Latina/o Community Awards honor two alumni, judge

March 12, 2013

Two Seattle University School of Law graduates and a King County judge who supports the law school will be honored at the Latina/o Community Awards Thursday, March 14. The law school presents the annual award to individuals who exemplify the law school's goals of working for a just and humane world and diversifying the legal community.

This year’s winners:

La Justicia Award
M. Lorena González

Lorena GonzalezLorena is a Shareholder at Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, where she focuses her practice on representing individuals victimized by people in authority positions—employers not giving workers the pay and benefits owed to them, police officers abusing their powers and sexual aggressors preying on those unable to defend themselves.

Lorena, who is fluent in Spanish, was admitted to the Washington State Bar in 2005 and has litigated numerous cases in state and federal court. The daughter of immigrant parents from Mexico, Lorena is a native Washingtonian who grew up in the lower Yakima Valley, where she and her family worked as migrant farmworkers. She is the first attorney in her family.

Lorena is a past president of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington’s (LBAW) Board of Directors and was a member of that board from 2003–2008. In 2004, she was the recipient of LBAW’s Outstanding Member of the Year award, and was the youngest member and the only law student in the history of LBAW to receive that award. Lorena was also the 2011 recipient of Seattle University’s School of Law Alumni Service Award. She has served as president of the law school’s Law Alumni Board.

As an attorney at SGB, Lorena forged a partnership between SGB, LBAW and El Centro de la Raza to institutionalize a free monthly bilingual legal clinic for low-income community members living in the Puget Sound. The legal clinic program is now in its fifth year and has provided more than 1,000 people with free legal advice.

Spirit of Service Award
Sarah Leyrer ‘06

Sarah LeyrerAs a foreign exchange student in Uruguay in high school, Sarah learned to speak Spanish and gained a new perspective on the role of the United States in the Americas. By the time she entered Seattle University School of Law in 2003, she was determined to work on behalf of Spanish-speaking immigrants. Fellow award recipient Lorena Gonzalez helped shape Sarah’s career by suggesting Sarah apply for a work-study position Lorena was soon to vacate. Sarah got the job at Casa Latina, and became interested in the intersection of immigrant and employment rights.

Upon graduation, Sarah worked at a workers’ compensation firm in Seattle until she relocated to Moses Lake to open a new Columbia Legal Services office. When the office closed in 2011 due to funding problems, Sarah moved to the Wenatchee CLS office, where she represents farmworker clients’ varied housing- and employment-related matters.

Sarah is a 2010 graduate of the WSBA Leadership Institute. In 2010, she was honored by the WSBA’s Young Lawyers Division as Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year. She is active with numerous local bars associations and volunteer legal services programs.

Latina/o Amicus Award
King County Superior Court Judge Mary Yu

Mary YuJudge Yu has been on the bench since 2000. She is co-chair of the Washington State Supreme Court Minority and Justice Commission and serves as a Distinguished Jurist in Residence at Seattle University School of Law. Among her service, she has been dean for the 2009 Washington State Judicial College; the Superior Court Judges Association representative to the American Bar Association, Judicial Division; and past president of the Board of Trustees of the King County Law Library. She received the 2012 President’s Award from the Asian Bar Association of Washington and the 2012 Difference Makers Award from the American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division. Judge Yu is a frequent speaker for legal education seminars and is active in a variety of community and professional activities and organizations.