Give Young Lawyers Practical Skills Through Public Service

Volume 37, Number 1

by

Melissa J. Healy is an Assistant Editor of The Affiliate and an Associate in the Portland, Oregon, office of Barran Liebman.

The Oregon New Lawyers Division (ONLD) recently launched its “Practical Skills Through Public Service Program” (PSPS) to help new attorneys within the state tackle their most pressing challenge: how to begin a successful legal career in the current economic climate. NALP’s recently released employment report shows that only 87.6% of 2010 law school graduates are employed and an even smaller percentage (68.4%) are working in jobs that require bar passage. These statistics are unsurprising to many given that in recent years law firms have decreased or eliminated summer associate programs, local governments have reduced staff because of budget cuts, and nonprofits have experienced declines in donations and government funding.

With the number of available legal positions at a historic low, PSPS is designed to give inexperienced and unemployed volunteer attorneys the opportunity to receive training and perform pro bono legal work through participating government agencies and nonprofit organizations. To that end, the program links participants to (1) existing opportunities with legal aid programs that provide basic civil and family law representation and (2) new opportunities with criminal representation organizations. The program also offers free subject-specific CLE sessions for participants through either the ONLD or participating agencies.

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