Peter O. Watts ’02 recently received the Daily Journal of Commerce (DJC) 2012 Up & Coming Lawyer Award. The award recognizes attorneys practicing in an array of environments who demonstrate a commitment to the legal profession as well as their communities.
Watts was admitted to the Oregon Bar in 2002. Currently he serves as the president of the Clackamas County Business Alliance Board of Directors. He practices at Jordan Ramis P.C. in Lake Oswego, Ore., concentrating on municipal and local government law, debt negotiation and general business. Watts was previously recognized as a Rising Star by Oregon Super Lawyers Magazine.
Adding to his commitment to the community, Watts serves on the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Oregon Junior Board of Directors. Make-A-Wish raises money to assist with wish fulfillment for children with life threatening illnesses. Since 2010, he has also served on the board of Child Centered Solutions.
Watts is professionally accomplished and very passionate about helping others. He spends a great deal of his professional time working on community involvement projects and pro bono work.
Watts was chosen from among a list of 21 total nominees. Nine other Oregon Law alums were also finalists: Elaine Albrich ’05, James Bruce ’06, Jason Busch ’06, Ben Eder ’05, David Eder ’05, Bradford Miller ’07, Laura Salerno Owens ’07 and Anna Sortun ’04. Alumni Traci Ray ’07 and Oregon Law Communications Director Erick Hoffman were among the finalists for the Unsung Legal Hero Award.
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On Nov. 3-4, the University of Oregon School of Law Moot Court Board hosted the ABA’s Negotiation Regional Championship, a competition in which teams of two simulate legal negotiations. The theme this year was small business negotiations. According to the Oregon Law Moot Court Board, the negotiation competition helps students develop dispute resolution skills.
For the competition, teams received legal problems in advance before facing off in several rounds of 50-minute negotiations, all while attempting to negotiate the best deal for their client.
This year, the negotiation competition attracted 24 teams from 14 law schools across the Northwest, including two Oregon Law teams.
The first Oregon Law team included KayLynn Alley, a ‘Double Duck’ from Albany, Ore. interested in pursuing intellectual property law, and Lara Smith, a Seattle native interested in a career in business and intellectual property law. The second Oregon Law team was comprised of Brian Hennes, who has a background in biology and wants to pursue environmental law, and Bay Toft-Dupuy, who will work for the EPA during the summer of 2013 and wants to pursue environmental law. All Oregon Law participants are 2Ls.
In a close finish, with only one point separating the top two teams, the Alley and Smith team finished second, and the Hennes and Toft-Dupuy team finished third.
“At first, we were disappointed to finish second by such a close margin, but after reflecting on it, we were very successful overall, and the negotiation competition experience is invaluable to our future career paths,” said Alley.
The two Oregon teams qualified for the regional championship by finishing as the top two teams among the 16 teams who entered Oregon Law’s Moot Court inner-school competition. After qualifying within Oregon Law, the two teams spent a month preparing for the regional competition with weekly practice sessions lasting several hours. Both teams were coached by Josh Gordon, director of Oregon Law’s Competition Not Conflict program, and Laura Schultz, an Oregon Law 3L.
“I was impressed with both teams’ eagerness to embrace coaching and feedback, and how much they improved in a relatively short period of time,” said Gordon.
Congratulations to both Oregon Law teams for their successful efforts, and to the Moot Court Board for a job well done in organizing the entire Negotiation Regional Championship event.
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.