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Willamette Law announces new public interest law fellowships

by Sarah Bello,

Associate Dean Jeff Dobbins, College of Law

As a young lawyer, Associate Dean Jeff Dobbins served as a clerk for former U.S. Supreme Court Justice John Paul Stevens and saw the effort the Justice made to learn about a case as a whole, while focusing on the legal questions at hand.

“Understanding the social, racial and economic context of a legal dispute was an important part of what made Justice Stevens not only an excellent Supreme Court justice, but a marvelous human being,” Dobbins says.

Through a national matching program facilitated by the John Paul Stevens Foundation Fellowship Network, Willamette Law students now have access to new public interest law fellowships. The Foundation represents Stevens’ personal conviction that an effective justice system requires committed lawyers doing public interest work.

As such, the fellowships are an excellent addition to Willamette’s public interest law program, Dobbins explains.

“Public interest is one of the areas we consider to be Willamette Law’s Signature Strengths,” he says. “Students already apply for public interest law fellowships through the student organization, WUPILP, so we are thrilled that this new partnership with the Stevens Foundation will increase access and the opportunity for more students to become involved in public service through the law.”

With the assistance of a grant from the Foundation, Willamette Law sponsors four Stevens Fellows. The first Stevens Fellows, selected this spring, are:

  • Brooke Trujillo, Legal Aid Services of Oregon (Albany office)
  • Emma Gill, Immigration Counseling Services
  • Faith O’Malley, SOAR Immigration Legal Services
  • Robin Hopkins, Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization Legal Services

The experiential learning opportunities presented by public service externships can’t be ignored, says Willamette Law Dean Brian Gallini. Because externships are often unpaid, creating additional funded public service opportunities is critical to facilitate work done for nonprofits and government entities.

“Providing additional fellowships gives students the chance to work in public service without having to worry about how they’ll support themselves through the summer,” Gallini explains. “We’re honored to work with the Stevens Foundation and continue to promote Justice Stevens’ legacy.”

Fellows immediately become part of a national network of past and current students committed to public interest work. This year, 159 Stevens Fellows are serving in the field, nearly doubling last year’s cohort of 81 Fellows.

“The impact that these students can make by connecting with each other and with their communities exemplifies the kind of practical, tangible considerations that were such an important part of how Justice Stevens approached the law,” Dobbins says.

About Willamette University College of Law

Willamette University College of Law was the first law school to open in the Pacific Northwest. Building on deep historic roots, we focus with pride on educating the next generation of problem-solving lawyers and leaders. Our location in Salem, Oregon, directly across the street from the Oregon State Capitol and Supreme Court, cannot be matched in the region. Our thought-leading scholars advance and promote our shared responsibility to make a difference in society, placing justice, fairness, and equality at the heart of everything we do.

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