Equal Justice Advocate Joins SU to Spearhead Legal Aid Training Program

Ada Shen-Jaffe, an expert dedicated to providing quality legal services for all, has joined Seattle University School of Law as distinguished public interest practitioner in residence. She also will advise the university provost on leadership development for a more just and humane world and will anchor the West Coast headquarters of Legal Aid University.

Seattle University School of Law is the first law school in the nation to partner with Legal Aid University, which will establish a national training institute serving legal aid and pro bono lawyers, clinical law programs and other partners. Law School faculty will support design and development of LAU’s online and in-person curricula and training programs. Shen-Jaffe’s first project will be strategic planning, organizational and leadership development for LAU.

Former statewide director of Columbia Legal Services and Evergreen Legal Services, Shen-Jaffe is known for her decades of leadership in the service of justice for the poorest and most marginalized people in society. She is a key architect of Washington’s civil equal justice community and has been honored by many equal justice and legal professional organizations.

“Ada’s experience and insight will strengthen the law school’s ability to integrate the equal justice vision with our mission to educate lawyers dedicated to the service of justice,” Dean Kellye Testy said. “She will expand the law school’s reach into the broader community and help us meet our obligation as professionals to ensure that equal justice is a reality for all and not an empty promise.”

Funding for civil legal aid has failed to keep pace with the increasingly complex and desperate legal needs presented by low-income and disadvantaged individuals and communities, Shen-Jaffe said. LAU will help change that by establishing a national training infrastructure whose online aspects will eliminate barriers such as geographic distance and travel costs. This will put top quality legal aid-specific training within easy reach of staff lawyers, pro bono lawyers, clinical law programs and other equal justice advocates.

“By reducing cost, time and other barriers to participation, we can leverage and expand attorney resources for the equal justice community,” Shen-Jaffe said.

Chief Justice Gerry L. Alexander of the Washington state Supreme Court applauds the move. “While Washington has made significant strides in addressing the civil legal needs of vulnerable and low-income people, the delivery system is still not accessible to the majority of poor people with important civil legal needs,” he said. “LAU’s groundbreaking collaboration with the law school will result in a national training support infrastructure capable of expanding staff and pro bono attorney resources, and of transmitting our vision of equal justice for all to the next generation.”

Provost Susan L. Secker said Seattle University is honored to welcome Shen-Jaffe. “‘LAU at SU’ is another important project that will further distinguish this law school as one that trains great lawyers who measure their success by the degree to which their efforts make this a more just and humane world,” she said.

For more information, contact Shen-Jaffe at (206) 398.4161 or Shen.ja@seattleu.edu, or Katherine Hedland Hansen, Director of Communications, at (206) 398.4108.