Major Gift Helps Endow the Legal Clinic

Willamette University College of Law recently accepted a gift of $1 million and a matching pledge of up to $1 million from an anonymous donor to endow the Clinical Law Program. It is the third year in a row that the College of Law has received a gift of $2 million or more for the endowment of the Law School. The Clinical Law Program, in its current form, has been operated by the College of Law since 1991. Under the direction of full-time clinical supervising attorneys, the program provides legal assistance to needy Oregonians while giving Willamette law students practical experience.

The endowment agreement calls for a $1 million outright gift for the endowment of the Clinical Law Program plus up to $1 million to match funds raised for the Clinical Law Program from other alumni and friends. The additional funds must be received by December 31, 2005 to qualify for the matching gift. When fully realized, endowment for the Program would total $3 million, giving the Clinical Law Program the largest programmatic endowment at the College of Law.

The Clinical Law Program provides law students with opportunities for supervised legal casework in situations involving clients who would otherwise be unrepresented by legal counsel. Cases frequently involve family law, consumer fraud and other personal civil law matters. Both the law students and their clients benefit significantly from their experiences with the Clinical Law Program.

"Almost a decade ago, the Willamette Legal Clinic was in jeopardy of closing because of limited financial resources," said Law Dean Symeon Symeonides. " With the help of special financial assistance provided by alumni and friends, the clinic survived and its program grew stronger. Now, with this generous gift, the Clinical Law Program's valuable role in preparing our students for their legal careers and providing services to needy Salem-area citizens is assured for generations to come. To make such a generous gift without expecting – and, in fact, expressing preventing – any public recognition is nothing short of admirable."

Dean Symeonides is hopeful that alumni and friends will step up to ensure the program qualifies for the $1 million match. "Our immediate challenge now is to go about raising $1 million in endowment gifts for the Clinical Law Program to fully maximize the matching gift from our anonymous donor," he said.

The Law School continues with its efforts to increase the endowment base of the school and decrease its reliance on tuition income. Two years ago, Ken Peterson JD'80 and his wife, Claudia, endowed the Center for Law and Government with a $2 million gift. Last year, Rod Wendt JD'80 and his wife, Carol, endowed a faculty chair in Business Law with a gift of $2.5 million. "We are grateful to these donors for their investments in the Law School and excited by all that they enable us to do in strengthening the faculty, students and programs of the College of Law," Dean Symeonides said.

If you'd like to help the Clinical Law Program reach its $1 million matching challenge, send your check to Clinical Law Program Matching Endowment, Dean's Office, Willamette University College of Law, 245 Winter St. SE, Salem, OR 97301.