Serving the law and the community

by University Communications,

Willamette Law Professor Laura Appleman trains students to practice criminal law.

“My major role is to train great prosecutors and great defenders to work in Oregon,” Appleman said. “It’s a great and honorable calling, one that I’m proud to help support in a small way.”

However, her instruction goes far beyond the classroom, expanding into the practical aspects of running a law business.

“I’m not talking about just helping them pass the bar,” Appleman explained, “it’s teaching students what it means to hang up a shingle, or to go to work for a prosecutor or in criminal defense.”

She also touts criminal law as a steady gig.

“There will always be a job for you in criminal justice – crime will never go away,” she observed. “You may not make billions of dollars, but you’ll always have a job.”

Her passion for her profession keeps her weighing in on a variety of legal matters. She recently authored an article looking at the “epidemic of fees and fines” for criminal justice matters.

“With lower-level crimes, there are a lot of fees and fines,” she said. “There are fees for public defenders, you have to pay to be on probation … but then, if you can’t pay, you get thrown in jail. We’re no longer supposed to have debtors’ prison, but we still do this.”

Professor Appleman also published a book this year, Defending the Jury: Crime, Community, and the Constitution (Cambridge UP: 2015). “In the book, I argue that the people's right to participate in the criminal justice system through the criminal jury — a right that is all too often overlooked — is essential to truly legitimizing the criminal process and ensuring its democratic nature,” she said. “I try to provide solutions to some of our legal problems by focusing on ways to insert the local community back into criminal justice.”