"The faculty and staff at this institution are phenomental at what they do, and I greatly appreciate the level of diversity that exists here, in all its facets. Multiple viewpoints are the fuel that generates innovation and collaboration."
Class of 2014
You'll love learning law with our professors. Meet a few of them here.
In cities throughout Illinois, and in Washington, D.C., home health care workers are defending their right to organize. Thousands of miles away in Seattle, Professor Charlotte Garden is paying close attention.
Harris v. Quinn, currently before the U.S. Supreme Court, could change the scope of public sector union representation in states across the country — including here in Washington — and Garden is a leading voice speaking up for organized labor. In an essay for the Huffington Post, she shot down conservative columnist George Will’s anti-union claims. She analyzed the high court’s oral arguments for Salon. And she rallied dozens of other labor law professors as signatories to an amicus curiae brief for the high court.
Closer to home, she weighs in on disputes between Boeing and the machinists union, and watches non-union companies like Amazon. Her passion for labor law dates back to her childhood in Schenectady, N.Y., home to General Electric. The union was an important ally for working families in her community, and Garden said she saw the law as "a powerful tool" in that same struggle.
When she isn’t teaching, researching, writing, or discovering a new Seattle restaurant, Professor Garden can be found Tweeting madly at @ProfCGarden. Though she joined Twitter "seven years late," she's made up for lost time with daily posts about labor law, constitutional law, and life as an East Coast transplant in the Pacific Northwest.
When Anna Roberts set out to study jury bias five years ago, she didn't expect it to be the driving passion of her career. She was just trying to force a group of lawyers to get along.
"I was on a criminal justice committee for the New York bar," she said. "Half were prosecutors and half were defense attorneys, so we never made progress on anything. I wanted to find a problem to solve that we could all get behind."
And she found it - the problem of racial bias in the selection of jurors. The group wrote a brief arguing that an African American criminal defendant, tried by an all-white jury, had been deprived his constitutional rights. They lost the case, but it launched Roberts's scholarship on this crucial issue. Since then, she's written about and researched the topic extensively, and now serves on an ACLU task force to study the problem locally. Whenever possible, she enlists her students for research help.
"How can you begin to think about working in the criminal justice system without first dealing squarely with the issue of racial disparity? That's what drives my research," she said. "My hope is to help open eyes to this issue, and possibly even help correct it."
In her spare time, Roberts would rather walk her beagle Rudy than watch crime shows on TV. "No, I can't bear it," she said. "They're just so inaccurate, so misleading."
Growing up in the projects of Warren, Ohio, Professor Bryan Adamson remembers the vulnerability that comes with being poor. That's why he dedicates his work with our Consumer Protection Clinic to helping people understand their legal rights.
High interest rates, cramdowns, junk fees, upselling services - these are all plagues foisted on unsuspecting consumers by predatory lending companies. And every day in Adamson's clinic, students learn how to help clients fight back by taking the bad guys to court.
In the process, clinic students learn how to become real lawyers. They learn how to think on their feet when the information in a case changes quickly. They learn ethics and professionalism. They learn time management. And even if they don't ever serve low-income clients again, they leave the clinic with invaluable skills.
"Consumers need help with these problems at all income levels," Adamson said. "Plenty of people don't read the contracts they sign."
When he's not fighting bad guys, Adamson enjoys music - but not on a smartphone. He loves real vinyl records on a turntable. He's an avid audiophile and record collector. His latest purchase: Earth, Wind and Fire's "Now, Then & Forever."
Art. Music. Literature. Medicine. Educational materials. Designs and inventions. These all fall within the realm of intellectual property, a realm where Professor Margaret Chon is a preeminent scholar. IP, she believes, is not just about protecting those works; it's also about finding ways to share.
"There are major social justice aspects of intellectual property," Chon said. "There's an important role for IP in promoting a knowledgebase in countries that don't have the resources we do."
Tiny trademark logos and copyright symbols might be practically invisible to most of us, but Professor Chon sees intellectual property everywhere. Even while souvenir shopping.
Near the end of an international conference in South Africa, where she and other legal scholars had been discussing big questions of how intellectual property can play a role in global health and education, she went browsing for trinkets to bring home.
"So many things I saw were marked local or fair trade, but what does that branding really mean?" she said. "The scholarly agenda is to make this known, and to promote economic development."
And if you take a class with Professor Chon, you might learn about more than intellectual property. She'll probably also try to persuade you to try yoga. "Yoga has changed my life. I take classes four times a week, and I'm just so much calmer," she said. "I try to drop hints with my students, because I think our profession could really benefit from this kind of balance."
When Professor Tom Antkowiak was in law school, something didn't feel quite right. His classmates at Columbia all seemed interested in corporate law, and he just couldn't relate. As an undergraduate, he had spent a semester working with at-risk youth in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico, and he wanted his legal career to have that same kind of meaning.
Then he was finally able to take a human rights clinic. "That was one of the things that really saved me when I was in law school," he said. "Clinics are invaluable." After graduation, he went on to work for several years as a human rights attorney and special assistant to Nobel Peace Laureate Oscar Arias.
As a law student, he advocated for a Colombian journalist beaten by police during an anti-government protest. Today, he and his own students at the law school's International Human Rights Clinic pursue similar cases of people who've been persecuted or illegally jailed.
Antkowiak's students directly represent real clients, write briefs for international cases, and present testimony to legislators on issues like the death penalty. In 2012, they won freedom for a Mexican man imprisoned for 12 years for a crime he didn't commit. They have advocated for a range of clients, from indigenous tribes in the Amazon to the Ugandan LGBT community to victims of abuse here in Seattle.
Fluent in Spanish, Antkowiak is married to an Argentinian human rights attorney who has occasionally served as his co-counsel. When he's not teaching or fighting international injustice, he keeps busy with their two sons, ages 5 and 2.