Oregon Child Advocacy Project
Child Advocacy Externship
3 or 6 Credits
Instructors: Leslie Harris and Field Instructors
Click here for details.
This externship allows students to work with a juvenile and family court judge or a senior juvenile law attorney for eight weeks during the summer. Currently, students may work half-time for judges in Multnomah, Linn and Astoria County or full time at Juvenile Rights Project or Child-Centered Solutions in Portland. The judges are all well-respected judges who are quite active in statewide juvenile law reform work and who have a demonstrated interest in working with students. Juvenile Rights Project is the only law firm in Oregon that represents exclusively children; in addition to representing children in juvenile court dependency and delinquency cases, attorneys also do substantial law reform work. Child-Centered Solutions is a private, nonprofit law firm appointed to represent children in high-conflict private custody disputes.
“The Child Advocacy Externship has been a great experience. I really enjoyed working in Linn County for Judge Murphy, he was an excellent mentor… I liked sitting in the front of the courtroom, because the lawyers, PO’s and DHS workers became friendly with me, and we would talk during breaks. I felt like a part of the process being in the front close to the action, as opposed to sitting in the back. Judge Murphy provided ample time for my questions, and took me to several meeting that gave me insight into the system as a whole.”
“I thoroughly enjoyed this externship and feel honored to have had the experience. The externship clearly made the law come alive for me–it was thrilling to sit in the family courtroom, watching the proceedings, contemplating the various different roles of the people at the table (including the clients), reading the case files and discussing the cases with the Judge. In fact, I wish I could have had more time to spend in the court.”
“Independence was one of the greatest strengths of my externship at JRP. … Most, if not all my assignments were offered as starting places from which I could begin and the outcome was entirely up to me. For me, this approach was especially helpful because I am often times shy and introverted. Giving me just enough guidance to start, then forcing me to stand on my own two feet was very good for me. It gave me a confidence I would not likely have earned in just one summer anywhere else. In addition, I felt a huge sense of responsibility. Clients were my own. Project deadlines and workload were managed by me. Every day was my own and in a lot of ways, I felt like my own boss.”
“The introductory class was a helpful crash course in child advocacy. It provided scaffolding from which to build more specific knowledge during my externship. The conference calls were key to creating an optimal learning experience. The chief limitation of the externship is that the student works only with one judge, as all judges have different attitudes and approaches. The opportunity to speak to other students, and gain insight into the way the judges they worked with view the law, greatly diminished this limitation. The conference calls also provide an opportunity to hear the other students’ views on the important issues brought up during the externship. It was very helpful to hear my fellow externs insights into issues such as the role of a child advocate and the way the law should treat juvenile delinquents.”
What Does a Student Extern Do?
Each student placed with a judge acts as the judge’s clerk, doing research, preparing for hearings, contacting counsel as needed, and observing initial hearings, trials, settlement conferences, and review hearings. He or she also does a major law reform project at the direction of the judge.
The student at Juvenile Rights Project works with a senior attorney who is involved in a significant law reform project. The student helps prepare cases, observes court proceedings, and, if a third-year student, appears in court. He or she also works on the law reform project, which may involve legal and factual investigation, as well as analysis and writing.
Each extern keeps a journal of his or her experiences and submits that journal, along with written work products, to the faculty supervisor each week.
All externs meet with the faculty supervisor before the externship begins to review juvenile court practice in Oregon. Thereafter, they meet every two weeks as a group with the faculty supervisor to discuss their experiences and issues that have arisen during their field placements.
What Are the Prerequisites and How Do I Apply?
Applicants must have completed 30 hours of law school credits with a cumulative average of 2.0 or better. At least half the externs in any year have just finished their first year of law school.
Each spring in February or March Professor Harris will send out a request for applications on the law school listserv.
Externs will be chosen based on their demonstrated interest in child advocacy work, including past experiences and future plans, as well as academic performance. Preference will be given to students who have completed Children and the Law.