The Hon. Robert Alsdorf
Distinguished Jurist in Residence
Judge Alsdorf has had a lengthy and varied career. He served as a Peace Corps volunteer from 1967 to 1969 in the rainforest of Sierra Leone, West Africa. His assignment was to teach African history to secondary school students in that newly independent country. Inspired by the turmoil of the 1960's to go to law school and seek to achieve social justice, and not wanting to waste a year after his return simply to apply to law schools, he arranged to take the LSAT in a teachers' college just off a dirt road in a small Sierra Leonean village. After receiving an M.A. in American History along with his J.D., he began his legal career in 1973 in the Civil Rights Division of the United States Department of Justice. He followed that by working as a trial lawyer in antitrust, consumer protection and complex commercial litigation, ultimately setting up a small litigation firm with a friend. In 1990, he became a King County Superior Court Judge. During his time on the bench, he served a term as Chief Civil Judge and also took various leadership positions locally and nationally relating to the handling of complex and high profile litigation, including working with the Mass Tort Litigation Committee of the National Center for State Courts.
In the past fifteen years, he has worked nationally and internationally in various judicial and legal education programs, traveling to locations as disparate as Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Malaysia, Nicaragua and Uganda. He is also currently heading up the ABA's efforts to help Sierra Leone rebuild its court system after its twelve-year brutal civil war. Judge Alsdorf, who graduated Phi Beta Kappa with honors in History from Carleton College and is a 1973 graduate of the Yale Law School and the Yale Hall of Graduate Studies, is the author of "The Sound of Silence: Thoughts of a Sitting Judge on the Problem of Free Speech and the Judiciary in a Democracy," Hastings Constitutional Law Quarterly, Vol. 30, No. 2 (August, 2003) and "Judicial Independence and Judicial Accountability: An Elected Judge's Perspective," published by the Commonwealth Lawyers Association in 2003 in a volume entitled Judges and Judicial Accountability.
While a judge, he received four Judge of the Year awards from attorneys' groups. He retired from the bench in 2005, and since that time has focused on arbitration, mediation, litigation, and appeal of complex cases and has been listed in "Best Lawyers in America" in both Alternative Dispute Resolution and Appellate Law. As a Jurist in Residence at Seattle University School of Law, he will be working with students and professors in many of the school's programs, including but not limited to legal writing, the law clinic and dispute resolution, as well as helping develop new programs relating to judicial education here in the United States and abroad.
Seattle University School of Law
Phone: (206) 398.4320