Pro Bono service includes new projects serving asylum seekers

UO Law students in Karnes Texas

Oregon Law students in Karnes, Texas.

Oregon Law students continue to engage in pro bono legal work at high rates, reflecting the school’s reputation as a place where public service is the norm and valued. This year, Oregon Law’s pro bono efforts includes two new projects serving the needs of asylum seekers.

Students organized a week-long trip to Karnes, Texas, during winter break. While there, they helped prepare detained immigrants for their asylum interviews. Skyler Brocker-Knapp who went on the trip said the students’ work was difficult, and “while devastated by the stories we heard, we were also inspired by the attorneys we worked with and the detainees we met.”

On the local front, the nonprofit Grupo Latino de Accion Directa (GLAD) is working to expand legal representation of asylum seekers in Lane County. This past spring, immigration attorney Raquel Hecht began recruiting local attorneys to take asylum cases. The project has started to pair pro bono attorneys with student law clerks, some of whom have Spanish language skills that the attorneys do not.

Like new projects, annual recognitions also highlight the important role pro bono work plays at Oregon Law. Benjamin Farkash and Catherine Roner-Reiter received the Nicole Richardson Outstanding Public Service Award. Benjamin’s pro bono service included coordinating and teaching renters’ rights classes through St. Vincent De Paul. Catherine’s many service activities included work at Sponsors’ legal clinic and Oregon Law’s Domestic Violence Clinic.

Oregon Law also recognized the law student in each class who did the most pro bono legal work. For the 2018-19 academic year, these awards went to 1L Sarah Osborn, 2L Lydia Schlitt, and 3L Morganne Ashley.

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