University of Oregon School of Law

University of Oregon School of Law
1221 University of Oregon
Eugene, OR 97403

Law School Pro Bono Programs

Contact Information

Tom Lininger
Director of Public Interest Program
P: (541) 346-3852

Category Type

Formal Voluntary Pro Bono Program Characterized by a Referral System with Coordinator.

Description of Programs

Through the School of Law's Pro Bono Certificate Program, started in 1996, students are encouraged to perform at least 40 hours of law-related pro bono work after completing their first semester and before graduation. A Pro Bono Executive Board comprised of faculty and students, implements the school's student pro bono program. The students are selected by the Student Bar Association and the faculty members are appointed by the Dean. The Board pays one student to help coordinate the efforts and to help identify key pro bono opportunities that may interest specific interest groups. See

The Board provides a current list of local organizations that accept pro bono volunteers and access to the Public Service Law Network. It encourages students to arrange their own pro bono situations. Board members promote opportunities through emails, bi-annual open houses with speakers, the pro bono challenge with eye-catching stickers and slogans, expanded group projects such as Street Law, articles and an award ceremony. The Board is available to answer student questions about how to contact organizations.

The Associate Director for Career Services serves as the Director of the Pro Bono Program and Chairs the Executive Board, tallies pro bono hours, orders certificates of completion, relays names to the Administration for recognition at graduation, and serves on the local county bar pro bono committee. She acts as the law school liaison between the law school Pro Bono Board and community organizations that hire law students for pro bono work.

Location of Programs

Career Services Office


The Associate Director for Career Services is also the Pro Bono Program Director. In this capacity, the Associate Director chairs the Pro Bono Executive Board, comprised of two additional faculty members and nine law students. Pro Bono records are maintained in the Career Services Office.


Operated and funded through the Career Services budget, the budget for the pro bono program is approximately $5,000 annually. In addition, the Pro Bono Committee receives secretarial support, work space, computers (where necessary) and funding through the Career Services Office.

Faculty members are provided a faculty expense allowance which may, in their discretion, be used for expenditures related to pro bono service.

This year, the VITA program secured a $50.00 gift from BARBRI to help defray additional program costs.

Student Run Pro Bono Groups/Specialized Law Education Projects

Oregon Innocence Project - In collaboration with the University's Journalism School, law students review inmate claims of "actual innocence," and help inmates pursue exoneration.

Street Law Program - Street Law is a program focused on teaching legal principles to community members in a straight forward, easy-to-understand manner. The goal of the program is to offer legal information to community members who are interested in a broad overview of their rights, as well as to reach out to segments of the community who may have difficulty obtaining the information elsewhere. Classes include: Search and Seizure (in English and Spanish); Landlord/Tenant Law (in English and Spanish); Gay and Lesbian Legal Issues; Legal Research for Lay Persons; Juvenile Law at the John Serbu Youth Center; and Domestic Violence Advocacy through a Court Watch Program, an undergraduate education class, and a Mock Trial class for high school students.

Volunteer Income Tax Association (VITA) - The Pro Bono Board coordinates online training with the IRS Taxpayer Education Program. Students become licensed tax preparers and, in collaboration with the University's Lundquist College of Business students, provide tax assistance to low-income, elderly and other taxpayers who qualify for assistance.

Faculty and Administrative Pro Bono

There is no formal faculty pro bono policy.

Faculty are significantly involved in the development and oversight of all the current student pro bono group projects.


The Pro Bono Executive Board hosts an annual recognition ceremony, honoring all who perform pro bono, and awarding special certificates to those who perform over 100, 200, 300, and 400 hours of pro bono. Where appropriate, the Board will honor a student whose work has made an observable impact. The ceremony includes food, wine, and motivational speakers.

Students earning a pro bono certificate (40+ hours of legal pro bono) receive mention in the graduation bulletin.

The Pro Bono Executive Board publishes an annual Newsletter highlighting the accomplishments of student pro bono performers.

Community Service

The Women's Law Forum coordinates an annual clothing drive for women in shelter care.

Phi Alpha Delta, the service fraternity, sponsors a number of service projects throughout the year. These projects include two blood drives and a food drive, as well as encouraging students to get involved in local Teen Court and SMART reading programs.

Beginning in 2004, the Public Interest/Public Service Program (PIPs) began coordinating a Saturday Public Service Day, engaging law students and faculty to visit various non-profit organizations to undertake service projects. PIPS has also begun coordinating an annual food drive, assembling multiple food baskets from many student groups, for low income families in the Eugene community.

The Minority Law Students Association sponsors a mentoring program, in which MLSA members mentor low income or at-risk students in local elementary schools.

Law School Public Interest Programs

Contact Information

Tom Lininger
Director of Public Interest Program
P: (541) .346-3852

Certificate/Curriculum Programs

Law students may earn a Public Interest and Public Service Law (PIPS) Certificate upon graduation by performing 100 hours of public service, 40 of which must be legal pro bono, attending six hours of public service seminars and taking a cluster of public service classes, including a clinic. For information, see , or contact Professor Tom Lininger, at 541 346-3662, Other specialty certificates can be earned in various fields, including Environmental and Natural Resources Law, Ocean and Coastal Law and Criminal Law. Statements of Completion require successful completion ("C" grade or better) of a number of designated courses in each specialty field. Statements of Completion generally require successful completion of an academic research paper of high professional quality concerning the specialty subject matter. Information on Statements of Completion can be located at

Public Interest Centers

The Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics - The Wayne Morse Center for Law and Politics is an independent center housed at the Law School. The Center's mission is to stimulate interdisciplinary research and discussion on topics that Morse championed, including education, civil liberties, constitutional law and the rights of working men and women. The Center's Advisory Board selects themes of inquiry, and sponsors a range of scholarly activities, classes and community events that relate to these broader themes. Each year, the Morse Center awards scholarships to selected students of the law school. Fellows are selected on the basis fo scholastic merit and their demonstrated interest in public service in the tradition of Senator Wayne Morse.

The Ocean and Coastal Law Center - The Center is dedicated to research and education in the law and regulations that concern and affect the uses of the ocean, its resources, and the coastal zone. Located in the university's William W. Knight Law Center, it combines the efforts of law faculty specialties and advanced law students to research and analyze current ocean and coastal law topics and to publish the results of this research in books and law journals and on the Center's website. In addition, the Center offers three elective programs through which law students can develop a specialty in the field of ocean and coastal law. The Center's research and educational activities are greatly assisted by its specialized, professionally managed library collection. The collection is housed in the John E. Jaqua Law Library and is one of only a few special collections of marine legal affairs publications in the country. Materials held in this collection are included in the UO libraries catalog, which is searchable on the web. The Center librarian regularly posts recent acquisitions lists and "Recent Articles in Marine Legal Affairs" bibliographies to the collection's website, For more information, see

Appropriate Dispute Resolution Program - In 2000, the University of Oregon School of Law started a program in Appropriate Dispute Resolution, expanding its prior offerings and developing new opportunities for students, scholars, ADR practitioners, legal professionals and the public. The Program has expanded course offerings in ADR and integrated ADR into many traditional subjects such as Civil Procedure, Torts, Hazardous Waste and Consumer Law. It also supports faculty scholarship in conflict resolution, holds conferences open to the public and profession, has instituted training programs in mediation and negotiation, and encourages trained students to volunteer in the community to improve access to justice and dispute resolution services. The Program has provided the 30 hour Basic Mediation Training to over 200 law students. The Program also administers grants to the 21 community mediation programs throughout the state. A new Masters degree in Conflict and Dispute Resolution enrolled its first students in the fall of 2005. For information, see

The Environmental and Natural Resources Law Program - Over three decades ago, the University of Oregon established one of the first environmental law programs in the country. A third of our faculty members teach in the environmental area and produce research and analysis that is used by government agencies, courts, tribes, public interest organizations and policymakers. Law faculty members have founded key public interest organizations, such as the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide and the Western Environmental Law Center. Faculty members also serve in advisory roles to help federal agencies shape policy on ocean and coastal law, environmental justice and environmental issues affecting native nations. Key programming includes the Environmental Law Clinic, Externships, the Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation and Western Environmental Law Update. Land Air Water is the nation's oldest student environmental law society, and a vibrant student involvement in the ENR Program guarantees a dynamic Annual Public Interest Law Conference, the premier annual gathering for environmentalists worldwide. The oldest and largest conference of its kind, the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference brings more than 4000 activists, attorneys, students, scientists and concerned citizens from over 50 countries to share their experience and expertise. For information, see

Public Interest Public Service Program (PIPS) - PIPS is an organization led by a faculty director and governed by a student and faculty board. Its express mission is to promote scholarship and public service participation throughout the law school. The faculty director is appointed by the Dean. PIPS sponsors nationally renowned speakers, an annual public service conference, public service outreach and is a clearinghouse for volunteer opportunities and information. PIPS coordinates with other public service law school groups and programs to deliver high quality programming and public service opportunities.

Public Interest Clinics

Civil Practice Clinic - Students represent low-income clients through Lane County Legal Aid. Cases may result in court or contested case hearings, often involving social security, welfare, food stamp, public housing or unemployment benefits.

Criminal Defense Clinic - Students conduct client and witness interviews and investigations and help defend clients in a range of misdemeanor prosecutions in Circuit Court through the Public Defender Service of Lane County. Students may defend cases at trial, and Advanced Clinic Students are accorded higher levels of responsibilities.

Domestic Violence/Family Law Clinic - Students work with Lane County Domestic Violence Clinic Attorneys and client advocates to represent survivors of domestic violence and stalking, in contested protective order hearings.

Environmental Law Clinic - The Environmental Law Clinic, the first public interest environmental law clinic in the world, has achieved national recognition for its extraordinary teaching and client representation in public interest advocacy. Taught through the off-campus Western Environmental Law Center, it has attracted a great deal of interest among foreign lawyers in observing and participating in its work.

Mediation Clinic - After mediation training, students spend one morning each week working in the local small claims court, helping disputants to search for nonlitigation solutions to their problems. Provides practical experience mediating claims.

Prosecution Clinic - Provides practical experience in the courtroom. Students prepare and try misdemeanor cases, and may assist on felony matters.


The Law School sponsors the following field placements for academic credit:

  • State Supreme,Tax and Appellate Courts;
  • United States Courts of Appeal and United States District Courts;
  • United States Bankruptcy Court;
  • United States Bankruptcy Trustee;
  • State Administrative Agencies that write opinions.

Additional public interest field placements include positions with the Environmental Law Alliance Worldwide.

Classes with a Public Service Component

Legislative Issues Workshop - In addition to class sessions, students work for a legislator during Oregon's bi-annual legislative session. Contact Assistant Dean Merv Loya, E-mail or 541/346-3887.

Public Interest Journals

Journal of Environmental Law and Litigation --

Western Environmental Law Update --

PI Career Support Center

The office is a member of the Northwest Consortium of Law Schools, and annually co-sponsors the Northwest Public Service Career Fair, bringing in a large number of public service employers for table talk and interviews. The fair, held in February, has sites in both Portland, OR and Seattle, WA.

The Career Service Office provides a range of public interest support services including Public Interest Month, public interest speakers, and workshops on fellowships, judicial clerkships, judicial externships, and government, policy, and public interest careers. The Office also has a public interest careers section in our career services library, which includes current resources.

Loan Repayment Assistance Programs (LRAP)

For a description see,

Post-Graduate Fellowships/Awards

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

None listed

Term Time Fellowships/Scholarships

Law School Funded:

None listed

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

Funds are offered through the Federal Work Study Program.

Summer Fellowships

Law School Funded:

Oregon Law Students' Public Interest Fund (OLSPIF) is a student organization that raises funds for a stipend program that places University of Oregon law students in public interest law jobs for a summer. All students enrolled at the School of Law who dedicate ten hours volunteering for OLSPIF functions are eligible to receive summer stipends for public interest work. Last year fundraising activities raised $20,000 and provided stipends for ten students.

Graduate Student Funded:

None listed

Other Funding Sources:

Oregon Law Students' Public Interest Fund (OLSPIF) is a student organization that raises funds for a stipend program that places University of Oregon law students in public interest law jobs for a summer. All students enrolled at the School of Law who dedicate ten hours volunteering for OLSPIF functions are eligible to apply for summer stipends for public interest work. In addition, approximately six students used Federal Work Study funds to support otherwise unpaid public interest jobs. Three students received stipends from Friends of Land Air Water, a 501 (c)(3) organization that supports the student group, Land Air Water.

Extracurricular and Co-Curricular Programs

Oregon Trial Lawyers - Sponsored by Career Services, this group presented on access to justice issues, and the life of a trial attorney advocating for justice.

Street Law Orientation - Fall meeting to introduce new students to Street Law, and the various opportunities to teach.

Fellowship Workshop - Fall session to teach 2L and 3L students about fellowship opportunities, resources, application procedures and more.

Presidential Management Fellowship Program - Session designed to introduce students to the PMF program, the application and interview process.

Public Interest Careers - Session as part of Career Services "Public Interest Month," in which students are introduced to varied public interest careers. Includes separate sessions on: Legal Services; Government Careers; Judicial Clerkships, and more.

State Trial Court Clerkships - Session introduces students to post-graduate judicial clerkships at the state trial court level, including local and out of jurisdiction opportunities, search resources and job search advice.

Federal Court Clerkships - Introduces students to the judicial clerkship application process for federal courts at the circuit, district, magistrate and bankruptcy court levels.

Labor and Employment Law Center (LERC) - Situated close to the law school, LERC hosted employment law session.

The O'Connell Conference - Professor Tom Lininger (E-mail) helps coordinate this annual judicial conference, attended by judges from the US Circuit and District Courts, and other appellate courts.

Public Interest Public Service Program - Each October, PIPS sponsors an annual Conference, "Against the Grain," hosting speakers, panel sessions and a keynote on varied public interest topics. PIPS also hosts at least three high-profile, national level speakers each year. Such visits most often include a career chat, participation in a classroom lecture, and a public evening lecture.

Coalition Against Environmental Racism (CAER) - Each spring, CAER hosts an environmental justice conference for students, professors, activists, churches, government, and any other interested individuals, to learn about environmental justice. Its website is:

Land Air Water - The first weekend in March, LAW sponsors the Public Interest Environmental Law Conference, the nation's oldest and largest such conference. Over 4000 participants, including international advocates, lawyers, citizens and law students join together in this student-planned and hosted event. The Conference features over 300 panelists and speakers.

Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund (OLSPIF) - OLSPIF features an annual fall fundraiser, and its annual February auction to raise funds for students who will work in non-paid public interest jobs.

Water Rights Conference - The Environment and Natural Resources Program (ENR) hosted this conference in Fall, 2004.

Women's Law Forum - WLF hosts an annual conference each year concerning womens' issues.

Student Public Interest Groups

Coalition Against Environmental Racism (CAER)

Land Air Water

Oregon Innocence Project

Oregon Law Students Public Interest Fund

Phi Alpha Delta

Public Interest Public Service Program

Womens Law Forum

August 6, 2018