The Civil Right to Counsel Initiative is a project of Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law & Equality  at Seattle University School of Law led by Professor Lisa Brodoff, in partnership with the National Coalition for a Civil Rights to Counsel (NCCRC).

The Initiative was inaugurated by a symposium titled Civil Legal Representation and Access to Justice: Breaking Point or Opportunity for Change, held at Seattle University in February 2010, which brought together a variety of civil right to counsel stakeholders including academics, legal aid practitioners, judges, bar leadership, and legislators to engage in a discussion about the civil right to counsel landscape nationally and in Washington State. The substance of the symposium focused specifically on the civil right to counsel for low income individuals as part of the much broader access to justice framework. The material presented at the symposium was published in Volume 9, Issue 1 of the Seattle Journal for Social Justice. All of the articles are available here, as well as below.

Civil Right to Counsel Scholarship

The ADA: One Avenue to Appointed Counsel Before a Full Civil Gideon
Lisa E. Brodoff, Susan McClellan & Elizabeth Anderson

Ten Years in and Picking up Steam: A Retrospective on the National Coalition for a Civil Right to Counsel
John Pollack & Mary Deutsch Schneider

Symposium: Civil Legal Representation and Access to Justice: Breaking Point or Opportunity for Change


Civil Right to Counsel under Washington's Due Process Provision

The Civil Right to Counsel Initiative of the Korematsu Center submitted a brief in In re Dependency of S.K-P., a case before Division II of the Washington State Court of Appeals, supporting S.K-P.'s argument that article I, section 3 of the Washington constitution should guarantee counsel to children in dependency proceedings. The Center argued that because no federal precedent exists on the question of whether children in dependency proceedings are entitled to counsel under the Fourteenth Amendment, a Gunwall analysis is not required to apply article I, section 3 in the case. The Center alternatively argued that if a Gunwall analysis is necessary, notwithstanding the absence of federal law on point, the court's interpretation of article I, section 3 should be properly contexualized in a long-standing body of state constitutional law, state common law, and state statutory law designed to protect the interests of children in the deprivation context.

Read the Center's Amicus brief in In re Dependency of S.K-P.

Petition for Rulemaking for Representational Accommodation in Administrative Hearings

On behalf of our client, C.B., the Korematsu Center, and Disability Rights Washington, Professor Brodoff, with assistance from law students Erik Ben Zekry and Whitney Hill, filed a petition for rulemaking asking that the Office of Administrative Hearings promulgate a new rule requiring OAH to do an individualized and fact-specific evaluation of the effects of an appellant's disability on the ability to represent him or herself at hearing and provide a representational accommodation when the evaluation shows the need for that reasonable accommodation.

Read the petition.

Weems v. Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals

Professor Brodoff wrote an amicus brief on behalf of the Korematsu Center in Weems v. Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, before Division II of the Court of Appeals. The brief argues that appellants in the administrative hearing process who have disabilities that prevent them from self-representation are entitled to counsel as a reasonable accommodation under the Americans with Disabilities Act and the Washington Law Against Discrimination.

Read the amicus brief in Weems.

Contact us

Fred T. Korematsu Center for Law and Equality
901 12th Avenue
Sullivan Hall 313
Seattle, WA 98122-1090
Phone: 206-398-4394
Fax: 206-398-4077

Please note: The Korematsu Center will conclude its tenure at Seattle University in June 2024. We are in the process of building a new center for civil rights that will continue this important work. To learn more about those plans and ways that you can support them, please contact Assistant Dean for Development and Alumni Affairs Feven Teklu at