Law school names first Leadership for Justice Fellow
A new lawyer committed to improving access to the court system for people with limited English skills and deaf and hard of hearing individuals was named the first Leadership for Justice Fellow from Seattle University School of Law.
Kristi Cruz ’08 is with the Northwest Justice Project, continuing work she started as a student with the Washington State Coalition for Language Access. Her project includes training, litigation and creation of policies and procedures to increase awareness of and compliance with the legal requirement to provide access to services to clients with limited English skills and deaf and hard of hearing persons in Washington.
Cruz has been an American Sign Language interpreter for 17 years, including interpreting in courtrooms, where she saw the challenges - and sometimes devastating results - that deaf people experienced because of communication and systemic barriers present in the legal system.
The selection committee reviewed several outstanding applications. Committee members, including alumni and good friends of the law school who have been involved in the equal justice community in Washington for many years, agreed there has always been a great need for language access needs to be addressed by the courts and state agencies.
"Feeling voiceless as an interpreter to address those barriers, I decided to go to law school," Cruz said. "I am absolutely honored to have been selected as the Seattle University Leadership for Justice Fellow, and I'm excited to begin working on this project that allows me to combine my experience and commitment to language access with my law degree."
Seattle University School of Law is the only law school in the state to offer a post-graduate fellowship. The fellowship provides a salary of $40,000 for one year to a Seattle University School of Law graduate to work with a host organization on a specific social justice project. The Leadership for Justice fellowship demonstrates in a tangible way the School of Law's commitment to educating outstanding lawyers who are leaders for a more just and humane world.