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April 30, 2014

Oregon Law among best in public interest

The University of Oregon School of Law recently was ranked 13th in The National Jurist magazine's top law schools in the country for Public Interest Law. The rankings weight schools in three categories: (1) curriculum, clinical opportunities, and faculty; (2) cost of legal education including, tuition, debt, and loan repayment options; and (3) the percentage of graduates who work in public interest and public service.

Oregon Law's tradition and commitment to serving the public is exemplified through its students who are passionately engaged in public service and its graduates who accept public service employment at rates that far exceed the national average. Oregon Law’s rich public service offerings give service-focused students unparalleled opportunity to participate in public service. Such offerings include clinics and externships, school-wide public community service events, internationally attended conferences, high profile visiting speakers, specialized centers of excellence and public service concentrations.

Oregon Law recently established the Public Law and Policy program in which students are exposed to courses, clinics, career planning and service opportunities that prepare them for success. Led by Professor Stuart Chinn and Associate Director for Public Service Initiatives Jane Steckbeck, the program builds on Oregon Law's already strong commitment and rich history of public service. The program offers students the chance to earn statements of completion in either Public Interest Law or Law & Public Policy. The program will look to build upon, and expand, present opportunities to earn concurrent degrees in Law and Public Administration (J.D./M.P.A.) and Law and Community and Regional Planning (J.D./M.C.R.P.).

The Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund (OLSPIF) is a non-profit run by and for the students of Oregon Law. Through fundraising, OLSPIF awards $4,000 stipends to qualified students who accept public interest positions that otherwise would be unpaid. By doing so, students can support the greater community through legal representation.

Oregon Law also offers a Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP), which advocates on behalf of graduates who engaged in public interest careers. LRAP recipients improve access to justice through their work with legal aid clients, migrant farm workers, in national and international human rights organizations, as environmental attorneys, tribal attorneys and more.

The Center for Career Planning and Professional Development also offers students access to Public Service Career Counselors, sponsors public service career programs, and maintains comprehensive on-line and library resources to facilitate public service job searches. Oregon Law encourages its students to participate in programs and externships that offer hands-on experience in public service.

In addition to Public Interest Public Service (PIPS) student group, other Oregon Law student groups and centers — the Environment and Natural Resources Law Center, Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics, Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center, and Child Advocacy Program — each involve students in public service projects and activities.

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