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In collaboration with caseworkers and advocates, Community Law attorneys remove barriers and lighten the path forward for people living in poverty. In so doing, the intent is to transform the justice system where it criminalizes poverty, mental illness, addiction and trauma so that it equitably and compassionately alleviates the social determinants of contact with the justice system.
By providing a holistic, collaborative, person-centered model that is equally prepared to address criminal and civil legal issues, we can not only increase the likelihood of positive outcomes for clients, we can fundamentally change the criminal, social service and health care systems in which we operate. Our collaborative approach involves partnering with teams and organizations who are already advocating for the person. Such teams may be in the social service, community health or public defense worlds, but the thing they all have in common is that they want the best for the person and have often developed the person’s goals and desired outcomes. What they don’t have is the legal skill set to be able to remove barriers, navigate legal obstacles or even the playing field against a corporation or government agency. We coordinate and work together with the existing team to do whatever we can as lawyers to help meet the person’s goals and desired outcomes. Sometimes that will mean representation on a legal case, but often it will mean negotiating a non-legal matter or navigating an increasingly complex bureaucracy to obtain basic rights and benefits. This is what we mean by person-centered: our scope of work is defined by the client’s goals rather than a legal case. We are driven by the overarching goal of making a positive, measurable difference in people's lives.
Community Law has a huge number of projects and partnerships. Some of them include:
Immigrant Defense Oregon
Multnomah Stability Initiative
The Expungement Clinic
Clean Slate and Legal Services Day
Early Intervention for Justice-Involved Women
New Avenues For Youth and the Homeless Youth Continuum