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New Law Faculty

Empowering Others Through the International Human Rights Clinic


love the idea of building something new,” said Gwynne L. Skinner, who joined Willamette University College of Law in August to help launch the school’s first law clinic focused on international human rights. “I loved the idea of coming to Willamette and starting a clinic focused on international human rights. Students are hungry for it; they want this type of practice.

“International human rights clinics should be available to students all across the country,” she added. “It should be available to all law students, not just those in New York or Washington, D.C.” An assistant professor of clinical law, Skinner brings considerable experience in the areas of international human rights, refugee law, civil rights and clinical practice to the school’s new clinic, one of six advanced legal education offerings available through Willamette’s Clinical Law Program. The new international human rights clinic complements the college’s specialized Certificate Program in International and Comparative Law, which was designed to prepare students to meet the challenges of legal careers in an increasingly global profession. Skinners’ own interest in human rights developed at an early age in rural Iowa. “Even at a young age, I had a keen awareness of global poverty and hunger,” she said. “By the time I went to college, I was already interested in foreign policy and human rights issues. Political science was a natural choice for a major.”

22 | Willamette Lawyer

Skinner earned a B.A. in political science at the University of Northern Iowa and graduated with highest honors. She then enrolled in a joint degree program in law and American studies at the University of Iowa. Skinner, who sold her only possession of value — a camera — to pay for the LSAT, paid her own way through school. The sacrifice paid off, and she earned a M.A. and J.D. with high distinction. Following graduation, she accepted a position with the U.S. Department of Justice Honors Program. The highly competitive program enables gifted young lawyers to begin their careers in the Justice Department, despite having limited experience. After gaining critical courtroom practice in Washington, D.C., Skinner was hired as a criminal prosecutor in the King County Prosecutor’s Office in Washington state. She then entered private practice as an attorney with the law firm of Frank & Rosen LLP, where she represented individuals and employees in the areas of employment law and civil rights. She went on to practice with Dorsey & Whitney LLP, focusing

Willamette Lawyer | Fall 2008 • Vol. VIII, No. 2  

Justice Ginsburg Visits Willamette: Willamette welcomed U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg to campus on Sept. 12 and 13 for nume...

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