ONLD Practical Skills

The Practical Skills Through Public Service Program (PSPS)

The PSPS Program was created in the summer of 2011 by members of the Oregon New Lawyers Division (ONLD) in an effort to address the effects of the staggering economy on our legal community. Many young lawyers are graduating law school without employment prospects and lacking practical skills for this profession. Opportunities for new lawyers to gain practical skills by working at law firms have become scarce as law firms are downsizing, or have been unable to spend their resources in training young lawyers. Concurrently non-profit organizations and government agencies have suffered from ongoing budget cuts and therefore a loss of personnel and fewer services to the community.

In recognizing this trend the ONLD formed PSPS to provide unemployed and underemployed lawyers with crucial practical skills while helping non-profit and government organizations by providing personnel that they have been unable to afford. The PSPS Program matches young lawyer volunteers with participating organizations in which they are interested. Through this program young lawyers work on projects assigned by an organization, which may include working on cases, meeting with clients, participating in court hearings, and so forth.

The PSPS Program gained popularity nationwide when it was named the 2011 American Bar Association Project of the Year. PSPS serves as a model program for other states also suffering from a declining economy in the legal field.


The PSPS Program is accepting young lawyers throughout the year to fill vacancies as they come up. In addition to the year-long program, PSPS will continue its tradition of holding a large round of placements in the fall of each year.

If you are interested in joining the PSPS program please supply the following information to

  • Contact information (bar #, name, phone number, and email address)
  • Cover letter describing your interest in this program
  • Resume
  • List of five organizations of interest in preference order (refer to the list below of current and previous organizations)


The following is a list of non-profit organizations and government agencies that are either current or previous participants in PSPS:

City & County Governments:
Beaverton City Attorney’s Office
Clackamas County Court
Linn County District Attorney's Office
Multnomah County Attorney’s Office
Multnomah County Court
Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office
Office of Metro Attorneys
Salem City Attorney’s Office
Washington County Attorneys' Office

Family Law:
St. Andrew Legal Clinic
Washington County Family Law Facilitator’s Office
Youth Rights & Justice (YRJ)

Immigration Services:
Catholic Charities Immigration Legal Services
Immigration Counseling Services
SOAR Immigration Legal Services

Other Organizations:
Citizens Utility Board
Legal Aid Services of Oregon in Albany
Northwest Workers' Justice Project
Oregon Tax Court
Victim Rights Law Center

Public Defense:
Metropolitan Public Defender (MPD)
Multnomah Defense Inc.
Public Defender’s Office of Lane County

All organizations or government entities interested in joining PSPS should contact for more information.

Malpractice coverage for Professional Liability Fund – Please contact the Professional Liability Fund regarding coverage and exemption status. A few organizations may provide this coverage without charge for volunteers providing services through their organization.


With the enthusiasm and hard work from both the young lawyer volunteers and the participating organizations, PSPS has helped young lawyers gain experiences and make connections in our legal community that they may not have otherwise attained on their own. Many of our hard working volunteers have described the PSPS as having given them an opportunity that they would have otherwise not found.

Evan Novotny, 2016 volunteer with Multnomah County Courthouse
Whether you have a desire to work long-term in public service or not, the PSPS program is one of the most invaluable opportunities new lawyers have in this job market. As a new attorney coming from another state, I've been able to network via local bar associations, but this program has allowed me to show off my skills in a professional environment to a host of local attorneys who can recommend me in my job search. I receive regular feedback from the county attorneys, which has helped me grow more confident and pushed me to work even harder. The work environment is positive and encouraging, and I recently negotiated for a contract job that I know I got thanks to the attorney I've become in my volunteer position. I am incredibly grateful to be a part of the PSPS program and cannot recommend it highly enough to other new attorneys.”

Joel Sturm, 2012 volunteer with the City of Beaverton
This experience has been pivotal in my ongoing job search. I have focused my search to litigation firms and I can present and discuss a host of skills I have developed throughout this experience that makes me more valuable as a potential associate. From conducting jury trials to preparing and presenting advisory reports to Police. I have enjoyed a confidence that comes from understanding the work I am doing is valuable to others and to myself; if I enjoy the work I do when I am not getting paid for it then I have chosen a rewarding professional path. I can attribute satisfaction with my career outlook as well as confidence that I can be successful in my career to the PSPS experience.”

Lauren Moser, 2012 volunteer with the Multnomah County Courthouse
“The skills I learned during my time volunteering were invaluable and, I'm sure, one of the reasons I was hired full-time. Through the PSPS program I was actually working with people at the Courthouse and was able to show my new contacts my legal skills and make a favorable professional impression on them, which was invaluable when later finding a job. Now those professional contacts have seen firsthand that I am ready, willing, and able to do the work needed to be a successful lawyer.”