Professor Julie Shapiro

On March 12, 2024, Professor Emerita Julie Shapiro, a Seattle University School of Law faculty member of more than three decades, sadly passed away. She was a nationally celebrated scholar and advocate in LGBTQ law and policy who was a gifted and sought-after legal theorist, teacher, scholar, mentor, and collaborator.

What follows is a collection of remembrances written by her former colleagues and students celebrating the many ways that Professor Shapiro has touched their lives and changed the world for the better for so many.

To contribute your own remembrance of Professor Shapiro, email 1-3 paragraphs with your name, title, and affiliation to: This page will be continuously updated as your submissions are received.

Note: Submissions have been edited for clarity and length.

Bryan Adamson

Associate Dean for Diversity and Inclusion and David L. and Ann Brennan Professor of Law, Case Western Reserve University School of Law

This is heartbreaking. Julie was so beloved by her students and colleagues, including me. From the time I arrived at SU Law, Julie was one of my biggest champions. You could scarcely find a more remarkable colleague. She was also witty, with a wonderful self-deprecating sense of humor. Julie was generous, thoughtful, and brilliant but humble. She had an unwavering commitment to SU Law. As one who also taught Civil Procedure, Julie made me a better teacher. She also made me a better scholar and institution citizen. My heart grieves for Shelly, Eli, and Leah. We have lost a wonderful one. My word.

Deborah Ahrens

Vice Dean for Intellectual Life and Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law

When we first moved to Seattle, Julie and Shelly invited us over for dinner to welcome us to the city and to the Seattle University community. From that point forward, Julie was a treasured friend and colleague and a go-to person for advice in every aspect of life. How to manage tricky teaching issues? Ask Julie. What to do about thorny interpersonal conflicts? Ask Julie. Which congregation should you join? Ask Julie. What should you be reading? What is worth watching? Where should you eat? Julie was the person to consult in every aspect of life, and everyone will be more lost without her. She was brilliant and thoughtful, and offered the gift that, in conversation, she’d push back in ways that at the same time made you really consider varying perspectives and also feel seen and respected — she possessed a formidable but fundamentally kind intellect.

As I remember Julie, I will recall the warmth of the homes that she shared with Shelly and her children, the cocktails on the couch, the long and wandering conversations about everything from politics to parenting, and the laughter from her office filled with the students who adored her. I will remember how she persuaded people around to her perspective more often than not, but also the collegiality she provided to those who might be unpersuaded, and her eagerness to learn from those around her. And I will remember the way in which she could put anything into perspective and sort the important from the unimportant. I will miss her and am grateful and honored to have known her.

Laura Anglin

Senior Law Clerk for Chief Justice Steven González, Washington Supreme Court

Professor Shapiro was my constitutional litigation professor back in 1997. For one semester, she taught 1983 jurisprudence through one, often-violated constitutional right: procedural due process. It brought home viscerally that procedural due process is foundational to a functioning society where everyone is treated as a person worthy of dignity and procedural due process is incredibly difficult to meaningfully enforce. And that sometimes the best you can do is get in your car and drive to where the city of Philadelphia is about to drop bombs on people to bear witness.

I took near-verbatim notes in law school. Some of the things she said that have stuck with me:

  • "You don't call up your client and say 'hey, I'm going to file this motion; what do you think we should call it?'"
  • "These cases disturb my peace with the universe."
  • "The 1875 Congress thought that there was federal common law. They were wrong."
  • "This argument and 85 cents will get you on a bus not during rush hour."
  • "So on to the objective, which is as expansive as constitutional law is unclear."
  • " . . . one of the cool things about being a civ pro nerd . . . "

There are cases that disturb my peace with the universe too, professor. I will miss you always.

Kathryn Boling ’08

Visiting Assistant Professor of Lawyering Skills and Associate Director, Legal Writing Program, Seattle University School of Law

This is a terrible loss for our community! I was fortunate enough to work with Julie both as a student (Family Law, 2005) and as a first-year faculty member teaching 1Ls together. She was so thoughtful, accessible, and dedicated to students and their learning. Even in her last year of teaching, she spent time with me thinking about how lessons she learned in practice might be translated into our first-year lawyering skills class. I remember fondly her classroom discussions about the societal benefits of marriage. She will be remembered by many with admiration and gratitude.

David Britton ’01


I am so shocked and saddened to hear of Professor Julie Shapiro’s passing. I loved her so much. We all did. She was the absolute best. And when I say she was the absolute best, this is what I mean. She didn’t just teach Civil Procedure to a classroom of callow 1Ls. Of course she did that too, and she did it exceedingly well. But that’s not even what I remember. What I remember about Professor Shapiro is that over and above the material, she would tell us what we NEEDED to know. What legal practice was really like, how things really worked in the real world, that kind of thing. I can still remember her telling us, “You think law school is hard? The practice of law is hard.” Yeah, pretty much.

Julie Shapiro is also the professor who, on our very first day of 1L Civ Pro, had us write down on a scrap of paper the reasons each of us decided to enter law school and what we wanted to do with our degrees. I don’t have the paper anymore, but I remember what I wrote on it. A legal career will of course take you in directions you never even remotely imagined (she probably said something about that too), but I still think about that scrap of paper. I still aspire to be that kind of lawyer, and on a really good day maybe I am.

My heartfelt condolences to Professor Shapiro’s family and close friends.

Cynthia F. Buhr ’05

Attorney at Skellenger Bender

Professor Shapiro greatly influenced my life, both as a law student and thereafter. She introduced me to people I still work with today and inspired me to both practice and teach family law at Seattle University School of Law. More than any other law professor, she impacted how I thought about the law both intellectually and in practice. I developed an interest in de facto parentage early in my career because of her articles and teachings, and the reasons for the importance of the law from Julie’s perspective still stick with me to this day. Her original thinking about family law is irreplaceable, but it is how approachable and accessible she was, as well as her bravery in being an out lesbian law professor during a time when it was not popular, that I both benefitted from and remember the most.

Melissa Campos-Castaneda ’06

Attorney, Avelar Immigration Law

I remember Professor Shapiro as a 1L as my Civil Procedure professor. I was nervous and young as a 1L at Seattle U Law, but as an “ARCie,” I knew that Seattle U Law was the place I was going to learn to become the lawyer I was always meant to be, a lawyer committed to social justice. Professor Shapiro was the first professor who truly embodied that ideal that Seattle U holds so close to its purpose.

Thank you, Professor, for your patience, your compassion, your kindness, your smile! I can see your smile if I close my eyes. As a 1L, it meant so much to me to feel welcome and accepted in your classroom. I am a first-generation college graduate, Latina business owner in Federal Way, and a practicing immigration lawyer since 2007.

Chris Carlsen

Unit Chief Counsel, Civil Rights Division, Arizona Attorney General’s Office

I was a mediocre law student and indifferent advocate. But Prof. Shapiro made caring enough to try to seem fun. That’s my career now, and it wouldn’t have been but for her.

Mark Chinen

Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law

Ruby and I are so very sorry to hear the news of Julie’s passing. Julie was so many things ——teacher, scholar, lawyer, partner, wife, parent, friend, gardener. But I will always remember Julie for her kindness, particularly when I first came to the law school 28 years ago. We commuted together to Tacoma, and during those long drives, Julie was the consummate conversationalist, curious about the world, insightful about the workings of the law school, candid in her opinions, and always encouraging as I struggled through that first year. She and Megan regularly welcomed Ruby, Maya (our newborn daughter), and me over for dinner. Julie made us feel welcome, and this continued even when Megan was ill. We will never forget that.

Of course, we were just two of many folks who were beneficiaries of Julie’s goodwill. Ruby and I regret we could not attend her memorial service to express our gratitude for her with others — Ruby’s aunt recently passed away, and her memorial service took place at the same time. But we give thanks for Julie’s life, and we will be remembering Shelly, Eli, and Leah in their loss.

Maggie Chon

Donald and Lynda Horowitz Chair for the Pursuit of Justice & TILE Program Co-Director, Seattle University School of Law

Julie and I first met when we both worked on a political campaign a couple of years before she began teaching at what was then University of Puget Sound (UPS) School of Law and I began teaching at Syracuse the same year. We met stuffing envelopes in Philadelphia. Later, I remember having a bag lunch with her in Independence Hall Park (shortly after the bicentennial celebration of the Constitution). We compared the books we might be using for civil procedure, which coincidentally we both would be teaching. I decided to use the Yeazell casebook because Julie did. And in the many years following, Julie continued to blaze a path for me — first by introducing me to Professor Robert (Bob) Chang, who was starting his teaching career at UPS and who was the first Korean American law professor I met (making him and me a society of two for a while), as well as helping to recruit me as a lateral hire at Seattle University’s newly acquired law school, to be the first woman of color on the law school faculty and one of the first at the university. It was because of Julie’s intuitive understanding of the need for more diversity, equity, and inclusion at Seattle University that she reached out this way and brought me into the Seattle U community.

Over the years, Julie and I checked in with each other when something needed to be discussed informally or when one of us (it was usually me) had a question about civil procedure. I always thought she had a perspective worth considering even if I didn’t always agree with her. Julie had an incredibly logical mind (she had majored in math) and sometimes almost scared me with how precisely (and even dispassionately) she analyzed situations. Yet at the same time, she was deeply committed to equal justice for all, which showed up in her lifelong work in family law, civil rights, and LGBTQ rights. She started a family law blog that became nationally renowned, before blogging became a typical thing for academics to do.

Through Julie, I met her former Philadelphia law partner Holly Maguigan (who has also sadly passed) and brushed shoulders with a cohort of CLS trailblazers, including Holly and their other law partner, David Kairys. This was a generation who tried to put into (law) practice the ideals of the civil rights movement through their allyship and material support. Julie set a strong example of how to be an excellent lawyer and a good person, not only to me and to our colleagues and to her clients, but also for hundreds (if not thousands) of her students. May she rest in peace.

Janet K. G. Dickson ’88

Associate Professor for Lawyering Skills, Seattle University School of Law

When I think of Julie, I think first of her kindness and her honesty. Julie knew how to have difficult conversations without inflaming the other person and how to coax the best out of other people. I didn’t know Julie well, but I felt like my conversations with her were deep and fulfilling. I always came away from those conversations feeling moved in some way. Julie had the spirit of a reformer, and the patience and resilience to make real change happen.

I am truly saddened by her passing, and I am sending my very warmest condolences to her beautiful family. May her memory be a blessing.

Avery Druyon ’23

Family Law Attorney

I was a 1L in Julie Shapiro's Civil Procedure class in fall 2020, the last year Professor Shapiro taught. Professor Shapiro was my favorite professor and made an impact on my life.

On the first day of class, I immediately emailed Professor Shapiro to meet because I knew she would be a mentor to me. As a young queer student from Utah, that was the first time I had an openly queer professor. Professor Shapiro was happy to meet with me to discuss legal issues and my life. Later that semester, I went through some pretty difficult health issues and had to move back to Utah for the rest of the semester. Professor Shapiro met with me and personally explained the concepts I had missed. This care meant so much to me during a time when I was really struggling. Although the 2020-21 school year was virtual due to COVID, Professor Shapiro was dedicated to providing an excellent educational experience. She was highly approachable and frequently used the "whiteboard" feature to draw diagrams in class, which I really appreciated.

Even after her class ended, Professor Shapiro frequently emailed me and other students asking about our lives and offering to meet up. I met with Professor Shapiro one or two times at Rhein Haus, and we enjoyed a pretzel. I'll forever be so grateful for how caring Professor Shapiro was. I remember feeling so impacted by her work in family law for LGBTQ+ families. Now. I am a queer family law attorney who can hopefully provide some of the same understanding to my clients. Thank you, Julie Shapiro.

Davida Finger ’02

Professor Shapiro was my civil procedure professor during my first year of law school. I remember the animated way she taught and her passion for the subject. I remember her sharing her reflections on the cases she had litigated and how to navigate litigation as a woman. I remember one story quite vividly that she told us about how to use other people’s negative perspectives of female lawyers to one’s own advantage by allowing them to believe that they know more than the female attorney does;; in that way, they always would give over necessary information about the case. I can see her now smiling and rosy as she told that story, laughing at the information that was disclosed to her. Professor Shapiro always had an open door and an open ear, and inspired me on my own lawyering path.

Erin Fullner

Associate Dean for Student Development, Seattle University School of Law

I had the great privilege of being one of Julie’s colleagues at Seattle U Law. She genuinely championed our students. In particular, Julie was quick to say ‘yes’ whenever the law school career services office made an ask of faculty, whether to attend a networking lunch with firms or judges, donate clothes to our pop-up shop, or recommend students for jobs. Julie could ALWAYS be counted on to lend her support to whatever we were working on that would benefit students. She also championed her colleagues. I was looking through my emails and have so many wonderful notes of encouragement and thanks from Julie. She never missed the opportunity to reach out with a kind or congratulatory word, which meant a lot to me.

Some years back, Julie and I were placed in the same Racial Justice Book Group at Seattle U. Even though we had worked together for many years by that point, I greatly valued the opportunity to get to know her in a deeper way through the experience of reading and unpacking “Democracy in Black” together. Julie approached every discussion with a spirit of learning, sharing, and openness. I’m grateful to have had the opportunity to engage in those important discussion alongside her.

Julie led with both the head and the heart, which was such a gift to everyone who was blessed to cross paths with her.

Bobbi Fogle ’22

Staff Attorney, Family Safety Project

As a queer woman, Professor Shapiro made an impact in my life by just being who she was. She was the first older queer woman I had met in the law, and her existence assured me that not only could I be a queer woman in the legal field, but I could be a queer woman and grow older, which is not necessarily a given as a queer woman in America.

I remember that when we went online during COVID, we watched Professor Shapiro’s wife occasionally help her set up the zoom for class. Professor Shapiro, somehow, found a way to make civil procedure interesting to me. I am incredibly grateful that I got to be one of Professor Shapiro’s students.

Paul Holland

Associate Dean for Experiential Learning & Associate Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law

How fortunate we were to have Julie on the faculty for so long. Law schools are generally full of smart people, but Julie brought something finer and rarer: wisdom. Her thinking — and the way she shared it — always brought the question closer to the people affected and always accounted for the impact on the community.

And she delivered that wisdom with a hint of Columbo-like whimsy, as if she had stumbled her way to the solution, which, of course, was not at all how it happened, but which made it that much harder to resist.

Neither faculty meetings nor farmers’ markets can ever be the same without the chance of seeing her there.

Leila Javanshir ’19

Associate, DLA Piper

Professor Shapiro brought energy and excitement to Civil Procedure! I fell in love with that class 1L year because of her! I can remember going to her office hours with my fellow classmates with the intent of asking a single question, and before we knew it, an hour had passed, and we were chatting about an entirely new issue. We just wanted to be in the presence of her brilliance for as long as possible. Even long after law school, my former classmates and I find ourselves wondering what Professor Shapiro would say when discussing current legal events; she had a way of sticking with you like that.

Professor Shapiro’s contributions to Seattle University and the legal community will always be remembered. My sincere condolences to her family — thank you for sharing her with all of us!

Hon. David Keenan ’08

Judge, King County Superior Court

As a judge, I often reflect on the wonderful time I spent as Professor Shapiro’s civil procedure student. She often talked about “big-R rules,” like the Rules of Civil Procedure, but she also encouraged students to develop their own “little-r rules” to guide their lives and conduct. I shared with Professor Shapiro that I frequently passed along her little-r advice to students, attorneys, and judges. I am grateful for her teaching and her impact on my life.

Jason Michael Leggett ’09

Associate Professor, Kingsborough Community College

Julie Shapiro was a scholar for justice and a creative and talented pedagogue. She was instrumental in helping me find a pathway for meaningful public interest legal education. As an educator, she exemplified patience and the ability to engender critical dialogue across differences and positionalities.

I appreciated that she was quirky and had a humorous way about her. Yet, she was also a forceful voice for rights advocacy. Her work in law, family, and sexuality studies is a cornerstone in the equal rights structures and dialogues today. A lovely, decent human and a patient, understanding mentor, she will be missed by many, but her contributions will endure as a shining beacon in a dimming world.

Nicholas Oglesby ’16

I had Prof. Shapiro for 1L Civil Procedure. She had a unique blend of toughness and kindness, and exemplified the fact that you never need to sacrifice one for the other. I can't think of a more important lesson for a prospective attorney.

She will be missed!

Tamar Rosenfeld ’16

Child Advocate Attorney

I lucked out and got Professor Shapiro as my advisor during my 1L year. After meeting with her, she connected me with several attorneys in the area of family law (my interest at the time) that I met with. One individual I met with was a juvenile court judge. I was just thinking of that meaningful meeting the other day and how Professor Shapiro was so on point to have me meet with the judge. I now practice as a child advocate attorney in Atlanta.

I also had her as a professor during my 1L year, and I remember how upbeat and positive she was during class. It would lift the energy of the room.

Mimi Samuel

Associate Professor of Lawyering Skills & Director of the Legal Writing Program, Seattle University School of Law

Julie’s lasting impact on Seattle University School of Law comes not only in her teaching, scholarship, and mentorship, but also in her contributions to faculty governance. When Julie spoke at our faculty meetings, people listened. They listened because she was a consensus-builder and a problem-solver. She approached issues with reason, care, and an abiding sense of fairness. Julie was often a moderating influence during heated debates, not because she wasn’t passionate about issues (she was), but because she could be counted on to be independent and open-minded. May her memory be a blessing.

Andrew Siegel

William C. Oltman Professor of Teaching Excellence & Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law

When we were recruited to Seattle 17 years ago, Julie and Shelly welcomed us with open arms to their community, their neighborhood, and their temple. Julie was the heart and soul of the faculty — brilliant, patient, and deeply interested in both people and ideas. She was someone you wanted to emulate — as a teacher and mentor, as a thinker and activist, as a parent and partner and person. Becoming her friend over the next decade and a half was a wonderful ride. Life was busy and complicated for both of us, but every moment stolen with Julie was a pleasure, and so many of them have become core memories: sitting in her office talking faculty politics and learning what it means to be an institutional leader; watching and helping as she organized a supportive scholarship circle for our new junior faculty; taking our intense conversations about the perils and possibilities of marriage litigation on the road to community organizations and student groups; sitting on my couch with her and watching the historic election returns roll in in 2008; catching up in the lobby of the Temple on Sunday mornings; meeting for lunch to talk about everything from movies to mortality; and sharing drinks with her and Shelly via zoom during the height of the pandemic.

And I wasn’t special. Everywhere I went in Seattle, I met people who knew and loved Julie. She was funny and smart and honest and grounded. She kept people on their toes intellectually and focused on the important things emotionally. She lived life to its fullest and encouraged so many of us to do the same. My heart goes out to Shelly and Eli and Leah, and to everyone else who loved Julie. I hope it is some solace that, for so many of us, her memory is already a blessing.

David Skover

Professor Emeritus, Seattle University School of Law

There are many reasons to grieve the loss of Julie Shapiro — who was scholarly, pedagogical, collegial — but I wish to focus here on the personal. When my longtime partner, Sean O’Reilly, died unexpectedly in 2009, Julie reached out to me in a splendid and unique fashion. She invited me to dine with her at one of her favorite restaurants. Our evening together was unquestionably the most special time we had ever spent together. Between the tears and laughter, we shared stories of the partners that each of us had lost, and then conversation meandered on to other topics of mutual interest. At the end of the dinner, Julie proposed that we meet there every week until I recovered my sea legs once again. These lovely meetings continued for months, and I discovered Julie’s warmth, kindness, and compassion in a way that I had never experienced before. I will always be grateful and remember her fondly for those cherished hours.

Ron Slye

Professor of Law, Seattle University School of Law

Julie was one of the first people I met when I moved to Seattle University back in 1997. I quickly learned she was a central pillar in what made the law school such a strong and supportive community. Julie’s office served as a mini-faculty lounge — her door was always open to any and all who might pass by, and a place where diverse faculty met and exchanged ideas. She provided much of the glue that kept a faculty with strong inclinations towards independence (certainly not unique to this faculty) together as a community. Although our fields of expertise were dissimilar, Julie was always an excellent sounding board for new ideas, whether they concerned teaching, scholarship, or law school policies. She was a true mensch. Her interests were varied and eclectic, not just with respect to law, but with respect to literature, movies, binge-worthy series, podcasts, blogs, games, and food — really with respect to life in general. Julie always saw the good in people and events. Her openness, infectious curiosity, and eternal optimism will be sorely missed.

Kjersti Stroup ’11

Estate Planning Attorney

Professor Shapiro taught my 1L Civil Procedure course. My brain naturally thinks on a more black and white basis, so coming into law school was difficult for me. While I felt intimidated and like I was on the defensive in some classes, Professor Shapiro welcomed my questions, provided helpful feedback in office hours, and made me excited about the material. She was one of two professors early on who helped me stretch my way of thinking and how I approached class material. I also appreciated how she connected what we were doing in the classroom to the outside world. She was one of a kind, and I am saddened by the news that she has passed. My thoughts go out to her wife and children.

Remembering Professor Emerita Julie Shapiro

Dean Varona Message – Julie Shapiro (PDF)