Q & A with Attorney General Rosenblum

Ellen Rosenblum

In preparation for her speech at the 2019 School of Law Commencement, Attorney General Rosenblum took the time to share more about her Oregon Law experience. She speaks about how Oregon Law laid the foundation for her legal career, what it means to give the commencement speech to the 2019 graduating class and how she hopes to inspire the next generation of Oregon Law graduates.

Oregon Law: What Oregon Law clinics or student groups were you involved with? How did these experiences lay the foundation for your legal career?

AG Rosenblum: We had only one clinic when I attended U of O Law. So, of course, I took it — and a later term I taught it! The clinic allowed us to have the experience of “real clients” at Lane County Legal Aid, and it introduced me to the critical need for access to justice. That exposure has played out in many ways in my career, including in my roles as judge and Attorney General. It gave added urgency to the need to protect and advocate for the most vulnerable in our state. And it has helped me serve as a passionate advocate for the Campaign for Equal Justice since its inception. As a UO law student, I also became involved with OSPIRG as a consumer fraud researcher. This work inspired me to work in the public interest throughout my career — first as a lawyer in private practice, then as a prosecutor, and later as a judge. Once I was elected to serve as Oregon’s Attorney General, one of my top priorities has been protecting consumers — including seniors, immigrants, and students saddled with debt. I think it’s fair to say that this work in particular has been inspired by my early days at Legal Aid and OSPIRG. I encourage all law students, and lawyers, to find opportunities to do work in the public interest, including pro bono. We all have such a great capacity — and obligation — to serve our most vulnerable fellow Oregonians.

Oregon Law:What does it mean to you to return to you alma mater and give the commencement speech?

AG Rosenblum: This is the most special speaking invitation I have ever had! It means the world to me, especially as an alum of the school, to be recognized as someone who might be able to capture — in a few short remarks — some of the reasons a law degree has greater value and importance than ever before — and why I am so proud to be a lawyer and to support new graduates.

I am a passionate supporter of the School of Law and take every opportunity to declare my “Double Duck” status wherever I go and whenever I can. I have been involved as an alumna with UO Law ever since I graduated, as I believe it is critically important that we give back to the school in whatever ways we can. There are many avenues to stay involved and engaged with the school. Our alumni volunteer as judges for moot court competitions, guest lecturers in classes, and mentors for students and new graduates. They serve as adjunct instructors, hire law students to work in summer programs at their law firms and often hire our graduates. And, when they are able, they give back by writing checks!

For years, after serving as President of the Law School Alumni Association, I served on the Dean’s advisory committee, and helped envision the school’s future and assure our academic excellence. To speak at commencement provides a unique opportunity to address students, their families, faculty, and alums to share my passion and vision for the future of our profession.

Oregon Law: How do you hope to encourage the next generation of Oregon Law students?

AG Rosenblum: I hope this next generation of lawyers will see a little of themselves in me. Not only do we have U of O Law in common, but I think many of us share a passion for the public service side of law. With all respect, I hope, in particular, to speak to the 75% who are not in the top quarter of their class, grade-wise. I hope to inspire them to reach for the stars in their legal career. There is such a need for good, smart, compassionate lawyers. No one should feel they cannot reach the pinnacle of our profession — which, to me (and here I’m borrowing the words of the late Judge Owen M. Panner) means being an effective legal problem-solver, especially for those most likely to suffer serious consequences without such help

By School of Law Communications