with Gov. Dan Ford
Dan Ford represents the Seventh Congres- sional District-North on the WSBA Board of Governors. He works for Columbia Legal Ser- vices in Seattle, where his practice focuses on employment and civil rights representation on behalf of immigrants. This is his third and final year serving on the Board of Governors.
1Why did you want to serve on the WSBA Board of Gov- ernors?
Among many reasons, I wanted to further the WSBA’s efforts to advance equal justice for low- and moderate-income
people. The WSBA has played a key role in helping to fund
legal services programs during the great recession, developing pro bono home foreclosure programs, and working with
law schools on moderate means legal representation. The Bar
is now working to expand pro bono services in rural areas,
and support “low bono” efforts. As part of equal justice, the
WSBA must also address changing technology in the profession. Technology can provide a degree of access to the legal
system, but it can also tilt the playing field when parties have
2What is the most important lesson you have learned about WSBA members since you’ve been on the Board?
The WSBA has an incredible number of devoted volunteers.
Thousands of volunteer lawyers serve in areas including diversity, court rules, judicial recommendations, amicus briefing, professional ethics, and discipline. On the Board, we see
excellent, demanding work done by committees, sections,
and individual lawyers. The WSBA could not accomplish
nearly what it does for the profession and the public without
our outstanding volunteers.
3What decision or accomplishment are you the most proud of from your service on the Board?
I was privileged to work with the Latina/o Bar Association
of Washington and other minority bars and organizations
in a successful petition for the Supreme Court to declare
that using immigration status for intimidation is unethical.
Attorneys representing immigrants had reported that immigration coercion was a serious, recurring problem that
interfered with the fair administration of justice. After years
of effort and consultation with ethics experts, the Board recommended that the Supreme Court adopt a formal Comment
to RPC 4. 4, addressing the use of immigration status in civil
matters (see “The Unethical Use of Immigration Status in
Civil Matters,” MAR 2014 NWLawyer, p. 30). The Supreme
Court unanimously adopted the proposed Comment, stating
that express or implied threats to report immigration status,
or actually reporting immigration status, is unethical where a
lawyer seeks to intimidate, coerce, or obstruct a party or witness. The Comment went into effect in September 2013.
4What has been the most difficult decision you had to make as a governor, and why?
Like my colleagues on the Board, I struggled with the budget
realities resulting from the referendum on WSBA licensing
fees. One affected program was the WSBA Leadership Institute (WLI). This exceptional program recruited, trained, and
developed traditionally underrepresented attorneys for future
leadership positions in the legal community. Each class of WLI
participants produced community legal resources, such as
a legal guide for youth turning 18. Graduates of the program
quickly became leaders in the legal community. When the budget crunch hit, the WSBA and the University of Washington
found a collaborative way to continue the program, housing it
at UW. While the program had to be restructured with fewer
Bar resources, I believe that the WSBA will do what is necessary to support the program and continue its ties to the Bar.
5Can you share one thing we may not know about you?
I’ll swim in Lake Washington when it’s cold enough that it’s
just me and the dogs out there — but I won’t chase sticks. NWL
TAKE 5 lets you learn a little more about your Board of Governors. If
you have further questions for Gov. Ford, he can be reached at dan.
firstname.lastname@example.org or 206-287-9652.