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Willamette Law launches innovative new Immigrant Justice Scholars program

by Jessica Rotter,

Lady Justice Statue

Willamette Law is proud to announce the launch of the Immigrant Justice Scholars (IJS) program.  This groundbreaking initiative is aimed at supporting social justice-minded students in a specialized course of study and community participation, leading to post-graduate attorney positions in funded fellowships.

The program includes an immigration-specific curriculum, experiential learning opportunities, and  a final immersive semester of clinical work in Portland, Oregon. Participants in the IJS program will be eligible for partial tuition scholarships and, after successful completion of the program, participants will be competitive for the Oregon Immigrant Justice Fellowship Program, sponsored by Oregon Worker Relief (“OWR”).  Fellows would be employed for one year, with potential to renew for a second year, and would provide direct legal services as part of the the Equity Corps of Oregon (ECO) universal representation program. 

In addition to the usual law school curriculum, scholars will benefit from both a strong foundation in immigration law and hands-on experience with experts in the field under the umbrella of the Portland Immigration Initiative. Willamette Law Professor Sarah Purce views this groundbreaking initiative as an opportunity to redefine many aspects of legal education and immigration advocacy in Oregon.

In fact, the program’s launch could not come at a better time for both Oregon and Willamette Law. Purce shares that “this program is going to be  beneficial to its scholars by taking advantage of the confluence of three events: Willamette Law has the only immigration law clinic in the state; Oregon has the most expansive universal representation program for immigrants in the country; and the state recently adopted historic attorney licensure reform in the form of the Supervised Practice Portfolio Examination (SPPE).” 

The IJS program serves as a continuation of a collaborative partnership between the law school and OWR. 

Purce says, “The partnership we have built with Oregon Worker Relief and Innovation Law Lab to provide direct representation under the ECO  means that the scholars will continue gaining experience and training from experts in the field during their full time paid fellowship after graduation.  In addition to funding the current fellowship positions, OWR has agreed to designate experienced attorneys to serve as supervising attorneys for the scholars interested in participating in the SPPE.”

The law school looks forward to welcoming its first cohort of  students in the IJS program in the fall of 2024. Incoming law students can indicate their interest in applying to the IJS program on their law school admissions application. The opportunity for scholars to turn their knowledge into action will help to advance access to legal services for underserved immigrant communities in Oregon. 

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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