From the Multnomah Lawyer: Lewis & Clark Law School Adds a Service Component to New Student Orientation

Groups of brand new incoming first-year law students trudged down to the Nature Center from Lewis & Clark Law School on a Wednesday afternoon at the end of August, dressed to get dirty. Meanwhile, other 1L students carpooled to locations around the area as far away as Hillsboro and as close as downtown Portland ready to put their hands, brains, and compassion to good use.

Nearly 180 of Lewis & Clark Law School’s newest students participated in an afternoon of service as part of orientation this year, the first time the law school has ever undertaken such a project. All incoming first-year students volunteered at organizations tackling issues in our community such as homelessness, food insecurity, and fire safety.

Professor Sandy Patrick, who conceived of the idea, said, “As lawyers, a large part of what we do is help others, no matter what kind of law we practice. As a law school, we aspire to foster that sense of service in our students. Having students begin their legal career by volunteering with local Portland organizations helps students connect with each other and the local community; maybe more importantly, it instills a sense of purpose and fulfillment that will last a lifetime.”

Tasks ranged from sorting clothes at Dress for Success to sanitizing children’s toys at Ronald McDonald House. Students scanned and filed documents at both of St. Andrew Legal Clinic’s locations. They processed frozen cranberries at the Oregon Food Bank. They helped foster children shop for back-to-school clothing at Project Lemonade. They deep cleaned the community space at Sexual and Gender Minority Youth Resource Center. At Habitat Restore, they processed donations of new and used building materials, furniture and appliances for sale to support Habitat for Humanity home-building projects. “I think it’s really important that we, as law students and (hopefully) future lawyers, engage in the community because a huge part of becoming a lawyer is a desire to advocate for people who perhaps are not able to advocate for themselves,” incoming 1L Mason Pierce thoughtfully remarked. “I think it can be really easy to get lost in the law school bubble and become removed from the needs of the community. Engaging in service is a good reminder of what still needs to be done and what responsibilities we carry as we pursue this profession.”

Incoming 1L Mara Bauermeister was surprised to see how many volunteer opportunities are available in Portland and felt it was a positive experience to learn a little about, and volunteer for, an organization in the area. “It was nice to hear that St. Andrew Legal Clinic in Hillsboro already had such positive experiences with previous Lewis & Clark law students and was enthusiastic about having new law students there to help out. I had never really considered family law before, but seeing how St. Andrew’s Legal Clinic works and how passionate the attorneys are about their jobs was really inspiring.”

Organizations had nothing but good things to say about the new law student volunteers. Tess DeBartolo from JOIN, commented that the students were, “absolutely amazing.” Lewis & Clark thanks the following organizations for hosting our students and providing them with a wonderful introduction to volunteering in the Portland metro area: Dress for Success, Friends of Tryon Creek, Habitat Restore, JOIN, Oregon Food Bank, Project Lemonade, Red Cross, Ronald McDonald House, Sexual and Gender Minority Youth C enter, and the St. Andrew Legal Clinic.

A special thank you The Media Foundation, which accommodated our part-time students by bringing a community service project to campus in the evening.

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