The Good Citizen
“An important factor in my choosing Willamette was the school’s Certificate Program in Law and Government,” said Jamie E. Carmichael, a member of the Class of 2009. “The certificate is a way for me to distinguish myself from other law graduates. It shows prospective employers that my interest is primarily focused on government service.”
Although her father is a tax attorney, Carmichael had no desire to pursue a career in law until she studied landmark legal cases in a high school government class. “I realized then that I had a true interest in law,” she said.
Following high school, the Eugene, Ore., native attended Eastern Washington University, where she received both athletic and academic scholarships. An All-State volleyball player in high school, Carmichael helped her college team win three straight Big Sky championships, all while earning academic honors. As a senior, she interned with the Washington State Legislature in Olympia, where she worked on a wide range of legal issues and constituentinitiated disputes against the state.
After graduating magna cum laude in 2004, Carmichael became campaign manager for a Republican Senate candidate in Washington. Her candidate lost, but the experience led to a legislative assistant position with Sen. Jim Honeyford. “I helped manage bill movement from hold status to the floor,” said Carmichael, who worked closely with the staff attorneys. It was during this time that she started considering different Northwest law schools.
Carmichael chose Willamette University College of Law because of its proximity to the Oregon Legislature and her family in Eugene. “It’s a perfect location for me,” said Carmichael, who has taken advantage of the school’s location near the Capitol.
“Willamette has given me so many different learning experiences,” Carmichael said. During the summer of 2007, she worked as a law clerk in the Trial Division of the Oregon Department of Justice. The following spring, she served as an extern with the Oregon Court of Appeals. “It was great to work with the judges as a student,” said Carmichael, who had the opportunity to observe the inner workings of the court, including pre- and post-oral argument meetings, and the judges’ decision-making process. “How better to learn the law than from the people who decide cases?” she asked.
Since May 2008, Carmichael has worked as a certified law clerk for the Marion County District Attorney’s Office. “The job has given me the opportunity to try a different area of the law without having to dedicate my career to a certain kind of practice,” she said. “I’ve found that I really like being in the courtroom. I enjoy the one-on-one battle. I enjoy the adrenaline rush from that.”
In addition to managing misdemeanor cases, Carmichael assisted on a high profile murder case. “The case was emotionally draining,” said Carmichael, who helped with trial preparations on a case involving the sexual assault and murder of a 2-year-old girl.
Although she entered law school thinking it would lead to a career with the Legislature, Carmichael is no longer sure what type of position she will pursue. What she does know is that her legal studies have set her on the right path. “Law school has made me a better citizen,” said Carmichael, who served as 1L and 2L class president, as well as president of the Student Bar Association during her third year of school. “I knew I would be a good advocate for students,” she said. “My hope for the future is to be a strong advocate for my clients. I hope to facilitate good resolutions.
“Law school has given me validation in so many ways,” she added. “I’ve been able to tell myself, ‘Yes, I am qualified; I am a lawyer.’”