In Jan. 2013, University of Oregon School of Law student Will Johnson will begin an 11-week externship with the Center for Justice and Accountability (CJA). The CJA is an international human rights organization that works to bring perpetrators of mass human rights abuses to justice and litigates on behalf of victims in both U.S. and international courts.
“The work that CJA does sends a powerful message to those who think they can torture and murder people abroad and then live under the protection of U.S. laws,” said Johnson “In my opinion, that is the worst type of abuse of power.”
Johnson first became interested in working for CJA during 2011 when he worked with a previous CJA client, Professor Carlos Mauricio, who was doing anti-impunity and other human rights work in El Salvador. He became further interested in international human rights law when Dr. Almudena Bernabeu, an attorney for CJA, visited Oregon Law in spring 2012 to give a lecture called "Fighting Impunity in National Courts: Human Rights and Transitional Justice in Latin America." Dr. Bernabeu returned to UO in October of this year to participate alongside Johnson in the ORIL Symposium titled “War and Memory: Bearing Witness to Loss in Everyday Life.”
“There are many reasons I want to work with CJA, but to put it simply, they provide a unique opportunity for me to pursue my international interests while getting serious legal experience with U.S. litigation,” Johnson said. “I think that this externship will benefit me whether I choose to pursue a career in international law or change paths and practice in the U.S.”
During his externship, Johnson will have the opportunity to gain first-hand litigation experience by assisting CJA staff attorneys with cases that fall under the Alien Tort Statute and Torture Victim Protection Act. He will also be responsible for case investigation, litigation and advocacy. All externship efforts will support CJA’s mission to encourage prosecution of human rights abusers.
Johnson cites the international law faculty at Oregon Law as influential in his professional and academic quest for experience.
“They (Oregon Law faculty) have all consistently encouraged me to pursue the unique legal and other opportunities that I've been passionate about, and have offered support for every project I've pursued,” said Johnson. “Specifically, Professor Michelle McKinley has been invaluable to me.”
Beginning its second year, the University of Oregon School of Law’s Nonprofit Clinic is currently accepting applications from non-profits interested in participating in this interdisciplinary program. The Nonprofit Clinic is free of charge. According to Clinic Director Carrie Heltzel, the clinic provides a mutually beneficial opportunity for students to learn about nonprofits through real world experience, while at the same time helping nonprofits through conducting governance and management assessments which may provide valuable reality checks, alignment to best practices and set the plans for committed action.
Twelve nonprofit organizations will be selected to participate in the 2013 clinic. Each nonprofit will be teamed with three students: one enrolled in the law school, one from the university graduate school’s Conflict and Dispute Resolution program and one from the graduate school’s Planning, Public Policy and Management program. From January through April, these students, under the supervision of professional nonprofit consultants, work with the nonprofit organization to assess its governance structure, management practices and key policies and procedures, and offer recommendations and suggested next steps to further strengthen the organization.
Past clients have included Emerald KidSports, Centro Latino Americano, the Siuslaw Watershed Council and the Civil Liberties Defense Center.
Susan Gary, the clinic’s co-founder and faculty advisor, worked with Nonprofit Management Program Director Rene Irvin for ten years to develop the program before the clinic finally came to fruition in January of 2012. The clinic’s interdisciplinary model makes it the only clinic of its kind in the country.
Gary believes the clinic provides a valuable service to Oregon’s non-profit community.
“Nonprofits provide incredible support to the community in a variety of ways,” said Gary. “If we can strengthen their governance structure, they will then be more able to do the good work they are trying to do.”
In the future, Gary sees the clinic providing resources such as live trainings for the non-profit community and developing a stronger state-wide scope. Eventually, Gary envisions the formation of a second clinic; the first clinic would provide assessments to nonprofits, while the second would provide legal services to assist nonprofits in improving their organizations.
Kyle Smith, an Oregon Law alumnus who graduated in 2012, participated in the program during its inaugural year. His work at the clinic was the stepping stone to his current position as Director of Communications and Development at Calapooia Watershed Council in Brownsville, Ore. He considers the non-profit clinic program to be the highlight of his law school experience, and strongly recommends the program to law school students interested in pursuing a non-legal career.
“The clinic was without a doubt the most valuable experience I had at Oregon Law,” Smith said. “I gained real world skills that helped me understand how nonprofits function, and the resume value of the clinic is what ultimately landed me my first job out of law school.” Smith was so impressed with what the clinic could offer nonprofits that he is encouraging his employer to apply for a spot in this year’s clinic.
Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund (OLSPIF) will sell snowflakes in order to provide stipends for law students to work in public service in their fall fundraiser, Flurry of Giving, from Monday, Nov. 5 to Tuesday, Nov. 20.
Fundraisers such as Flurry of Giving play a vital role in allowing law students to work in public service organizations because often those organizations cannot afford to pay for legal clerks. In past years, OLSPIF has provided up to 13 law students with summer stipends. These students went on to do summer work for organizations such as the Alliance for Children’s Rights and the Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth.
Ultimately, the main beneficiaries of public service programs such as OLSPIF are people in need within our community. Students who receive the stipends provide legal assistance to organizations whose capacity to help the community is often overwhelmed by a vast amount of client need. The time students spend working for public service organizations is time spent benefiting the greater community.
Snowflakes cost $5 (small), $10 (medium) and $20 (large), and can be ordered online at https://law.uoregon.edu/snowflakes/. The public may also order a “snow shower” for $100 and receive a cluster of snowflakes decorated by OLSPIF students.
Orders also can be emailed to Amanda Schuft, at firstname.lastname@example.org, and paid for by check to UO Foundation/Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund, c/o Jane Steckbeck, 1221 University of Oregon, Eugene, OR 97403-1221.
In addition, you can purchase a snowflake by visiting the OLSPIF table in the Oregon Law commons area during any lunch hour during Nov. 5- 20. Purchased snowflakes will be decorated by volunteers over the Thanksgiving weekend and used to adorn the Oregon Law common areas.
On Nov. 16, the documentary “We’re Not Broke” will be screened at the First Unitarian Church in Portland. The film, which depicts how seven citizen activists have reacted to corporate tax dodgers, was shown at prestigious film festivals such as Sundance and the Dallas International Film Festival.
After the screening, Oregon Law’s tax, property and environmental law expert Professor Roberta Mann will speak as part of a panel on issues presented in the film. Mann earned her J.D. cum laude from Arizona State University and received an L.L.M. in taxation from Georgetown University Law Center. After practicing in the Office of Chief Counsel of the Internal Revenue Service she served on the Staff of the Joint Committee on Taxation in U.S. Congress.
According to the film’s webpage, “We’re Not Broke” discusses how multibillion-dollar corporations (e.g., Google, Bank of America) have been able to hide over a trillion dollars from Uncle Sam. While this occurs teachers, police officers, firefighters and other Americans are being laid off and left on their own to survive. The film deals with the issues of America’s current tax codes and policies.
Directors/Producers Karin Hayes and Victoria Bruce are both recipients of multiple filmmaking awards including the duPont-Columbia University Award for excellence in broadcast journalism. Executive Producer Charles Davidson is the publisher of the American Interest Magazine and is active in public advocacy.
The film will screen at 6:30 p.m. Requested admission price is a $5-20 donation.
The University School of Law is pleased to congratulate alumni and faculty on being named among the 2012 Oregon State Bar Awards recipients. The Oregon State Bar Annual Awards Luncheon, which will honor the recipients, will be held in The Governor Hotel in Portland on Thursday, Nov. 29. Oregon Law is proud to have faculty and alumni named as leaders in Oregon’s legal industry.
The Oregon Law alumni recipients include Sarah J. Crooks, ’96, who received the Edwin J. Peterson Professionalism Award; Emilie Edling, ’03, who received the President's Affirmative Action Award; Ben Eder, ’05, and David Eder, ’05, who were both recognized with the President’s Membership Service Award; Laura Salerno Owens, ’07, and Elizabeth Holsapple Kraus, ‘11, who both received the Volunteers of the Year Award; and Hon. Michael J. McShane, ’86, who received the President’s Public Service Award.
This year, the Oregon State Bar Association also recognized Oregon Law professor Suzanne Rowe with the President’s Public Leadership Award for her contributions to the column, “The Legal Writer.” The column appears regularly in the Oregon State Bar Bulletin and tackles legal writing problems from a fresh perspective.
Jane Gordon, director of the University of Oregon School of Law Appropriate Dispute Resolution Center and associate dean for Student and Program Affairs, is the recipient of the Oregon State Bar Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Section’s 2012 Sidney Lezak Award. The award, which acknowledges excellence in the field of alternative dispute resolution, will be presented at the OSB ADR Section’s annual meeting on Tuesday, Nov. 6, at the White Stag Block in Portland, Ore.
To attend the Annual Awards Luncheon honoring the distinguished recipients, register on the Oregon State Bar website. Individual tickets and reserved tables for ten are available.