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Rising 2L Jackie Sandmeyer awarded Shepherd Legal Scholarship »

Jackie Sandmeyer works full-time and goes to law school, dedicating most days to the LGBTQ community and constantly striving to find ways to give back.

“Whether that be offering up my time to work with LGBTQ people with complex safety and legal concerns, or advocating for increased services or better policy to serve that population,” Sandmeyer explained. “Being someone with no family or traditional support network, I wouldn’t be where I am today if it wasn’t for community, so I try to give that back.”

Sandmeyer, a rising second-year, part-time Willamette Law student, was named one of the recipients of the Shepherd Legal Scholarship at the “A Class Act” benefit April 28. The scholarship is managed by OGALLA: The LGBT Bar Association of Oregon and awarded by the Bill and Ann Shepherd Legal Scholarship committee.

Oregon law students who make a commitment to advance the equal rights and justice for lesbians, gays, bisexuals and transgender individuals are eligible for the scholarship. Other 2017 recipients included Demi Jacques and Hugo Gonzales Venegas, students from Lewis & Clark Law School in Portland, Oregon. Sandmeyer (who prefers gender-neutral pronouns) said they didn’t expect to receive the scholarship.

“I think every time you are recognized in that way, it tends to come as a surprise,” Sandmeyer said. “Being someone who came from a background of homelessness because of coming out as LGBTQ, it meant a lot to me to have a moment to acknowledge how far I’ve come in moving toward my goals.”

Willamette alumna Cierra Brown JD’15 is co-chair of OGALLA and on the scholarship committee. She said Sandmeyer will be a role model for others and exemplifies what the committee looks for in Shepherd scholars.

“From the first line of Jackie’s personal statement, the committee had no doubt we were offering them the scholarship,” Brown said. “Jackie’s story of coming out and overcoming so much, paired with the drive and passion of what they hope to achieve is not only amazing, but absolutely inspiring.”

Sandmeyer works as the campus coordinator for the Oregon Attorney General’s Sexual Assault Task Force. They provide training and Title IX and policy technical assistance to all higher education institutions in the state, clerking for firms on the side to gain additional legal experience.

After graduation in 2019, Sandmeyer hopes to practice civil law, specifically victim’s rights law focusing on civil remedies for crime victims and Title IX. They said their work is purposeful in promoting anti-violence and protections for LGBTQ people, while also amplifying the voices of those who have experienced violence.

“These types of scholarships are more than just acknowledging those on our campuses who are doing good work,” Sandmeyer said. “As a queer person of color who is also gender non-conforming, higher degrees, especially law degrees, are often seen as something unattainable. LGBTQ and students of color face barriers to being successful students that their peers never face.

“Scholarships like these make it possible for many of us to stay in school and create an environment where we can work to not only just graduate, but flourish as students.”

More information about other external scholarship opportunities can be found here on the Willamette Law website.

About the Bill and Ann Shepherd Legal Scholarship Fund

The Bill and Ann Shepherd Legal Scholarship Fund was the brainchild of the late Jeff Rose, Mr. Portland Leather 1993 and Susie Shepherd, International Ms. Leather 1989. As Rose prepared to step down from his title year in February 1994, he was determined to bequeath to the community a perpetual gift honoring the couple who had so deeply inspired him as a young gay activist, Bill and Ann Shepherd.

Bill and Ann Shepherd began a legacy of justice in 1972. In 1976, Bill founded the Portland Town Council Legal Resource Committee, forerunner of the Oregon Gay and Lesbian Law Association (OGALLA). That same year, Ann was appointed to a two-year term on then Gov. Straub’s Task Force on Sexual Preference. In 1977, with Chuck and Rita Knapp, they co-founded Parents of Gays, which later affiliated with the international organization Parents, Families and Friends of Lesbians and Gays, PFLAG.

Until his death in 1995, Bill provided low-cost legal counsel to same-sex couples who wanted to ensure their partners optimal decision making and inheritance rights. Ann “mothered” countless gays and lesbians rejected by their families and churches and worked with confused parents to heal the wounds caused by misinformation and judgmental attitudes. Ann and Bill fought every anti-gay ballot measure and candidate that crossed their path, and in 1985, the Shepherds received the first of many prestigious awards from the community, the Lucille Hart Award from the Right-to-Privacy PAC.

I Love Tamales! »

I love tamales! They are one of my favorite foods and Salem has a new “restaurant” on the west side of town serving up these delicious and delightful treats (I put restaurant in quotation marks because the restaurant is in a small kiosk – bigger than a food cart, but smaller than a Dutch Bros drive thru – outside of a local Chevron on Wallace Road). The name: Caché Tamales and Bakery. I’ll admit that I was a little apprehensive by the thought of someone selling tamales outside of a gas station, but fear not! These are some of the best tamales I have ever had. The owner of Caché, Ingrid Trujillo, makes South American-style tamales in large banana leaves. Ingrid’s customer service and friendliness was superior. We will definitely return. Here is more information about Caché in Salem’s local paper, the Statesman Journal.

Springtime in Salem »

It’s springtime in Salem, which for a few weeks in March and April means one thing: CHERRY BLOSSOMS! Nicknamed “The Cherry City,” Salem is famous for its many cherry trees, covering the State Capitol Mall, the Willamette University campus, and much of the Willamette Valley.

The blossoms have faded by now, but check out some of the dazzling views we captured in recent weeks.

Cherry trees on the Willamette University campus.

Cherry trees on the Willamette University campus.



Cherry blossoms along the Oregon Capitol Mall.

Cherry blossoms along the Oregon Capitol Mall.



Cherry trees on campus.

Cherry trees on campus.


Cherry blossoms falling on the Oregon Capitol Mall.

Cherry blossoms falling on the Oregon Capitol Mall.

Housing Resources »

The time has come — we are starting to get some requests about housing resources. We are here to help!

Our website has information about apartments we are aware of. We update this about once a month or so, but this is a great place to start. It shows rent prices, amenities, and distances from campus, no login required. We recommend you do not wait until the last minute to start looking!

We have our own version of Craigslist, and it is called Switchboard. Everyone on Switchboard is affiliated with Willamette — current students, staff, or faculty, and alumni. You’ll need to make an account. Feel free to post or message people on here. Here is more information about how to use it. There are also sing and double occupancy apartments on campus that are designated for graduate students. Willamette has two graduate schools: Law and MBA. Patti in Housing can help you get more information about this. Email her at They have both 9 and 12 month lease options.

We are hoping to have a current law student “on call” to help students who are not in the area with housing options. Our idea is that incoming law students can contact our office about whatever housing appointment they made, and we can send a current student to go tour it and either Skype with you while they are there or send you pictures and tell you how the tour went. More information to come on this; contact our office in the meantime if you have questions.

Finally, we do have a Current Student Facebook page. Currently, incoming 1L students do not have access to it. Once finals are over, we will allow 1L’s to join (around May 1). If you joined now, most of the information currently posted on it deals with finals, and it’s not relevant to you just yet.

If you have any other questions that we can help with, don’t hesitate to call or shoot us an email. We’ll see you soon!

Willamette Law chooses Mentor of the Year »

Willamette Law mentor of the year, Jennifer Brown JD '08

Salem attorney Jennifer Brown JD’08 surprised her three student mentees with how available she was to help them through their time at Willamette Law. Brown balances her job, spending time with family and participating in Oregon State Bar and other professional activities, yet she frequently makes time to meet with her students, they said.

That, and numerous other reasons, are why Willamette Law named Brown its Mentor of the Year at a reception April 5. Brown is an attorney focusing on family law, personal injury, and probate matters with Eggert & Associates. She’s been mentoring since 2010 and said she was honored to receive the award.

“When I first began mentoring, I did not know what it meant to be a mentor,” Brown said. “I listened carefully to the nominations at the spring reception and made it my goal to be the best mentor I could be. Listening to the nominations this year, it is humbling that I was chosen out of so many great mentors.”

Brown’s students, first-year Will Riddell, second-year Brittany Sumner, and third-year Shelby Thomas, nominated her for the award. Most Willamette attorney mentors are paired only with first-year students. Bev Ecklund, Placement Office coordinator, said Brown is unique in that she continues to mentor hers as they move into their second and third years, so she ends up counseling three.

Brown said she enjoys seeing students transform from nervous first-years to confident third-years and working attorneys.

“Law school is an extremely difficult time,” Brown said. “Being a mentor allows me to give back to the legal community by helping students through the process of becoming attorneys.”

Thomas has been mentored by Brown for three years and nominated her every year for the award.

“Not only does she continue to mentor me, but she also takes on a 1L mentee and retains her relationship with her 2L mentee and graduated mentees,” Thomas said. “Over the last three years, Jenny has been there for me, not only as an attorney mentor, but as a friend and confidant.”

Brown is a ‘prime example’ of how to be an attorney and still have time for family and activities, Sumner said. Riddell agreed. After working at a law office, Riddell said he saw how busy attorneys were, even at small firms. He expected his mentor to be busy with work and not have much time left over to meet.

“My presumption was entirely flipped on its head,” Riddell said. “Jennifer dove right in and was immediately prepared to work with me to start talking about my goals on day one.”

Brown has invited her mentees to her court appearances and networking opportunities, met them often for meals or coffee, and reviewed their cover letters and resumes. She has also helped them make connections and look for summer or permanent positions. All three students said she is more than just a mentor and is quick to offer help with school or personal problems.

It’s clear, Thomas said, that Brown isn’t an average mentor.

“There is no one more deserving of being Mentor of the Year.”

Accelerated BA/JD at Willamette »

State Capitol Building, Waller Hall, and Easton Hall on Willamette's Campus During SpringWillamette University  has a 3+3 program, which gives students the opportunity to complete their bachelor’s and law degrees in six years, instead of the traditional seven. Students in the 3+3 program spend less money and time on their education and have an additional year of earning power.

Why Willamette?

One of the only Colleges that Change Lives associated with a law school, Willamette is located in Oregon’s capital city across the street from state government. Our location provides ample opportunities for students to intern or work for state legislators, the governor’s office, state and municipal courts, the Department of Justice, state agencies, and the many law firms that are within walking distance from campus. It’s not uncommon to see state lawmakers, attorneys, and judges eating lunch at Willamette’s dining hall.

Willamette cares about its students. At Willamette, you’re never just a number or “another student.” We are proud to know our students by name. Our award winning professors are not just great researchers; they are great teachers. Our small community is the ideal place to earn both your bachelor’s and law degrees.

How does the 3+3 program work?

Students in the 3+3 program complete their degree requirements and major requirements in three years, saving their elective credits. The first year of law school then counts as the student’s fourth year of their undergraduate career, satisfying their elective credits. Students must apply separately to Willamette’s undergraduate degree program and then to the law school.

Students must take the LSAT in the summer between their junior and senior years and score at or above our median LSAT score for that year. Our median LSAT score ranges in the low- to mid-150s.

Click here for more information about the 3+3 program.

Willamette Law Students Counsel Asylum Seekers through Human Rights and Immigration Clinic »

Willamette Law is the only law school in Oregon that has a program directly in the area of human rights and immigration. Willamette’s Human Rights and Immigration Clinic enables students to represent clients in a variety of cases and projects that involve domestic and international law such as human rights law, immigration (in particular, immigration matters associated with asylum claims), Green Cards, VAWA and trafficking visas, human trafficking, and civil litigation under the Alien Tort Statute and the Torture Victim Protection Act. 

This clinic gives students hands-on opportunities to interview and represent clients, engage in factual and legal research in the area of international law, engage in in-depth legal analysis and writing, and learn to work collaboratively in a team setting.

Nearly all students enrolled in the Human Rights and Immigration Clinic represent clients seeking asylum for persecution they suffered abroad or who have been victims of trafficking. The work includes conducting several interviews with the client, assisting the client with filing an application, preparing an in-depth brief and declaration, and representing the client at an administrative hearing or before Immigration Court.

In 2013, the Clinic filed two lawsuits on behalf of Adel Hamad and Mammar Ameur, both former Guantanamo Bay detainees, bringing suits for prolonged arbitrary detention, torture, cruel, inhumane and degrading treatment and targeting of a civilian during time of war, all in violation of the law of nations and the U.S. Constitution.

Clinic students also engage in human rights fact-finding and reporting. In 2014, the Clinic prepared “Human Trafficking and Native Peoples in Oregon,” a human rights report that summarizes the vulnerability of Native Peoples to human trafficking and makes recommendations to help government officials better fulfill their legal obligations. The Clinic also has prepared shadow reports for various United Nations proceedings.

The Human Rights and Immigration Clinic is just one of the many experiential learning opportunities at Willamette Law. The Clinical Law Program also offers programs in Business Law, Child and Family Advocacy, and Trusts and Estates. Willamette’s Externship Program provides opportunities for law students to gain hands-on experience working with attorneys in a variety of settings.

Please contact us for more information about Willamette Law or to set up a campus visit.

Spring Open House »

Willamette Law’s Spring Open House is on April 1, 2017. There is still time to sign up for this free event, both prospective and admitted students are welcome to attend. Please RSVP here.

The day offers many opportunities to meet with Willamette Law faculty, staff, and students. Click here for more information about the schedule of events. This is the perfect kind of event to attend if you aren’t sure which school will be the best fit for you. We highly suggest you visit a few schools!

If you have any questions about lodging or other logistics, please feel free to call us! We are happy to help: (503) 370-6282.

Can’t make it this time? No problem! You are welcome to set up a private visit and come any time that works for you.

Advice on Letters of Recommendation »

A frequent topic that students ask about is letters of recommendation. Here is some advice about what we look for in letters of recommendation:

  • Who should write letters of recommendation? Typically, we like at least one letter of recommendation to come from a professor. If this is not possible (especially true for students who have been out of undergrad for a while), a letter of recommendation from a supervisor, mentor, or community member will be great. We care more that the person writing the letter knows you well than that they have a particular title. No letters of rec from family members or friends (this may be obvious to some, but we always receive at least a handful each year from family members or friends). Excellent letters of recommendation often come from professors who have had a student throughout the student’s academic career where the professor can talk about the student’s growth.
  • What should the recommender write about? Your recommender should write about specific traits that you have that make you well-suited for law school. Do you have grit? Perseverance? Are you quick on your feet? Can you see multiple sides of an issue? These are all great qualities to have in law school.
  • How long should the letter of recommendation be? We’re looking for about a page or so. No more than two pages. One paragraph is probably too short.
  • How many letters of rec should I get? Two. Willamette will accept three, but two good ones will suffice.
  • General tips
    • Give your recommender plenty of time to write your letter (four to six weeks is a good rule of thumb).
    • Ask your recommender in person.
    • You may consider giving your recommender your resume or friendly reminders of projects/papers/assignments on which you worked and excelled.
    • Ask that the letter of recommendation will be positive (again, every year we receive a handful of negative letters).

Questions about letters of recommendation or the law school application process in general? Contact us or the school to which you are applying. We are happy to answer any questions you may have.

J.R. Tarabocchia is the Director of Recruitment & Student Activities at Willamette University College of Law

Campus Treasures »

College campuses are commonly known for having hidden treasures around the school. Things you often don’t learn about until you are a student, because they aren’t talked about much. So, we did some digging and found these treasures to share with you.

Here are some of Willamette University’s hidden treasures:

Star trees: Planted in 1942, these five giant Sequoias are the largest on any college or university campus in the U.S. Walk into the middle of them and look up to see a star-shaped sky—and campus lore says that if sweethearts share a kiss there, they might be destined for marriage. When it is warm outside, students bring chairs and study under them.

Oregon is known for its greenery and its environmental conscientiousness. We take that a step further. During the summer months there are fruit and vegetable gardens around campus that anyone is welcome to help themselves to—all free! Our campus is maintained all organically, so these fruits and veggies are especially wonderful.

One of my personal favorites is chocolate chip cookies you find at The Bistro! This is the only student-run coffee shop. I think of Central Perk from Friends every time I walk in. Cookies here are a bargain at $1 and homemade! We might be a little obsessed with them. You can also get a cup of coffee to add to it for another dollar.

Across campus, past The Bistro, is another dining option called Kaneko. On Wednesdays (no, they don’t wear pink) they have fresh sushi! But get it while you can—this is a very popular option, and they sell out most of the time. It is delicious.

School can be pretty stressful, and we have a great way to help you remedy that. Welcome to our private zen garden, tucked away in a quiet space on campus. Students enjoy the peace and quiet of the garden to read a good book, or just to take time to unwind while appreciating the beauty of the area.

Squirrels: who doesn’t love these little furry creatures? They live the good life on our campus and make friends with students.