Law Alumni Board Members

Law Alumni Board 2018-19

2018-19 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) 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 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 is a staff attorney with Disability Rights Washington’s Treatment Facilities Program. He has advocated for the rights of clients with long-term cognitive, psychiatric, and physical disabilities in Washington’s civil justice system since 1996. He has worked for the Northwest Justice Project, Columbia Legal Services, the Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel, and taught Poverty Law as an adjunct professor at the Seattle University School of Law. He regularly provides training and education to clients, service providers, and other attorneys on public benefits, disability rights, and housing issues.

Michael Charbonneau

Michael Charbonneau (Charb) '11 is a litigation attorney at Bridge Law in Edmonds, Washington, where he handles automobile injuries and insurance cases. Prior to working on the civil side, Charb worked as a public defender in Everett Municipal Court where he handled the firm’s “RALJ” Appeals. Charb is active with the Washington State Association for Justice, serving as the chair of the new member committee. At SU, Charb was an active member of the Student Bar Association and was a member of the Order of the Barristers. When not wearing his lawyer hat, he is most likely wearing a hockey helmet or something absurd while trying to amuse his two small kids.

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.

John Cummings

John Cummings '08 is a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney at the Pierce County Prosecutor’s Office serving in the Appellate Division. He has extensive trial experience, trying over 100 cases to jury and handling some of the most significant crimes in his office. He was named Prosecutor of the Year by the Pierce County Sheriff’s Office in 2017. He also serves as a judge pro tempore for Thurston County District Court. John recently completed a six-year term on the Board of Directors of the Tacoma Rainbow Center, serving twice as its president and twice as vice president. He is a 2013 fellow of the Washington Leadership Institute and a member of Class XXV of the American Leadership Forum.

John is a proud alumnus of Seattle University, where he served as Chair of the Moot Court Board and subsequently spent eight years coaching Seattle University Mock Trial and Moot Court teams. John firmly believes he owes much of his success as an attorney to the firm grounding in Intergrity, Advocacy, and Justice that he received at SU School of Law. John and his husband Ross live in and love Tacoma. They spend most of their time advocating for youth in their community both within and outside of their professions.

Chris Dahl

Chris Dahl '10 has more than a decade of experience as a technical leader in ediscovery. From 2003 to 2010, he worked for the law firm of K&L Gates in its eDiscovery Analysis and Technology (e-DAT) Practice Group. As a Lead Analyst for e-DAT, Chris’s primary responsibilities included developing solutions for complex technical workflows surrounding the collection, processing, and review of electronically stored information for hundreds of cases and investigations. During that time, Chris also served as Board Member of FTI Consulting’s Attenex Technical Working Group and participated in product development with a number of other ediscovery software companies.

Chris received his undergraduate degree from Whitman College and his law degree from Seattle University School of Law. During law school, Chris served as Judicial Extern to the Honorable James L. Robart, United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington.


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.

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. 

Dan Oates

Dan Oates '07 is a commercial litigation partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP. Dan focuses his practice on banking, real estate, administrative law, trademark, and franchise and distribution litigation. Dan appears regularly in state and federal court, as well as before administrative bodies, licensing boards, and the Trademark Trial and Appeal Board. In addition, while in law school at Seattle University School of Law, Dan externed for the Honorable Marsha J. Pechman, United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington. And from 2010-2011, Dan clerked for the Honorable Thomas S. Zilly, United States District Court Judge for the Western District of Washington. Dan was recently named Editor-in-Chief of the Franchise Law Journal.

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.

Aubrey Seffernick

Aubrey Seffernick '06 is a partner at Miller Nash Graham & Dunn LLP. She represents businesses in highly regulated industries with their transactional, licensing, regulatory, and public policy needs. Aubrey assists breweries, distilleries, and wineries with federal and Washington State regulations and compliance issues. She enjoys working with emerging alcoholic beverage businesses as they navigate legal issues and challenges in our thriving region. She is also a member of the firm’s tribal practice team, working with Northwest Native American tribes and organizations on gaming, regulatory affairs, tax, licensing, and economic development issues.

Bruce E. L. M. Strothers

Bruce E. L. M. Strothers ’96 is a native Seattleite building an insurance and financial services business serving the Shoreline community. Previously, Strothers provided corporate legal services as an Attorney at Microsoft, handling Azure cloud transactions; as Managing Counsel at The Coca-Cola Company’s juice and milk business unit in Houston, handling Minute Maid®, Odwalla®, Simply®, Hi-C® and Fairlife® matters; as Coke’s Ethics Counsel in Atlanta, handling anti-corruption matters in 51 African countries, and as Marketing Counsel, handling Sprite®, Fanta®, and major sporting event matters worldwide. Additionally, he was an Associate at the Morris, Manning law firm in Atlanta; Counsel at JP Morgan Chase Bank, in New York City and Senior Procurement Attorney at AT&T Inc., in San Francisco. He has been an expert speaker at the United Nations in Vienna and was National Head Start Alumni of the Year. He self-financed his BA at Brown University, his LLM at the Columbia Law School and maintains active law licenses in Washington State, California, Georgia and Texas.

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.