A bold transformation

School of Law Annex now home to thriving skills programs

AnnexWhat started as a concrete, windowless building filled with university maintenance equipment and supplies is now the beautiful and functional Seattle University School of Law Annex. 

"The School of Law is all about transformation: transformation of what was a warehouse, of our students' lives and professional careers, and transformation of the world, with the work that we and our alumni do," said Annette Clark, interim dean. 

The School of Law Annex, at 1215 E. Columbia St., just a half-block from Sullivan Hall, opened June 1 after a dedication in late May. The 20,000-square-foot annex houses several programs that are key to the experiential legal education provided at the law school: The Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic, the Externship Program, the Seattle University Law Review and the Seattle Journal for Social Justice. 

It also includes two large high-tech classrooms, seminar rooms, and a multipurpose space that can be closed off with sliding frosted glass doors for smaller meetings. The remodel opened up the building in the public spaces, exposed the original wood and finish where possible, and provided up-to-date formal finishes in the classrooms and faculty offices. A glass bridge connects the two sides of the second floor, leaving the main floor open and light.   

"This gorgeous space is the perfect symbol of Seattle University's deep commitment to our students, faculty, clients, and this community, and to the critical importance of clinical legal education."
Lisa Brodoff, Clinic Director

The Ronald A. Peterson Law Clinic offers 13 different clinics in which students apply what they've learned in their substantive courses and in legal writing to the representation of real people with real and often critical legal problems that go to their access to food, shelter, housing, health care, protection from abuse, and denial of human rights.  The Externship Program allows students to work in judicial chambers or other supervised practice settings to gain invaluable work experience before graduation.

Brodoff compared the clinic and other programs to the glass bridge at the Annex entry. 

"When you walk across that bridge, you feel very exposed and maybe a tad insecure, and still excited to be in that place. But you know that you are really being fully supported by the glass and steel beams," Brodoff said.  "We, the faculty, are that bridge to practice for the students. We are there to support, cajole, question, guide, and encourage them every step of the way in their representation. And now we'll be reminded of that role every day we walk under that lovely bridge." 

University President Stephen Sundborg , S.J., said the School of Law Annex is further evidence of the law school's growing stature. He and Clark offered special thanks to the family of Ronald A. Peterson, for whom the clinic is named. He was an attorney who taught in the business school, who established both the undergraduate alumni relations and admissions offices, and who was one of the early founders of the St. Thomas More Society in Seattle. Peterson was instrumental in urging the university to include a law school among its colleges and schools.  

"Nobody was prouder than Ron Peterson when SU acquired the law school over 15 years ago," Clark said. "We are both proud and humbled to carry on the Peterson legacy and Ron's and his family's commitment to social justice. " 

The environmentally-friendly Annex was designed to meet LEED Gold certification. Olson Sundberg Kundig Allen Architects designed the building, and Sellen Construction was the contractor. 

View the construction from start to finish.

Summer 2010