT eligible under the Program. Hours volunteered for an organization after a stipend has been used, after full Clinic hours have been completed, and after an externship ends DO count as pro bono. Volunteer work for on-campus organizations (e.g., PILP, EJA, etc) does NOT qualify as pro bono.

Students should plan ahead in determining (1) how to meet the pro bono requirement and (2) whether their pro bono work meets the Certificate requirements. If there is any doubt, the student should consult with the Associate Dean for Student Affairs or the Associate Dean of Faculty.