Legal Aid Clinics on Campus, Filling Gaps in Student Access
by S.C. Taulbee
The Portland Community College (PCC) Paralegal department has multiple upcoming events designed to serve the community by reducing barriers to equitable access to legal services. The events are free and open to the public, but some preparation may be required for participation.
February 22nd at Rock Creek campus, the Paralegal program and the DREAMer’s Resource Center host the DACA renewal clinic from 10am-4pm. With the Supreme Court set to make a final ruling this year about the status of DACA, the clinic, with volunteer law professionals there to help, will provide services to help update and renew DACA applications.
On February 24th, from 2-5pm at PCC Cascade, Terrell Hall, room 112, the PCC Paralegal department, in conjunction with Metropolitan Public Defender Community Law, is hosting a free expungement clinic where participants can receive help having past records expunged. This event is on a first-come-first-served basis.
March 11th is the program’s first-ever event called the Name and Gender Marker Clinic. Students are offered legal assistance in altering their state IDs and birth certificates, and other official documentation to accurately reflect their name changes and gender identity.
March 13th, 2020 will be the third Legal Services Day hosted by the PCC Paralegal department. Leni Tupper, Co-Chair of the Paralegal program, volunteered at the Rosewood Initiative–a low-income housing authority–where they had sponsored a similar event, Tupper saw a resource that could be offered to the North Portland community as well. With the help of her colleague, Paralegal Program Specialist, Diana Blake, they brought the program to PCC for the inaugural event in March 2019. The event was a success, and in September they held another Legal Services Day, helping community members have more than $380,000 in legal fees waived. Tupper describes the mood at these events as “celebratory.” At September’s event, organizers crafted a charity-style thermometer to track the amount of money recipients of the legal services were saving and having forgiven.
“You shouldn’t have to be superhuman to overcome barriers to access,” Tupper says of the events. She began as a volunteer at a Legal Services day at the Rosewood Initiative in East Portland, and recognized a need for a similar event in her community. She and the rest of the event’s staff are passionate about spreading the word about the services they are providing to those who would go without otherwise. “We put the community in community college,” Tupper says.
Students may learn more information about participating in or volunteering for these events by emailing Leni Tupper at firstname.lastname@example.org.