2017 OLSPIF Stipend Recipients

In the early 1990s, a group of law students joined a growing nationwide movement to raise funds so that their peers could accept public service summer employment that otherwise would be unpaid. The first Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund Annual Auction began in 1994 sparking a long and successful tradition of spirited fundraising. The OLSPIF Annual Auction enjoys a long history of success because of student, faculty, and community support.  Every year, OLSPIF increases its capacity to support student public interest work.

2017 OLSPIF Stipend Recipients

Liisa Anderson Kelsey Cunningham
Morgan Ashley Matt Fouts
Peter Blair  Claire Powers
Daniel Bonham  Karma Read
Hayley Capener Amanda Smitley

Liisa Anderson, Oregon Law Center Lane County Division

My OLSPIF stipend allowed me to work at Oregon Law Center (OLC). OLC is a non-profit organization that helps low-income Oregonians access legal assistance they otherwise would not be able to afford. Specifically, I was blessed to work with the Survivors Justice Center and to stop domestic violence and to support sexual assault survivors. I drafted a memorandum in opposition to threatening personal expression as a defense to protective orders. I also assisted on emotionally difficult dissolution and custody cases. My summer at OLC inspired me to dedicate my legal career to assisting survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Morgan Ashley, Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services

Thanks to the OLSPIF stipend, I had the amazing opportunity to work for Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services (CCILS) in Portland. The goal of CCILS is to provide immigration services to low income individuals across Oregon. As a part of my internship, I completed visa applications for victims of violence and Deferred Action for Childhood Arrival applications. I also participated in client intake appointments, conducted legal research, drafted legal arguments, and visited immigration court. My experience at CCILS solidified my passion for public interest law, and I am grateful to OLSPIF and supporters for this amazing experience.

Peter Blair, Environmental Defense Center

Thanks to my stipend, I clerked with the Environmental Defense Center (EDC). EDC is a non-profit environmental law firm focused on protecting and enhancing the environment of California’s south-central coast and beyond through education, advocacy, and legal action. I conducted legal research, attended hearings before the California Energy Commission, and drafted in office memos for various projects. I worked on briefs for active litigation combating offshore oil and natural gas development, fighting new fossil fuel power plants, and protecting sensitive habitat and endangered species. This incredible experience strengthened my skills and solidified my passion for public interest environmental law.

Daniel Bonham, Legal Aid Services of Oregon

The OLSPIF stipend allowed me to spend my summer working with Legal Aid Services of Oregon, advocating for indigent clientele who would otherwise be unable to obtain representation. I represented multiple victims of domestic violence in contested restraining and stalking order hearings. The stipend also allowed me to work with senior attorneys providing assistance to our clientele in a wide array of legal matters. With the support of the OLSPIF donors and volunteers, I was able to make a real difference in the lives of those in need, and I am truly grateful for the opportunity this stipend granted me.

Hayley Capener, Access the Law

This summer I was given the great opportunity to work for Access the Law, a non-profit organization that provides legal services to community members of modest means. Thanks to the OLSPIF stipend, I helped attorneys with research questions regarding criminal, property and landlord/tenant issues. I was able to draft, review and revise documents for clients and community members. In addition, I assisted with the Veterans’ Free Legal Clinic, which provides legal services for men and women who have served our country. OLSPIF allowed me to gain the real-world experience of what it’s like to be a practicing attorney.

Kelsey Cunningham, Youth, Rights & Justice

My OLSPIF stipend allowed me to pursue my dream of working to assist youth in the juvenile justice system. This summer I had the opportunity to intern as a law clerk for Youth, Rights & Justice, a non-profit law firm in Portland. I assisted attorneys with legal research and was also able to work directly with clients. This experience allowed me to understand the systems that affect youth and vulnerable families. It was an invaluable learning opportunity that instilled my passion to fight to protect vulnerable individuals and find a way to give them a voice.

Matt Fouts, Atlanta Legal Aid Society

Thanks to OLSPIF, I spent the summer working for the Atlanta Legal Aid Society. Atlanta Legal Aid is one of the oldest legal aid organizations in the country.  I worked in the general law unit, specializing in family law, landlord-tenant, and public benefit cases.  During my internship, I conducted client interview and accompanied attorneys and clients to court.  I also attended weekly case meetings where the attorneys decided which cases to take.  I am extremely grateful to OLSPIF donors who provided this opportunity to work with attorneys pursuing social justice.

Claire Powers, Metropolitan Public Defenders

This summer I worked as a court certified law student for the Metropolitan Public Defenders in Portland, Oregon. With MPD, I represented indigent clients on a range of misdemeanors, through all stages of their criminal cases. This included writing and arguing motions, investigating charges, meeting with clients, covering dockets, preparing for trial, negotiating and entering plea deals, and much, much more. The experience was an invaluable opportunity to learn the realities of the court system and support the vulnerable populations navigating it. Thank you to OLSPIF for making it all possible!

Karma Read, Oregon Innocence Project

Thanks to my OLSPIF stipend, I was able to intern with the Oregon Innocence Project (OIP) in Portland, OR. OIP’s mission is to exonerate the wrongfully convicted and promote legal reforms aimed at preventing wrongful convictions. This summer, I had the opportunity to investigate, research, and write about several factual claims of innocence.  The internship sharpened my critical thinking and creativity. In addition, I was able to work closely with highly regarded professionals in the legal community. I am thankful to OIP and OLSPIF for making my dream of working with the wrongfully convicted a reality.

Amanda Smitley, Youth, Rights & Justice

Thanks to OLSPIF, I was able to put the fear of not making money aside and work for a nonprofit law firm in Portland, OR. This summer I worked for Youth Rights and Justice, a firm that represents youth and parents in the juvenile justice system. My work focused on delinquency charges and included meeting clients and doing research. The opportunity to work at YRJ solidified my dream of working in juvenile law. I was able to serve a nonprofit law firm, families, and the community at large.