Cassandra Skinner ’06
Practicing many types of law
Oregon Law’s Cass Skinner ’06 hasn’t limited herself to practicing just one kind of law. Initially working in family law, where she became one of Oregon’s most prominent advocates for victims of domestic violence, she now serves the public as General Counsel for Trillium Community Health Plan and as Chair of the Board of Commissioners for the Oregon Liquor Control Commission.
At Oregon Law, Skinner treasured working with the school’s Domestic Violence Clinic, in which advanced law students work directly with abuse victims and represent them in contested protective-order hearings.
“Meeting with clients, learning how to advocate for them in court, and having my work help someone who desperately needed it, was beyond description,” said Skinner of the experience.
In 2005, while Skinner was still in school, she was accepted into an externship with the Oregon Supreme Court, a stepping stone to her clerkship with Lane County Circuit Court Judge Charles “Chuck” Carlson, a ’79 Oregon Law graduate. In June of 2006, she was appointed, by then Governor Ted Kulongoski, to a three-year term on the Governor’s Council on Domestic Violence. The council coordinated a community, county and statewide response to the growing crisis of domestic violence.
Upon graduating in 2006, Skinner was well positioned to make a difference in the lives of domestic abuse survivors. And make a difference she did. Since graduating, Skinner has held board and leadership positions on the Lane Human Rights Advisory Committee; Breaking Free, a non-profit that empowers women and girls by teaching them self-defense; Head Start of Lane County; the Stop Violence Against Women Clinic Project; the Oregon State Bar Quality of Life Committee; and Oregon Women Lawyers. She also volunteered with the Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force and Lane County Legal Aid. These diverse experiences helped her become a better legal advocate.
During this time, Skinner formed SkinnerLopata Harris LLC, now known as Harris Law Group, LLC, where she specialized in divorce and family law. In June of 2009, she was appointed to be a Commissioner of the Oregon Liquor Control Commission (OLCC) by Gov. Kulongoski. In this position, Skinner helps to “promote the public interest through the responsible sale and service of alcoholic beverages,” the mission of the OLCC.
Skinner has always had an underlying interest in promoting responsible alcohol use.
“Even in high school and college I was involved in programming that advocated responsible alcohol use,” Skinner said.
In 2010, Skinner was recognized as one of the Register Guard Blue Chip’s “20 under 40.” In January 2011, she left SkinnerLopata Harris LLC, to join Trillium Community Health Plan as its General Counsel and currently holds that position as well as the title of Health Equity Officer. Trillium Community Health Plan, in partnership with Lane County, has become the area’s Coordinated Care Organization, providing physical and behavioral health care coverage to people on the Oregon Health Plan.
In July 2011, Skinner was appointed by Governor John Kitzhaber to Chair the Board of Commissioners for the OLCC, the first woman to hold the position. She is currently the only female commissioner. In addition to being Chair of the OLCC, Skinner is also a Board Member of the National Alcohol Beverage Control Association, working on alcohol policy and regulation throughout the country.
In addition to these duties, Skinner recently advocated for the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, which was created in 1994 to provide protections to victims of domestic violence. The act was renewed in April of 2012 with new provisions that extend rights to same-sex couples and undocumented immigrants.