Law Alumni Board Members

Law Alumni Board 2017-18

2017-18 Law Alumni Board

Debra Akhbari

Debra Akhbari '13  graduated from Seattle University School of Law in December 2013, working full time and attending the law school's evening program. Since graduating, Debbie has practiced at Helsell Fetterman LLP and is a member of the firm's litigation practice group, representing plaintiffs and defendants in state and federal courts in matters ranging from commercial disputes, to property and land use issues, and personal injury claims. She also co-chairs Helsell's Diversity Committee, and is a member of Helsell's Richard S. White Diversity Fellowship committee, which provides a diverse law student with a paid summer associate position and a tuition stipend.

Outside of the office, in addition to being a LAB member, Debbie stays involved with the law school by serving as a member of the law school's Public Interest Law Foundation Alumni Steering Committee. She also serves as the Vice President for Membership and Programs for the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington, and is a board member for the Judicial Institute.

Jason Amala

Jason Amala '05 (President-Elect; Chair, Development Committee) is a partner and co-founder of the law firm, Pfau, Cochran, Vertetis & Amala PLLC, with offices in Seattle and Tacoma, where he has a diverse practice representing plaintiffs. While a student at SU Law, he was twice elected president of the student body and finished second in his class. At graduation, he received the Faculty Scholar Award. Jason serves on the board of the Just Cauz Foundation and is a volunteer with the Make-A-Wish Foundation.

James Armstrong

James Armstrong '00 is the owner of Armstrong Law Offices where he focuses his practice on workers compensation and social security disability. James received his B.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University. He received his law degree from Seattle University School of law in 2000 and has since continued to give back to the community.

In 2009, James served as President of the Loren Miller Bar Association. In 2014 he completed a three year term on the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) Board of Governors. During the third year of his term, he chaired the WSBA Diversity Committee and co-chaired the Mentorship Workgrouop. He currently serves as a Trustee on the Washington State Bar Foundation.

James is a mentor, he returns to Seattle University School of Law frequently to judge legal writing oral arguments moot court competitions.

Joanna Plichta Boisen

Joanna Plichta Boisen '06 (President) is a partner in the business group at Foster Pepper PLLC. She serves as the firm's Pro Bono Counsel and the Chair of the firm's Tax-Exempt Organizations Industry Group. In her role as Pro Bono Counsel, she oversees the pro bono program and is responsible for ensuring that the firm's corporate social responsibility initiatives align with its values and culture. She also manages and supervises Foster Pepper's wide-ranging pro bono cases and projects, while maintaining her own matters and clients. As the Chair of the Tax-Exempt Organizations Industry Group, she and her team provide legal representation in virtually all areas of tax-exempt and charitable giving law on a billable basis.

Heidi Borson

Heidi Borson '97 is an attorney at Durrell Law Group, P.C. in Anchorage, Alaska, where her practice focuses on estate planning, business law, nonprofits, real estate, probate and Alaska Native corporations. Prior to joining Durrell Law Group, Heidi was a litigation associate at MacDonald, Hoague & Bayless in Seattle, focusing on civil rights, discrimination, and employment law. Heidi clerked for the Honorable Robert J. Bryan in the United States District Court in Tacoma, and for the Honorable H. Russel Holland and the Honorable John W. Sedwick in the United States District Court in Anchorage. Heidi served as the first Graduate Fellow and Supervising Attorney of the Access to Justice Institute upon graduation from SU Law.

Todd Carlisle ’95

Todd Carlisle ’95 served as a staff attorney with Columbia Legal Services from 1997 to 2004. Since 2004, he has served as a staff attorney with the Northwest Justice Project’s Tacoma office. His practice includes Medicaid and Medicare law, Social Security law, developmental disabilities law, rights of disabled tenants, and income maintenance. He taught Poverty Law as an adjunct professor at the Seattle University School of Law in 2006 and 2007. He regularly provides training and education to clients, service providers, and other attorneys on public benefits, disability rights, and housing issues.


Michael Cherry '11 has 40-years of experience in the technology industry working in a variety of industries including cable television, government service, networking, manufacturing, oil and gas, consulting, and software evangelism and program management with Microsoft. He was instrumental in the design of a key feature of the Windows NT Operating System. He currently works as a Senior Analyst at Directions on Microsoft.

Leslie Clark

Leslie Clark '04 is a litigation attorney at Phillips Burgess PLLC in Tacoma, where her practice focuses on land use and environmental law. Prior to joining the firm in 2015, she worked for two Seattle firms, handling municipal matters as well as land use and environmental law related cases. She has published on these topics, including the evolving regulatory takings and cleanup apportionment laws. Before becoming an attorney, she served as a land use planner for municipalities in Washington, Utah, and Louisiana.

Jamie (James) Corning

James (Jamie) Corning '12 graduated first in his class and currently practices commercial litigation at Davis Wright Tremaine, where he focuses on class-action defense, intellectual property, contract, and antitrust/consumer protection disputes. Before pursuing a legal career, Jamie worked for nearly a decade as a software developer and program manager for various technology companies, including Microsoft. Jamie is a volunteer attorney with the Housing Justice Project and King County Bar Association Volunteer Legal Services, and in his spare time, he coaches the law school's regional and national moot court competition teams.


Paul Heer '16 is an attorney at Foster Pepper PLLC in the firm’s Investment Management group. His primary practice focus is in domestic and international investments for public and private institutional investors across a range of alternative investments, including private equity funds, hedge funds, and domestic and global real estate funds.

Angie Jones

Angie R. Jones '06 is a member of Perkins Coie's litigation practice. She focuses on white collar and investigations, corporate governance, False Claims Act, and other complex commercial litigation. She has conducted numerous internal corporate investigations in a variety of contexts, including the False Claims Act and Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, and has defended clients in government investigations conducted by such agencies as the DOJ, SEC, FDIC, and FINRA. She also handles civil fraud matters and commercial disputes.

Gretchen Leanderson

The Hon. Gretchen Leanderson '87 was recently appointed by Governor Jay Inslee to the Pierce County Superior Court. She served the Attorney General's Office for 26 years, most recently as Chief of the Tacoma Division, practicing tort litigation, workers compensation, elder law, Medicaid, and DSHS licensing appeals. She is active in the Tacoma Pierce County Bar Association, Washington Women Lawyers, YWCA and the Crystal Judson Domestic Violence Center.

Celeste McDonell

Celeste McDonell '81 is a principal at Skellenger Bender where her practice is focused in the areas of family law, guardianships, estate planning, and probate. She is an active member of the Washington State and King County Bar Associations, and serves as a volunteer settlement conference mediator for King County family law cases. She volunteers with the King County Volunteer Attorneys for Persons with AIDS program and as a member of Seattle University's Planned Giving Committee.

Megan McNally

Megan McNally '13 (Chair, Outreach Committee) is a lawyer, strategist, and rabblerouser. After nearly two decades in the nonprofit sector, she founded Doyenne Legal, an innovative, femme-powered, full-service business law firm that pairs legal counsel with business strategy for startups, small businesses, and social enterprises. She created the FBomb Breakfast Club to give female founders a forum to collaborate through the challenges of launching and scaling companies, and in 2017 launched RheaMedia to build DIANA, the first streaming network dedicated to women’s sports. Megan is also a member of the University of Washington Certificate in Nonprofit Management Advisory Board.

Leslie Meserole

Leslie Meserole '02 (Chair, Mentoring/ Professional Development Committee) graduated from Seattle University School of Law in 2002, where she served as Managing Editor of the Law Review. After graduating, Professor Meserole practiced law in the field of health care, initially in private practice and later as in house corporate counsel at Franciscan Health System. In practice, Professor Meserole provided legal counsel to hospitals, health systems, and physician groups in regulatory and transactional matters. She was a member of the Washington State Society of Healthcare Attorneys and the American Health Lawyers Association. She remains an active member of the Washington State Bar.

Professor Meserole has taught the Health Law Drafting Lab and is now serving as the Legal Writing Adviser. 

The Hon. Judith Ramseyer

The Hon. Judith H. Ramseyer '87 joined the King County Superior Court bench in 2012 after serving as a litigation attorney focusing on complex civil litigation for 25 years. Judge Ramseyer is active in professional organizations and has received the Washington Women Lawyers President's Award and Passing the Torch Award, as well as Washington State Bar Association's Excellence in Diversity Award.

Nate Roberts

Nate Roberts '08 (Chair, Regional & South Sound Committee) is a trial attorney at Connelly Law Offices, PLLC. His practice focuses on the litigation and trial of complex personal injury and wrongful death claims, including civil rights, abuse and neglect, government liability, medical malpractice, Federal Tort Claims Act, and product liability matters. He serves on the Board for the Washington State Association for Justice and received the New Lawyer Award. He has also served on the Board of Trustees of the Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association and received TPCBA's Award for Exceptional Pro Bono Clinic Service in 2013.

Catherine Romero
Catherine Romero '96 is a senior attorney at Microsoft and a member of the Latina Commission of the HBNA. A Standford graduate, she was an engineer at Boeing for seven years before attending Seattle U Law. After graduating, she worked for Perkins Coie before running her own firm that provided legal services to Microsoft. Before joining Microsoft, she worked in-house for T-Mobile. She has taught a mergers and acquisitions lab at the law school as an adjunct professor.

Archita Taylor

Archita Taylor '13 works in the Legal Department at Amazon as a Contracts Manager. Prior to joining Amazon, she worked for several years in Washington, D.C. at a couple of voting rights nonprofits, both litigating and advancing positive voting reforms.

While in law school, she participated in the International Law Society and the Seattle Journal of Environmental Law. She was also a Public Interest Law Foundation (PILF) grant recipient.