Professor Lustbader reflects on 20 years of success

My reflections on ARC’s 20th anniversary

By Paula Lustbader ’88
Associate Professor of Law
Director, Academic Resource Center

The Academic Resource Center celebrated its 20th anniversary in June with a rousing reception and dinner. The theme was “Celebrating Twenty Years of Realizing Dreams.” More than 200 people attended, former Dean James Bond and Dean Fred Tausend and alumni from as far away as Hawaii, Florida, Arkansas, North Carolina, Texas, Michigan and California.

Professor Dave Boerner and I were overwhelmed by the enthusiasm and positive energy that filled the room. In his remarks, Dave said that of all the things he has done in his professional life (which we all know is a long and distinguished list), he is most proud of founding and teaching in the ARC program. I wholeheartedly agree.

That event provided us the opportunity to celebrate our students and the positive difference they have made and continue to make in the law school and the legal profession.

Although ARC students comprise about 10 percent of the entire student body, eight of the last 20 Student Bar Association Presidents were ARC students, as were four faculty scholars, three of the most recent graduation speakers, and many of the leadership positions in student organizations such as Moot Court, Law Review, and the Seattle Journal for Social Justice.

Alumni have become state and federal court clerks; partners and associates in big, medium, and small firms; solo practitioners; prosecutors and defense attorneys; U.S. and state assistance attorney generals; public interest lawyers; educators (one is president of a community college); working in large corporations such as Boeing and Microsoft; and judges. They work to provide access to justice through their work in public interest law or through their pro bono efforts.

ARC alums are leaders in their Bar Associations: the current presidents of Washington Women Lawyers, the Loren Miller Bar Association, and Latina/o Bar Association are all ARC alums. They have received numerous Bar Association and professional awards, including the US Attorney Award for Excellence in Public Service, the Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year, and Excellence in Pro-bono Service.

Although their work and professional recognition is marvelous, it is what makes them proud to be a lawyer that demonstrates the degree of difference they are making for their clients and the profession. Here are a few of their responses:

  • “I am proud of being part of our land use and environmental practice team and doing projects like the Port of Seattle Third Runway, the Qwest Field and Exhibition Center. On a more personal level, pro bono projects really stick with you.”
  • “There are no words to explain how great it feels when you witness a victim of domestic violence turn the corner from ‘victim’ to ‘survivor.’”
  • “My client walked up to me after a hearing and said, ‘Thank you for giving me my child.’ I know I made a direct difference in that child’s life.”
  • “When I worked for the State’s Medicaid agency, I got a call from a member of the public thanking me for being the sole reason why she was receiving effective medical care. She wept while she thanked me; it brought tears to my eyes.”

“I write contracts for the Army, generally for humanitarian assistance projects and disaster relief in Central America. Recently, I was reviewing potential sites for the Army to drill water wells for the local people. I remember thinking that helping people this way was an absolutely wonderful way to make a living and make a difference in people’s lives. I really feel great about that. God bless you for helping me be able to do that.”

Or simply:

  • “Gotta go with the helping people thing...love it...and I make a great living.”

These remarks demonstrate the caliber of our students, both in terms of their professional acumen and their compassion. I am grateful for how they have enriched my life. I am so very proud of them and of the service they are providing. Dave and I are deeply honored to have played a small part of helping them realize their dreams.