OTLA Sidebar September 2020

20 • SIDEBAR • September 2020 Guardians of Civil Justice Spotlight: Melina Martinez C olleagues and friends know Melina Martinez as an attorney with a deep sense of compassion and an unparalleled work ethic. Having witnessed the many harmful effects of social and economic injustice and with a longstanding conviction that everyone is entitled to justice and dignity under the law, Martinez decided in high school to pursue a legal career and has not backed down since. After attending Oregon State University and then Lewis and Clark, she received her JD in 2016 and has been a fierce advocate for clients ever since. Martinez’s calmness in the face of difficulty is one of her strengths as she tackles each challenge in the pursuit of justice. This innate sense of assuredness and compassion is evident in her daily interactions. She’s a proud advocate for social justice outside of the courtroom just as she is within. A member of the Minority and Women’s Caucuses and active in the New Lawyers section, Martinez stands out as an engaged and passionate member of OTLA. She was selected from a competitive pool of applicants to participate in OTLA’s second Leadership Academy class in 2017- 2018. She’s also active not only within OTLA but the Multnomah Bar Association, Oregon Women Lawyers, the Oregon Hispanic Bar Association and the National Hispanic Bar Association. She is a member of the Oregon State Bar’s Bench and Bar Commission on Professionalism, Advisory Committee on Diversity & Inclusion and the Diversity Section. She also co-chairs the Oregon new Lawyer Division’s Member Services Committee, helping to plan and host networking events with Oregon’s Affinity Bars and OSB sections. In her personal life, Martinez enjoys exploring the great outdoors with her three dogs and quality time with her husband. She enjoys karaoke (especially with her fellow Minority Caucus members) and cites fellow Guardian and colleague Bonnie Richardson as one of her inspirations. In her own words: My work life has changed in the last year because: I practice construction defect and professional negligence litigation, two areas that are growing alongside the growth of my firm [Richardson Wright]! The opportunities I see from that change are: As those practice areas grow, I’m finding new opportunities to expand my knowledge and assist clients in need. The best thing about my job is: I really love my job. I give injured persons a voice and I am lucky enough to work with really great colleagues. The hardest thing about my job is: It is challenging to be the bearer of either bad news or facts that may place a client’s recovery at risk, but I always want to be honest with my clients even if that means being straightforward with information that is difficult to hear. When I was a brand-new lawyer, I wish I had known: All the ways our legal community helps one another. I am glad to have learned this relatively early on in my practice, but I wish I had known about certain resources, especially those offered through OTLA, even sooner. For that reason, I always encourage law students to join OTLA as student members and to get involved by attending CLEs and networking events. Growing up, I thought I would become: A lobbyist or a lawyer. As a kid, I was my parents’ Spanish-to-English translator and advocate. It was only natural for me to transition to a role where I can help others have a voice as well. My path to get there looked like: I graduated high school in 2004, and then from Oregon State University in 2011. I bounced from community college to a four-year university, which was a challenge in and of itself. Once I graduated college, I didn’t begin law school until 2013. I did not have a financial support system to fall back on, or the resources and mentorship to expedite my journey to becoming a lawyer. When I speak with other lawyers who are persons of color or from other underrepresented SPOTLIGHT continues on page 21 Melina Martinez