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September 15, 2009

OLSPIF Stipend Recipients Reflect on Summer Experiences

In May 2009 the Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund (“OLSPIF”) announced the names of its 2009 summer stipend recipients. OLSPIF awards $3,000 stipends annually to qualified students who accept public interest positions that otherwise would be unpaid.

“The OLSPIF stipend is the sole reason I was able to participate in this amazing experience and I will be eternally grateful,” remarked third-year student Lindsay Day.

Day spent her summer working with the Lane County Legal Aid and Advocacy Center where she had a caseload of approximately 15 clients whom she represented throughout the entire process. She also participated in the center’s Outreach Program where she and others drove to Florence, Oakridge, and Cottage Grove to provide intake services for people who may not have been able to afford, or were physically unable, to travel to Eugene.

“Helping real people and seeing the result,” is what Day said was the most meaningful part of her work this summer. “Applying the knowledge I learned in law school to taking on real cases; it was the best experience you can get prior to graduating from law school. I will take what I learned this summer and use it the rest of my life.”

Day’s fellow stipend recipients echo this same sentiment regarding their summer positions.

“I was surprised at how much trust was placed in me from the beginning,” third-year Kathryn Peters recalled. “I learned so much about the law by interacting with clients and other attorneys over a few short months.”

Peters also worked for the Lane County Legal Aid and Advocacy Center, said she enjoyed knowing that the work she was doing really mattered to her clients and helped them deal with very difficult and stressful situations.

Dave Kim, a second-year student who worked for the San Bernardino, California District Attorney’s Office, is thankful that he had the opportunity to see many of the “intangible” aspects of life as a district attorney. “The stuff that you can’t learn from a textbook,” he said.

Although third-year Becky Bateman’s experience at the Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office in Chicago opened her eyes to the unpleasant side of human actions, it nevertheless solidified her decision to become a prosecutor.

“Working with the Cook County State’’s Attorney’’s Office helped me to realize how important the criminal justice system is to society and how much I want to be a part of it,” Bateman said. “The OLSPIF stipend is a gift that I will not soon forget and which I plan to one day help return to future University of Oregon Law students.”

“I was given the opportunity to do real work on real issues,” explained Naomi Rowden, a third-year law and Conflict and Dispute Resolution master’s student, who worked at the Crag Law Center in Portland. “The OLSPIF stipend made my entire summer possible. It was amazing.”

Rowden’s work focused on public interest environmental law. She worked with an attorney representing native Alaskan government and community organizations to ensure that oil and gas drilling proposed in traditional hunting and whaling grounds did not have a negative impact on the animals or on the people who continue to hunt as they always have.

Second-year student Emily Marrer who worked with Portland’s Juvenile Rights Project said working one-on-one with attorneys, face-to-face client contact, and observing the pros and cons of the justice system at work were the most beneficial parts of her summer internship.

“I’m very interested in juvenile law and I wanted to have a hands-on experience working on a variety of projects while being able to get practical experience by going to court, home visits, and meeting clients firsthand,” Marrer remarked.

Marrer got everything she wanted out of her summer work and says her time with the Juvenile Rights Project reaffirmed her decision to attend law school and practice juvenile law.

“When I entered law school I did not want to litigate in front of a court,” Marrer said. “After this summer I can’t wait to represent juvenile clients and their parents in court.”

Second-year student Alexandra Kamel, who worked for the U.S. Department of Justice Natural Resource Division, said her summer experience renewed her faith in the law as a vehicle to accomplish good things.

“I know I want to do public interest work, but I think the mindset, especially in law school, is a lot about making money and it’s easy to get discouraged,” Kamel noted. “OLSPIF shows that the original purpose of law — to work for justice and for a cause ’“ is possible and continues to be supported in the legal community.

2009 OLSPIF Summer Stipend Recipients:

Rebecca Bateman: Cook County State’s Attorney’s Office, Felony Trial Division

Lindsay Day: Lane County Legal Aid and Advocacy Center

Amanda Husted: San Francisco Office of the Public Defender, Juvenile Division

Holly Jacobsen: California District Attorneys Association, Environmental Prosecutions

Alexandra Kamel: U.S. Department of Justice Natural Resources Division

Dave Kim: San Bernardino County District Attorney’s Office

Kerry Lewiecki: Disability Law Center

Emily Marrer: Juvenile Rights Project

Kathryn Peters: Lane County Legal Aid and Advocacy Center

Jeremy Pyle: Oregon Department of Justice, Environmental Enforcement

Naomi Rowden: Crag Law Center

Daniel Wayne: Supportive Parents Information Network

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