Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund announces new 2019 cohort

Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund cohort

Oregon Law has a strong tradition of public service. In its 28th year, the Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund (OLSPIF) continues this legacy by naming 15 first-year and second-year students as the 2019 OSLPIF recipients.

OLSPIF is a nonprofit student group that raises money through an annual auction to support law students working over the summer in unpaid public interest positions. In an era when fewer paid summer legal jobs are available to students, this OLSPIF-funded work has become an important option for students.

This year, OLSPIF held a successful fundraising auction and received a $20,000 gift from the Carol and Velma Saling Foundation. The gift was record-breaking and for the first time, the organization was able to offer 15 full stipends to students who are passionately engaged in public service.

The 2019 cohort includes: Brooklynn Armesto-Larson, Casey S. Dreher, Matthew DePaolis, Colin Farnsworth, Matthew Gaddis, Alex Huntley-Romanow, Makenzie Kaiser, Taylor Kinch, Margaret McAdams, Robert Mellinger, Jessica Moore, Sarah Osborn, Lydia Schlitt, Hillary Thereen, and Sierra Waechter

Learn more about the OLSPIF Scholars:

Brooklynn Armesto-Larson, JD ’20 and Casey S. Dreher JD ’20

Public Defender Services of Lane County - PDSLC (Eugene, OR): The PDSLCis a non-profit law firm which provides legal representation to clients once appointed by the Lane County Circuit Court. As law clerks, Armesto-Larson and Dreher will represent clients charged with minor misdemeanors in court (with attorney supervision), conduct legal research and analysis, attend arraignments and other court proceedings, as well as write and argue motions.

Matthew DePaolis JD ’20

Crag Law Center, Legal Aid for the Environment (Portland, OR): Crag is a client-focus law center that supports community efforts to protect and sustain the Pacific Northwest’s natural beauty. DePaolis’ will be responsible for conducting legal research; drafting pleadings, motions and memoranda; and assisting CRAG staff attorneys in preparing for administrative hearings and arguments in state and federal court.

Colin Farnsworth, JD 21

Community Environmental Legal Defense Fund - CELDF (Eugene, OR): The mission of CELDF is to build sustainable communities by working to protect the environment and assisting people to assert their right to local self-government. Farnsworth will work on several projects in Washington and Oregon conducting legal research and writing, as well as developing presentations and educational material on local democracy.

Matthew Gaddis JD ’20

Youth, Rights & Justice (Portland, OR): Youth, Rights & Justice is an independent, nonprofit law firm that serves children and youth -- primarily those in foster care -- who are abused, neglected or in trouble; students who face challenges at school; and parents who need help keeping their families intact. Gaddis’ work will include legal research and writing, and he will meet with clients and other community members in the Department of Human Services, the Juvenile Department, and the Bench.

Alex Huntley-Romanow, JD ‘21

Access the Law- ATL (Eugene, OR): ATL is a nonprofit legal services organization assisting and representing community members of modest means. Huntley-Romanow will assist with the Veterans Free Legal Clinic and coordination of the VA and Veterans Treatment Court. Additionally, he will conduct research for cases involving family law, landlord-tenant, debtor-creditor, and criminal law issues.

Makenzie Kaiser, JD ’21

Civil Liberties Defense Center - CLDC (Eugene, OR): The CLDC works to eliminate social inequality and environmental destruction through litigation and education. Kaiser will work directly with the executive director on active litigation. She will research and write memos; attend meetings with climate justice activists, blockaders and labor activists; and conduct community outreach related to “Know Your Rights” training.

Taylor Kinch, JD ’21

Legal Aid Services of Oregon (Portland, OR): Legal Aid Services of Oregon (LASO) is a nonprofit organization that represents low-income clients in civil cases. Kinch’swork as a summer clerk will focus on family law, housing, and public benefits. She will complete research and writing projects and staff legal clinics.

Margaret McAdams, JD ’21

Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services (Portland, OR): Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services (CCILS) is a nonprofit immigration law firm that helps community members attain immigration status in the United States to enhance their stability and quality of life. McAdams’ will work on obtaining and translating affidavits from clients. She will also assist in the preparation of application packets for immigration relief under the Trafficking Victims Protection Act and under the Violence Against Women Act.

Robert Mellinger, JD ’21

Our Children’s Trust - OTC (Eugene, OR): OCT is a nonprofit organization that works to secure the legal right to a healthy atmosphere and stable climate for current and future generations. Mellinger’s will assist attorneys in their efforts on behalf of youth. He will work with experts; conduct legal and evidentiary research; and draft legal memoranda, ordinances, and petitions for rulemaking. In addition, he will assist with all aspects of litigation in the constitutional and public trust climate case, Juliana v. US.

Jessica Moore, JD ’21

The Commons Law Center (Portland, OR): The Commons Law Center is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization that offers family law, estate planning, probate, nonprofit, and small business law services. As a law clerk, Moore will conduct client intakes and screenings. In addition, Moore will do legal research and draft legal documents, as well as participate in community engagement work to ensure that Commons' legal services are useful and relevant to underserved and marginalized populations.

Sarah Osborn, JD ’21

Northwest Workers Justice Project – NWJP (Portland, OR): The mission of NWJP is to support the efforts of low-wage, immigrant and contingent workers to protect their workplace dignity and to improve wages and working conditions. As a clerk, Osborn will interview clients, research claims, review payroll records, prepare pleadings, write briefs, prepare and respond to discovery, and help attorneys prepare for hearings and trials. Osborn will also sit in on mediations, depositions, arbitrations and hearings and trials.

Lydia Schlitt, JD ’20

Gideon's Promise (Augusta, GA): The mission of Gideon’s Promise is to transform the criminal justice system by building a movement of public defenders who provide equal justice for marginalized communities. Schlitt will work as a court-certified law clerk for the Augusta Public Defender's Office. She will conduct legal research, draft legal documents, and conduct interviews. She will visit jails, assist public defenders with cases, and appear in court to support the attorneys.

Hilary Therien, JD ’21

Oregon Law Center - OLC (Hillsboro, OR): OLC provides legal services to low-income Oregonians in thirty-six counties. Therien will work with the farmworker program which focuses on representation of agricultural workers on issues of discrimination, individual rights, occupational health and safety, and wages. In her role, she will have the opportunity to go to farms and seek out individuals in need of assistance or advocacy. She will help research legal issues and compose documents to improve client’s work environments.

Sierra Waechter, JD ’21

Center for Sustainable Economy- CSE (Portland, OR): CSE is a public interest nonprofit organization that works to accelerate the transition to a just and sustainable society. Waechter will work with the Climate Justice Program.In her role, she will conduct legal research on local polices such as the Oregon Green New Deal, environmental regulation of natural gas projects, the Portland Fossil Fuel Zoning Amendments, and the Portland and Multnomah County's 2020 Climate Action Plan Update process.

OLSPIF is currently accepting both in-kind donations and direct monetary support.

By Rayna Jackson, School of Law Communications