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Governor speaks to diversity conference at law school

October 18, 2013

Gov. Jay InsleeLawyers committed to increasing diversity and equality gathered at Seattle University School of Law for the 2013 Statewide Diversity Conference and a keynote address by Gov. Jay Inslee.

Sponsored by the Washington Minority Bar Associations Collaboration Project, this year's conference followed the theme "Moving Forward Together."

"It's fitting that the most diverse law school in the Northwest is the home for this important conference," Dean Annette E. Clark said. "Our alumni, faculty, students, and staff are proud to partner with the minority bar associations to change the face of the legal profession and ensure equality for all."

Gov. Inslee told the audience that lawyers are guardians of democracy, equality, and social progress. He recalled meaningful moments from his years as a practicing lawyer working on behalf of clients who had suffered discrimination.

"All of us can do something about this," he said. "And when we do something about this, it's very gratifying."

The governor praised the work of the law school and the university.

"This is an institution that is committed to social justice," Gov. Inslee said. "You really walk the talk."

Other distinguished conference speakers included District Court Judge Richard Jones, Attorney General Bob Ferguson, King County Judge Mary Yu, and  King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg. Seattle University School of Law Professor Andrew Siegel presented a plenary session, "Equality Issues in Recent United States Supreme Court Decisions."

Many graduates of the law school took part in the planning of the conference. Leesa Manion '96, deputy chief of staff for the King County Prosecuting Attorney's Office, was co-chair. Alumni panelists throughout the day included: James Armstrong '00, Armstrong Law Offices; Joanna Plichta Boisen '06, pro bono counsel at Foster Pepper; Akshat Divatia '11, DivatiaLaw; Tracy Flood '99, attorney at law; Emily Gonzalez '10, Patterson Buchanan Fobes & Leitch; Todd Howard '05, Law Office of Todd Howard; and Omar Nur '12, Nur Law.

Seattle University School of Law is the most diverse law school in the Northwest. Students of color make up 38 percent of the 2013 entering class, and the Princeton Review ranked the law school in the Top 10 in the nation for faculty diversity. Our alumni are leaders in statewide minority bar associations, and our faculty work to combat discrimination in many ways.

Fé Lopez '06, the law school's director of Alumni Relations and Annual Fund, received the 2013 Excellence in Diversity Award from the Washington State Bar Association. Professor Robert Chang, executive director of the Fred T. Korematsu Center for the Law and Equality, was selected along with Supreme Court Justice Steve Gonzalez to receive the 2014 Charles A. Goldmark Distinguished Service Award for work on the Task Force on Race and the Criminal Justice System.