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July 3, 2013

Ian Adams ’13 garners fellowship with California State Assembly

University of Oregon School of Law graduate Ian Adams has found his home in public policy. Adams, who received his J.D. from Oregon Law in May, recently won a rare spot as a Jesse M. Unruh Assembly Fellow for the California State Assembly. Like the body itself, the fellowship is apportioned along partisan lines. Adams was selected for one of only six spots available to fellows in the Republican side of the assembly. Looking forward to his new role, to begin in October, Adams hopes to focus on working with members, meeting with constituents and stakeholders and generally utilizing his legal training. 

This is not the first time that Adams has worked in the Sacramento political arena. As an undergraduate at Seattle University, he interned during the summers of 2006 and 2007 at the office of former California governor Arnold Schwarzenegger. After graduating with a dual B.A. in history and philosophy in 2009, Adams worked as a legal videographer filming depositions in Seattle. He did this with the hope that he could get a sneak peek into the legal profession.

"Working as a videographer was eye-opening," said Adams. "It gave me an opportunity to discover what I was interested in, and perhaps more importantly, to learn what wasn't for me."

The following year, Adams chose Oregon Law. He came to Eugene because it offered a small law school attached to a large university, giving him the best of both academic worlds. Further, he was attracted by what he perceived to be Oregon Law's liberal atmosphere.

"I wanted to have my admittedly conservative views challenged," said Adams. "I enjoy lively discussion with classmates and professors and so I sought it out."

Adams was not disappointed. In-class discussion carved for him a recognizable place within the Oregon Law community and made him feel like he belonged. In addition to his time in class, Adams was a member of the Federalist Society and focused on performing pro bono work in the public sector. As a big Ducks fan, he also made time to tutor UO athletes in philosophy and history.

Like many students, during his law school summers he began putting his newly honed legal skills to work. Adams clerked for two summers with the Personal Insurance Federation of California, a trade association. There he was exposed to the wide range of issues that a policy professional must be familiar with.

The seminal experience of Adams' law school career took place during his third year. With the help of the faculty, he arranged to extern for the entire 2012-2013 academic year in Salem with the Oregon House of Representatives. As a legal extern he was charged with the development, formation and vetting of policy concepts.

"By allowing me to work over the course of an entire school year, I was able to cultivate relationships throughout the Capitol and really become a valued part of the Representatives' team," Adams said.

When law school came to an end, Adams knew that traditional legal work was not something he wished to pursue. Instead, the path he created at Oregon Law situated him to pursue his career of choice in public policy. Adams advises students interested in entering the realm of public policy to build relationships while they are in school and to make themselves valuable to employers. He believes getting a foot in the door by working with focus and consistency for a political candidate, a party organization or a political action committee is the best way to find employment. In Oregon, in particular, he encourages students to take advantage of living in a state with such a "uniquely accessible" government.

"It's amazing what students can do here, the extent to which they can get involved in meaningful ways," Adams said. "It was something that I never expected, and is the reason that I would recommend Oregon Law without hesitation."

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