Suzanne Skinner

Homeless Rights Advocacy Practitioner in Residence to the Homeless Rights Advocacy Project, Korematsu Center
Curriculum Vitae


Seattle University School of Law
Location: SLLH-410
Phone: 206.398.4257


J.D., Northeastern University School of Law, 1984
B.A., University of Washington, 1979


Suzanne Skinner has spent 30 years as counsel to public agencies, private companies, and non-profits. Her areas of expertise are in the rights of the homeless, general municipal law, and environmental law, including water law. She served for eight years as the Director of the Civil Division of Seattle's City Attorney's Office. While there, she settled the City's long-standing litigation against organized homeless encampments, allowing an encampment in city limits with notice to the community, and protections for the health and safety of the encampment community and the neighborhood. The consent decree became a model for encampment ordinances throughout Washington. Since then, Ms. Skinner has assisted several jurisdictions in adopting and defending encampment ordinances. She also was instrumental in crafting Seattle's diversion program for driving with license suspended cases-which allowed those convicted to avoid impoundment and retain their cars. She has spoken at continuing legal education programs and conferences about the intersection between municipal concerns and the rights of the visibly poor. It is her passion for this work that brings her to Seattle University Law School's Homeless Rights Advocacy Project.

She also has an extensive background in environmental law and, most recently, served as the Executive Director of the Center for Environmental Law and Policy, where she, together with a coalition, brought impact litigation compelling the state to follow the Water Pollution Control Act in licensing dams. She also brought together a coalition of environmental groups to advocate for changes to the Columbia River Treaty to integrate ecosystem protection and Tribal treaty rights into management of the Columbia River. She has spoken frequently at conferences and continuing legal education programs about the Columbia River Treaty and water and environmental law generally.

Ms. Skinner also has served as an administrative law judge for Washington's Land Use and Environmental Hearings Office, counsel to an alternative energy developer, and as an Assistant United State Attorney in New York City.