Works and Days

Oregon State Bar: Aliana Knoepfler, Winter Shadow 2016

This January I was able to spend three days shadowing Amber Hollister, the General Counsel at the Oregon State Bar. I went into the experience with a strong interest in the connection between law and ethics, but actually knowing very little about how the rules that govern lawyers play out in real life.

On the first day of the shadow, I was able to learn about the role of the disciplinary counsel at the Bar and about the process that occurs when somebody files an ethics complaint against the lawyer. During the next two days, I was able to see how these ethics rules get put into practice. I met with law students, lawyers, and even judges, which was an invaluable opportunity.

One of the most meaningful parts of my winter shadow experience was being able to meet Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge Adrienne Nelson and sit in on one of her court proceedings. Afterwards, she generously met with us and discussed her own experiences as a judge and a lawyer. I also had the honor of meeting United States District Court Judge Michael Simon and Oregon Court of Appeals Judge Christopher Garrett, who both went out of their way to answer our questions and share their experiences with us.


Judge Garrett is a Reed College graduate and it was helpful to hear from him about his own experiences at Reed and how they intersected with his interest in law. Similarly, I was able to meet Governor Brown’s Deputy General Counsel Misha Isaak, who is also a Reed graduate. I was interested to see the ways in which Reed graduates pursue legal careers and how many Reedie lawyers stay in Oregon. More generally, hearing from different lawyers and judges about their experiences allowed me to see the different ways that one can practice law and pursue their own interests.

Throughout the externship, I was very grateful that everyone we met was so willing to show us around, meet with us, and hear about our interests. On the last day of the externship, we went to the state capitol in Salem and visited the Justice Building. After meeting Oregon Supreme Court Justice Kistler in the hallway, he then offered to personally show us around and tell us about the Supreme Court. I was so surprised and grateful that he was so willing to take time out of his day to do that for us.

This experience not only allowed me to establish new connections with lawyers, judges, and law students, but also to examine my own ideas about the connections between law and ethics. I found it useful to spend the first day of the externship learning about the role of the Oregon State Bar and then being able to have that knowledge when attending events and meeting lawyers during the next two days. Overall, I am so glad that I had this opportunity and am excited to learn more about the State Bar in the future.

Tags: winter shadow, externship, law, legal, court, justice, politics