Second and third-year law students interested in the legal needs of private individuals and businesses in the environmental and natural resources fields can gain practical skills through work with the Western Resources Legal Center (WRLC), a Portland-based non-profit organization. Under the supervision of WRLC’s director/staff attorney, students will interview and counsel clients, conduct fact investigations, problem solve, draft documents, negotiate agreements, and represent clients at administrative hearings, trials and appeals. WRLC represents individuals and small businesses engaged in farming, ranching, forestry, dairy production, mining, and land developments as well as small, local governments, water and irrigation districts and other entities dependent on natural resource use and development. Areas of student work may include: water quality, grazing, wildlife, forestry, land use and zoning, transactions related to natural resource use, mining, and property rights issues. Students will also gain exposure to local practitioners and industry leaders and operators.
This course offers two placement options:
WRLC Internship (Course Number 786)
Students placed internally will work directly on WRLC cases under the supervision of the full-time WRLC attorney. WRLC students are required to attend and participate in a weekly two-hour class. Students do not complete the 9-10 hours a week at the WRLC office. Rather, students may work independently on assigned class work. Students are required to complete a writing requirement, such as work on a brief, or a memo to a client. In most cases, the writing requirement can fulfill the WIE writing requirement. Students assigned to work on WRLC cases are required to attend and participate in a weekly two-hour class that will cover general legal skills, overview of relevant substantive law, and discussion of cases in progress. Class size is limited to 3-5 students.
WRLC Field Placement (Course Number 794)
Students in field placements work directly for legal counsel for a natural resources organization such as the American Forest Resource Council, Oregon Concrete and Aggregate Producers Association, Oregon Cattlemen's Association, and Oregon Farm Bureau. Students assigned to a natural resources organization are expected to work in their placements 9-10 hours per week and are required to attend a separate weekly two-hour class covering general legal skills, practical skills, and issues related to placements.
Both courses are 4-credit, Credit/No Credit courses with no final examination. To successfully earn academic credit, students are expected to spend approximately 9-10 hours per week working on WRLC matters to the satisfaction of the supervising attorney.
The advanced course is a two-credit pass/no pass seminar offered to qualified and interested WRLC students during semesters where caseload and legal work allow. Only students that have completed the WRLC Internship and have the professor's approval may apply to take this course.
Advanced students assist in teaching the WRLC Internship and are responsible for making some presentations to the class. Given the student participation with teaching the WRLC Internship, there is a component of lecture time. The primary focus of this course, however, is the opportunity to work on advanced legal projects. Students work under the direct supervision of the WRLC attorney and are required to attend strategy meetings with co-counsel and/or the supervising attorneys.
Application Process For All Courses
Submit a letter of interest, an unofficial transcript, a resume and writing sample either by email or hard copy to:
Western Resources Legal Center
Caroline Lobdell, Executive Director
5100 SW Macadam, Suite 350
Portland, Oregon 97239
Your application must indicate which semester you are applying for, or if you are open to placement either semester. Please include your name, contact information, year in law school, and reasons for your interest in working with WRLC. If you have a preference regarding field placement options, please indicate that in your cover letter.
The specific work assigned often depends on individual student interest, skill set, and level. To date, students have worked on an amicus brief before the United States Supreme Court, a Ninth Circuit Court Appeal, motions for summary judgment and supporting memorandum, and various other court pleadings and legal memoradums. Students should indicate in their letter of interests any preferences for the type of course work to be assigned. WRLC will try to accommodate such preferences as much as possible.
For conflict check purposes, each candidate must also specify work (paid or unpaid) or any other clinics being applied for that may pose a conflict.