This summer, many students from Oregon Law will get valuable public interest legal experience working for nonprofits and organizations in Eugene and Portland, Oregon; Juneau, Alaska; Chicago, Illinois; Cape Town, South Africa, and many more. And it's made possible by a student-run organization called OLSPIF (Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund).
Every winter, OLSPIF students raise money to support summer legal jobs by planning and hosting a formal dinner and auction. Businesses from throughout Oregon donate auction items—from bottles of wine and sports tickets to vacations in France. The event is attended by attorneys and judges from the statewide legal community and is a powerful networking opportunity.
For students who want to stay put when the academic year ends, many summer legal positions are available in Eugene for organizations like the Western Environmental Law Center, Access the Law, and the Lane County Legal Aid and Advocacy Center.
Other students will spend their summers working in places like Juneau, Alaska (Trout Unlimited); Chicago, Illinois (the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency); Portland, Oregon (the American Civil Liberties Union); and Cape Town, South Africa (the South African Human Rights Commission).
Spencer Wyatt worked last summer for the Eugene, Oregon nonprofit Access to Law, which provides legal services to those who cannot afford paid representation. "I gained the understanding that working in the legal field offers the opportunity to help actual people with actual problems," said Spencer.
Emily Fenster traveled to Cape Town, South Africa last summer to work for Traffic---where she was directly involved in helping reduce illegal wildlife poaching and harvesting in nearby Mozambique. "The experience taught me a lot," said Emily,"and I'm excited to take this knowledge forward in my career, which I hope will involve legislation to create laws and litigation to enforce laws preventing wildlife and environmental crime."
Lizzie Bailey, who worked last summer at Northwest Justice Project in Vancouver, Washington, said "This was really my first practical legal experience, and regardless of my legal career path, I learned so much about what it means to be a good lawyer. It was invaluable."