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March 18, 2014

Oregon Law’s growing footprint in Alaska

Beginning in the fall, six Oregon Law graduates will move to varying locations in Alaska to continue their professional development in the legal field. Five students will work as trial court clerks and one will work as a Court of Appeals clerk. Alaska’s law community is currently flourishing, and the state draws its lawyers from law schools beyond it borders. This provides an abundance of valuable opportunities for out-of-state students to participate in externships, internships, and clerkships.

Anchorage_AK_MediumOregon Law grad Brian Reikkola ’13 currently is completing a clerkship in Reno, Nev.; he will then move to Anchorage, Alaska, to work as a trial court clerk. The other four trial court clerks will graduate this year. Adam Walters also will be based in Anchorage, Seth Bichler will work in Bethel, Linda Bruce in Juneau, and Lauren Johansen in Ketchikan. Amanda Rogerson also will work in Anchorage, but with the Court of Appeals.

“What’s great about this clerkship is that the clerks do a lot of research and writing as well as spend time in the Courtroom building their knowledge of civil procedure and effective oral advocacy,” said Bonnie Williams from the Oregon Law Career Center. “It’s an outstanding experience to gain to a broad range of practical skills and to build their courtroom skills.”

In addition to the outstanding research and writing experience they will gain, the clerks will gain experience managing a judge’s courtroom, drafting opinions and documents, as well as helping personally inform the judge of relevant opinions and legal research.

“The professionalism required of court clerks will be great preparation for a future as an attorney but could also prepare me for a wide variety of paths,” said Bichler. “I am looking forward to getting to see what real people are going through in our criminal justice system.”

In previous years, there have been about two or three UO students working in Alaska completing clerkships such as these. Oregon Law’s presence in Alaska has been steadily growing, with this year being its strongest yet. Williams described this year’s students as “a great fit for the opportunity.” A couple other Pacific Northwest law schools have also recognized the opportunities that the state of Alaska presents; yet they focus mainly on the Anchorage area. Oregon Law sets itself apart by reaching throughout the state to make an impact in a diverse set of locations.

Oregon Law regularly connects students to opportunities such as this one. “I don’t know that I would have actually gone through the process of applying so early in my 3L year without her encouragement and guidance,” said Bichler of the Career Center’s Williams. “She took the extra step of contacting Oregon Law alums who are already clerks and judges in Alaska.”

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