Making connections with clients and understanding the impact you can have on their lives is not something that is typically taught in law school courses. As a summer associate at Crag Law Center, I have a very exciting opportunity to gain first-hand experience working with clients. While researching and writing are skills which I will undoubtedly improve upon during my time at Crag, it is the client connections and interactions that I find the most beneficial to my legal training.
During my first week I had the benefit of joining Staff Attorney Courtney Johnson on a trip to McMinnville to attend a Yamhill County Board of Commissioners Public Hearing. At this hearing the Board decided to allow a permit application for a proposed gravel mine on nearby Grand Island to go forward. This proposed gravel mine is of special concern to Crag clients Protect Grand Island Farms. If completed, this gravel mine will seriously impact the operations and livelihood of the many family-owned farms on Grand Island.
After the hearing Courtney and I were invited to join some of the farmers for lunch on one of the farms that will be impacted by the proposed gravel operation. We were generously welcomed and well fed with delicious organic veggies from Oakhill Organics and other local fare. It was a perfect sunny day for dining outdoors under a big shady tree. I had the opportunity to get to know the clients and to understand what is important to them. Seeing the site of the proposed mine and recognizing the real impacts it will have on these farmers gave me perspective on the importance of the work that Crag is doing for these clients. Making these real connections with clients is what public interest legal work is all about.
I am grateful to have the opportunity to be a part of Crag’s legacy of teaching students like myself to be engaged and passionate advocates for the communities of the Pacific Northwest in their fight to protect and preserve our natural environment. I look forward to making more of these important client connections over my summer experience.