tled! During the seven months between
the denial and the Supreme Court’s
unanimous holding in my favor, I
battled overwhelming fear and anxiety.
However, I also found peace by utilizing
the spiritual principles of my recovery
program, and from the encouragement
of an overwhelming cross-section of the
legal, judicial, legislative, recovery, and
Through a lot of guidance and mentorship, I learned the power of my own
story to inspire others and how we can
organize together to educate the profession and make necessary changes that
allow space for healing, justice, redemption, and second chances. I am pleased
to hear about WSBA’s commitment to
an “inside-out” approach to diversity
and inclusion, which will encompass
implicit bias training with staff and
volunteers on committees and boards,
including the Character and Fitness
Board, and continued work towards a
diverse and inclusive profession. The
willingness of the WSBA to recognize
there is still progress to be made takes
great humility and courage. For me, if
my pain can make this process better
for others coming up behind me, then it
was all worth it.
Because of the uncertainty surrounding my licensure, I had to change the
content of my Skadden Fellowship.
I’ve attacked the barriers to reentry
through more systemic policy reform
and legislative advocacy. I was honored
to work with many stakeholders as we
changed laws in Washington state this
year to provide fair chances in employment and higher education, in addition
to progress toward LFO reform. This is
real change for the better. But I’m very
excited that I have now received my
license because I will have the opportunity to start representing others who
are also in need of a second chance.
I also hope to continue the efforts
A CALL TO POSITIVE CHANGE
to make the legal profession a viable
option for people who have experi-
enced incarceration and have since
transformed their lives. There is value
in having a profession that is repre-
sentative of the community it serves.
Oftentimes, clients I’ve assisted have
shared with me how they trust me more
because they feel understood and be-
lieve I can empathize through a shared
experience. In addition, if a formerly
incarcerated lawyer practices criminal
defense, they will be uniquely qualified
to prepare clients for incarceration, and
may also have deeper insight into the
many ways collateral consequences can
The court rules governing admission
need to be flexible and are therefore
open to subjective interpretation —and
subjectivity is subject to bias, however
unconscious. It will take hard work and
commitment to build an inclusive bar.
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that needs help
with an L&I claim.
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