Q&A with Mohsen Manesh on new Portland Law Program

This fall the University of Oregon’s law school is launching its Portland Law Program, housed in the White Stag building in downtown Portland. Mohsen Manesh is the faculty director of Oregon Law’s Portland Law Program, and here’s what he had to say about the new opportunity.

What does the new Portland Program entail for students?

Law school is three years, and in most law schools, including at the University of Oregon, the first year of courses are all required courses. The second two years, with the exception of a few required courses, it really lets the students choose them all in their second and third year. The way the Portland program is set up is that it’s a full year program for third year law students. Students come to the law school in Eugene, do their first and second year of law school in Eugene and would do their third year in Portland.

How will this help the law school maintain competitive advantage?

Part of what we see as the unique appeal of the Portland program is that so many of our alumni end up in Portland, so many of our current students want to be in Portland, and what the Portland program does is provide that bridge from the academic experience in Eugene to the practical experience and the transition into practice for our students.

With both the rigorous traditional academic experience during the first two years and then the professional real-world experience in Portland, students can have the best of both worlds. I think this really distinguishes the experience our law school offers from other law schools.

Is the Portland Program addressing any challenges the law school is facing?

There’s a million and one things that having a permanent and robust Portland presence will do for the law school and for the university. We see it from starting with the admissions issues to alumni issues. Having a Portland option for students makes the University of Oregon a much more attractive place for them to get their JD degree than if we didn’t offer anything to them in Portland.

Likewise, a lot of our students are interested in meeting practitioners and meeting alumni that are working. So we think it will improve our student experience and the student’s employment prospects, especially for those students who are interested in practicing in the Portland area following graduation.

For example, one of the things we’re doing is having a mentorship program, where each one of our students will be paired with a local practitioner. The idea is to enable the student to build an immediate, one-on-one relationship with a person who shares professional interest or practices in the area of law that the student hopes to practice.

What has your favorite part been about this whole process?

It’s been so many things. If you come to Portland and just experience a day in the White Stag, around downtown Portland, you’ll fall in love. The opportunities here are tremendous and the experience will be something that is distinctly different, but complimentary to the experience in Eugene. It’s still Oregon, it’s still the same culture, it’s just the city version of it and it just really compliments the experience that undergrads and law students have in Eugene.

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Francesca Fontana

Francesca Fontana

Francesca is the associate news editor for community news.
She worked as The Register-Guard's 2015 Snowden Intern, and studies journalism and economics.