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What category of volunteer work is best for someone who is interested in studying law?

Volunteering is really important to me, before COVID I was volunteering every week through an organization for children and families facing magical challenges. I am still doing projects and teaching through Zoom with them but I am also really interested in adding another volunteer opportunity and I think it would be amazing for it to some how connect to law. What would you recommend?
#law #lawyers #career #volunteer #student #students #volunteering #covid


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Ro’s Answer

I also have a background in law (NY), and was excited to see your enthusiasm for volunteer work. You could search for volunteer and pro bono opportunities by scanning the local Bar Association website. I love Portland, and have met some amazing people from the area, and advocacy for rights seems to be an important issue in the area.
Here are some volunteer centers that the Oregon State Bar is associated with - you could read up on each opportunity to see which matches your passions the most: https://www.osbar.org/probono/VolunteerOpportunities.html
There seems to be more than a few organizations that are involved with families (you had mentioned you volunteered in that area). If you're thinking of practicing law outside the state, you could also consider some national organizations (ex: CASA, ACLU) which could assist you in possible future opportunities as well.
It's great to see law students that are studying law to assist the community and families. I hope you find a volunteer opportunity that is in line with your interests. Best of luck to you in your search for volunteering and your law career!


Thank you! olive P.

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Athena’s Answer

It is great to see you have a passion for volunteerism. Studying law is a natural connection. I understand the challenges with volunteering during COVID-19. My opportunities have been less frequent too. I am in CA so I don't have any referrals for OR but here are some thoughts. Are you planning on going to law school or just studying law? Law schools accept students from all majors, so I’m not sure whether it’s important to have law-oriented volunteer experience to get into law school if that is the goal. Most fields consider volunteerism important. If it is important to you don't let any study dim that passion.

If you want to volunteer to find out whether or not you want to be a lawyer – or what kind of law to practice – you may consider looking for volunteer opportunities in the following work places:

- Prosecutor’s office
- Public defender’s office
- Pro bono legal clinic (e.g., Legal Aid Society, tenant/housing law advocate)
- Human rights clinic (e.g., Equal Justice Initiative)
- Children’s rights advocate (e.g., Voices for Children)
- Animal rights advocate

Volunteerism will show your interest in advocating for others, especially those who are disenfranchised. It will give you a taste of what litigation is like – even if you end up as a corporate lawyer in a Fortune 10 company. I can't speak to opportunities leading to you becoming a transactional attorney as I don't support any. The volunteer opportunities and experiences will also help you decide if becoming a Paralegal or Secretary are alternative options for you.

Have you done a search for other organizations that are taking new volunteers at this time? I would think an organization like Hands on Greater Portland (handsonportland.org) who help families in legal situations may be a place to look into.

I hope that was helpful. Best wishes!

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Athena’s Answer

It is great to see you have a passion for volunteerism. Studying law is a natural connection. I understand the challenges with volunteering during COVID-19. My opportunities have been less frequent too. I am in CA so I don't have any referrals for OR but here are some thoughts. Are you planning on going to law school or just studying law? Law schools accept students from all majors, so I’m not sure whether it’s important to have law-oriented volunteer experience to get into law school if that is the goal. Most fields consider volunteerism important. If it is important to you don't let any study dim that passion.

If you want to volunteer to find out whether or not you want to be a lawyer – or what kind of law to practice – you may consider looking for volunteer opportunities in the following work places:

- Prosecutor’s office
- Public defender’s office
- Pro bono legal clinic (e.g., Legal Aid Society, tenant/housing law advocate)
- Human rights clinic (e.g., Equal Justice Initiative)
- Children’s rights advocate (e.g., Voices for Children)
- Animal rights advocate

Volunteerism will show your interest in advocating for others, especially those who are disenfranchised. It will give you a taste of what litigation is like – even if you end up as a corporate lawyer in a Fortune 10 company. I can't speak to opportunities leading to you becoming a transactional attorney as I don't support any. The volunteer opportunities and experiences will also help you decide if becoming a Paralegal or Secretary are alternative options for you.

Have you done a search for other organizations that are taking new volunteers at this time? I would think an organization like Hands on Greater Portland (handsonportland.org) who help families in legal situations may be a place to look into.

I hope that was helpful. Best wishes!

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Rick’s Answer

It's great you have such a dedication to volunteering. You can reach out to the local public defenders office to see if they accept volunteers or can put you in touch with lawyers or law firms that do so. It may be helpful to attend a trial at a local courthouse if you have time prior to contacting them. This will give you some insight to how trials proceed and shows interest. Your local federal or state legislator's office is also a possibility. They often can use additional help and it will expose you to the policy and legislative aspect of the law.

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Alexandra’s Answer

Look for legal advocacy and non profit legal groups in your community. Many organizations offer free legal services to low income people, asylum seekers, etc. and are looking for volunteers. You might also check the bar association pro bono job listings to see what is available as volunteer opportunities.

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Ryan’s Answer

During high school I volunteered at the county attorney's office. My school counselor helped me make the connection because I was considering studying law in college. Public defenders and prosecutors were very open to the help because they are typically overloaded with cases. This gave me the opportunity to assist with trial preparation, watch the juror selection process, and sit in on certain trials. In addition to learning a lot it also really helped me understand if my passion was in civil court or if I should pursue corporate law.

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