Education is a major component of the work of the Initiative, and conferences at Seattle University School of Law and elsewhere are a major part of that effort.

The Defender Initiative will hold its Fifth Annual Conference on Public Defense on March 6, 2015, at Seattle University School of Law. Washington’s Supreme Court has fully implemented its first in the country court rule on defender standards, including caseload limits. The recent historic Federal Court order requiring two cities to improve their public defense system has had ripple effects across the state and nationally. Across the country, New York State settled a lawsuit against it and agreed to improve public defense services in five counties, contributing millions of dollars to do so. This conference will address these issues as well as re-entry, diversion, and how lawyers can help their clients with post-sentencing issues.

The keynote address will be by Frankie Guzman, a juvenile justice attorney at the National Center for Youth Law, Oakland, California who advocates for alternative sentencing for young offenders. Mr. Guzman served six years in the California Youth Authority before going to college and graduating from UCLA Law School.

The Defender Initiative held the Fourth Annual Conference on Public Defense on March 7, 2014. The program agenda and CLE materials are available here. Many defenders and assigned counsel wonder what the next steps will be in the implementation of the new Supreme Court certification rule on standards. The conference sought to answer those questions and included discussion of the study of case weighting of misdemeanor cases. The conference also addressed the implications of the Saintcalle decision on race bias in jury selection, and how defenders can effectively address their clients' civil legal issues both before and after sentencing. Members of the team that won the Wilbur case in Federal Court against two Washington cities because of systemic failure to provide effective representation discussed implications of that decision. The lunchtime keynote speaker was Seattle University School of Law Professor and former public defender Janet Ainsworth discussing how defenders can prevent wrongful convictions caused by false confessions.

The Defender Initiative held its Third Annual Public Defense Conference this past March 8, 2013. Among the speakers were Attorney General Bob Ferguson, Justices Susan Owens and Sheryl Gordon McCloud, King County Prosecutor Dan Satterberg, Federal Defender Tom Hillier, and nationally known Professors Norm Lefstein and Kim Taylor Thompson, both former directors of the D.C. Public Defender Service. The conference commemorated the 50th Anniversary of Gideon v. WainwrightCLE materials and schedule are available here.

The Second Annual Defender Initiative Conference on Public Defense took place March 2, 2012. Attended by over 100 participants, the topics covered included how defenders can respond to racial disproportionality and race bias in the criminal justice system, the upcoming implementation of a court rule requiring compliance with standards, including caseload limits, the ongoing problems of misdemeanor defendants pleading guilty without counsel, "crimmigration," and how defenders can use software in trying cases more effectively. Professor Bryan Stevenson, one of the nation's leading civil rights advocates and champions of the need to provide effective representation for people facing the death penalty, was the keynote speaker. The program brochure is available here.  On the following day, the Initiative hosted a brainstorming session for a dozen defender and bar leaders from Washington and Oregon to discuss strategy for reform.  The Initiative received support from law firms and individual lawyers and the General Electric Corporation.  The program was co-sponsored by The Washington Defender Association.

The First Annual Defender Conference took place February 25, 2011. The conference brought together defenders, assigned counsel, judges, and other criminal justice system professionals to address a wide range of issues. Please see the schedule and list of speakers and conference materials. Tom Hillier, Federal Defender for the Western District of Washington, was the keynote speaker. On the day after the conference, the Initiative hosted a brainstorming discussion for invited defender, bar, and legislative leaders to discuss strategy for reform. The next conference, which will recognize the 50th anniversary of the Gideon v. Wainwright decision, is scheduled for March 8, 2013.

In concert with the Louisville, Kentucky Public Defender office, the Initiative presented a seminar at the Louisville Bar Association January 27, 2012,  entitled The Right to Counsel: Why It's Important and How It Serves the Interests of all the Stakeholders in the Criminal Justice System. The program featured presentations by and discussions with a Kentucky Supreme Court justice, several judges and prosecutors, defenders, and a psychologist who is an expert on language comprehension.  Professor Boruchowitz discussed both the problems he has observed in providing counsel in Kentucky and diversion ideas to remove minor non-violent offenses from the courts and to reduce defender workloads.

The Initiative hosted a continuing education seminar on November 6, 2009 entitled, "Why there should be lawyers in misdemeanor first appearances: What they should do for their clients and how to get resources to hire them." The event was well attended and evaluations were strong. Conference materials are available, as well as PowerPoint presentations from Prof. Boruchowitz and Sophia Byrd McSherry.

Professor Boruchowitz presented a Webinar entitled, "The Defender Initiative's Counsel at Arraignment Project: Building on Our Success," for The Washington Defender Association about the Misdemeanor Counsel project and the right to counsel at arraignment, on January 22, 2010.

On June 11, 2010, the Korematsu Center and the Defender Initiative sponsored a CLE on "Ethics and Effectiveness of Practice in Treatment Courts" at the Seattle University School of Law.