In 2013, the UO School of Law quietly rolled out the Public Law and Policy [PLP] Program under the leadership of Stuart Chinn and Jane Steckbeck. The PLP Program pulled together some existing resources and some new components to lay the foundation for a comprehensive program that supports UO Law students’ interests in public interest law, public sector legal work, and public policy.
UO Law has long encouraged students’ public service through its pro bono program, Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund, and the Loan Repayment Assistance Program. PLP brings these groups together under one umbrella, and offers academic concentrations in Public Interest Law and Law & Public Policy, student fellowships, engaging policy-focused events for the law school community, and experience in its the law school’s Nonprofit Clinic.
Chinn and PLP staff also work with the Wayne Morse Center to facilitate the annual O’Connell Conference, made possible by Kenneth J. O’Connell, former Chief Justice of the Oregon Supreme Court. Last year’s conference, Oregon’s Public Universities and Colleges: Facing the Crisis, brought together national legal experts, judges, and policymakers in Portland to explore some of the most difficult questions facing the state’s higher education system. This year, the O’Connell Conference scheduled for January will focus on the issues that arise as legal precedent and rapidly evolving science collide.
This past summer, Chinn assumed the role of Associate Dean for Programs & Research, where he will continue to engage with the PLP Program, along with all the other subject-matter and degree-granting programs in the UO School of Law. In this role, he will also serve as the Director of Externships and oversee faculty development activities.
Chinn notes that even though his engagement with PLP may be somewhat more limited moving forward, he is “excited by Jennifer Geller’s continuing leadership of the Program, and by the growth of the Program over the past several years due to both her contributions and the contributions of Jane Steckbeck.” UO Law looks forward to building on its existing activities in the public law and policy areas to support a robust experience for students interested in public interest, public sector, and public policy work.