- MONDAY POST - Bringing Law 'Inside'

Photo: law.uoregon.edu Michael Moffitt, the Dean of the University of Oregon’s School of Law, was a guest for the closing ceremony of Nathaline Frener’s Winter class on Restorative Justice.  As Dean of the Law School, Professor Moffitt oversees the training of future prosecutors and defense attorneys, and is well acquainted with the mechanics of law from the court room’s perspective.  To my mind, his presence at a closing ceremony marks a real step forward for Inside-Out: a chance to begin a dialogue about the broader implications of Law by looking past the walls.

After his Inside-Out visit, Professor Moffitt sent an email to the entire Law School community.  Here is part of what he had to say:

“I am proud that members of our community have helped to make these courses possible.

Hearing the stories from some of the “insiders” reminded me how powerful an education it can be to work with those who are first-hand consumers of the law and legal services, and I am somewhat embarrassed to say that this was my first time inside the Oregon State Penitentiary.  When I was in law school, I spent time almost every week working in small claims court.  I also spent some time in school and over the summers working with Legal Aid and with teenagers and parents who were at risk of state intervention.  When I first got out of law school, I was surprised at how few of those with whom I graduated had actually worked directly with clients.  They had spent their time working for lawyers who had contact with clients. […]

On this day in prison, I was reminded how helpful it was to me as a student to have this direct exposure to those who were turning to attorneys for help.

With the Inside-Out class, I was essentially like a commencement speaker.  I learned this week that First Lady Michelle Obama is going to be a commencement speaker at Oregon State University later this Spring.  I am confident that her experience at OSU will be not be identical to mine at the Oregon State Penitentiary.  Mine was better.”

I hope Inside-Out will continue to bring this insight and challenge to members of our broader community, and help change some perspectives and assumptions.  I am encouraged by the impact this class clearly had on Professor Moffitt, and hope he’ll be back for future ceremonies.  As some 'inside' students have expressed, this view inside the walls is essential for responsible and empathetic practitioners of the law.

And, I would argue, for all citizens of this country.

- Katie

Inside-Out at U of O