Access to Justice/Starbucks Partnership
Free legal advice will be available to residents of Seattle’s SoDo neighborhood and surrounding areas at a new Community Justice Center located at Starbucks headquarters, created in partnership with the Access to Justice Institute.
Attorneys and staff from Starbucks Law & Corporate Affairs department will support the centers on their own time at twice-monthly sessions starting in April, which were designed in cooperation with the Access to Justice Institute.
The first session was April 10 on anti-harassment orders. Other meetings scheduled so far will address the basics for starting a small business, consumer debts and identity theft, small claims court and the basics of employment and unemployment law.
The innovative partnership between the law school and the company illustrates the commitment both have to providing legal services to the community.
“It demonstrates the depth and breadth of commitment we have to access to justice issues,” said Paula Boggs, Starbucks executive vice president and general counsel.
Boggs said Starbucks partners (employees) have a long history of volunteering, and this new center is an extension of that.
Sudha Shetty, director of the Access to Justice Institute, said the new center will make important services available to more people, complementing the existing Community Justice Centers in Seattle’s Central District and International District.
“It’s a great honor to partner with Starbucks,” SU Law School Dean Kellye Testy said.
The purpose of the Community Justice Centers is to facilitate access to legal services by offering free topic-based legal education and advice to low-income and under-served community members. At the other centers, pro bono attorneys are recruited from law firms, law offices and law school faculty. These attorneys are assisted by SU law students.
The work of the Access to Justice Institute reflects the mission of Seattle University School of Law to educate lawyers who distinguish themselves through their outstanding legal skills and their dedication to law in the service of justice. Since its founding in 1999, the Institute’s goal has been to provide quality volunteer experiences for law students while fulfilling unmet legal needs in King County.