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The Life and Career of Preston C. Greene: President, Black Law Students Association, Willamette University College of Law, Salem, OR

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<<"The study of law has and will continue to be fun and interesting to me because of the number of ways that an argument can be made [and] the many different areas of study of specialty," Greene said. "However, the best thing about the study of law is the people. The arguments and debates, the exchange of ideas and philosophies—this interaction is what really drives me in the study of law. Individuals come from many different backgrounds and upbringings and contribute their experiences."

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"I feel you learn something best when you have someone to debate and question your ideas and thoughts," he added. "This exchange is fundamental to the study of law, and I thoroughly enjoy the experience. One of my favorite experiences that I experience on a daily basis is the exchange of ideas with others who have fundamentally different ideas and beliefs than me."

During his three years in law school, Greene has had the opportunity to be informally mentored by a professor he holds in high esteem. Professor Leroy J. Tornquist, who teaches courses in civil procedure, evidence, negotiation, and trial advocacy, has been one of Greene's biggest influences at Willamette.

"I have been most influenced by Professor Tornquist at my law school," Greene said. "He has always been professional, courteous, straightforward, and always has the time for a student and a word of encouragement—not to mention he is a brilliant attorney whose trial practice seminar has been taught at universities and firms throughout the nation. A good mentor does not always tell you what you want to hear, but the desire to assist and develop one's skills is essential."

Upon graduation, Greene has plans to work in real estate and development law. Somewhere down the road, he has grand aspirations to found a development company with some of his high school friends. The group has been planning this future endeavor for awhile and taking the appropriate steps to get themselves closer to their dream.

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"Three friends and I from high school have had our eyes on starting a development company," Greene said. "However, we all felt that we should each have a skill set and competence in an area of real estate development before we could successfully operate a development company. As I [make] my way [into the field of] real estate law, my two friends are working in commercial real estate, zoning, and land planning, respectively. Thus, we are now waiting to become competent in our fields and for the right opportunity to begin."

As President of the Black Law Students Association, Greene is responsible for promoting diversity at Willamette. This is a somewhat bigger challenge than one might think, seeing as how there are currently no black 1L or 2L students at the law school.

"The main goal and purpose is to promote and support black law students," he said. "Minorities are underrepresented in the legal field. Thus, the association strives to actively support incoming black attorneys through mentorship and guidance."

In addition to his role within the Black Law Students Association, Greene is also Chair of the Moot Court Board. This position requires him to run moot court competitions, and he said that even though the position has been difficult at times because of the responsibility it carries with it, the overall experience has been extremely rewarding.

"I became Chair with the goal of establishing a reputation within the Oregon legal community as a professional, well-respected organization," he said. "I feel that through the many policies and changes that I and the executive board have undertaken, we have paved the path for future generations of moot court boards to strive and excel and to become a school respected nationally for its program."

In addition to his responsibilities at school, Greene works as a project assistant at the Oregon Court of Appeals. In this position, which started out as an externship, he is working on a legislative report and educational symposium entitled "Best Practices."

"The ability to interact with some of the brightest legal minds in Oregon on a project that can influence appellate court management and procedures throughout the nation was an opportunity I could not pass up," he said. "Thus, one year into the project, I am looking forward to accomplishing the goals of publishing an academic paper, presenting the findings in an educational symposium, and helping the people of Oregon by ensuring their courts are run in an effective and efficient manner."

As if that doesn't keep him busy enough, Greene is also a law clerk for the Portland Development Commission. In this position, he assists the legal department, researching and writing for a number of the commission's projects. Greene is especially excited about this job because it provides him with direct, relevant experience that will help him when he is ready to start his development business.

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"The job is very exciting and offers the opportunity to be part of a major factor in the landscape of Portland," he said. "[P]rojects such as the development of the South Waterfront offer an opportunity to see your work in action on a daily basis, as the area has been transformed into a new, vibrant, and livable community."


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