Karen Denise Wilson was elected to the WSBA Board of Governors in September 2013. Shehas her own firm, KD Wilson
Law PLLC, and focuses on criminal defense. Previously she was a deputy public
defender with the Skagit County Public
Defender’s Office. Wilson is an alumna
of the 2012 Washington Leadership Institute, a partnership between the WSBA
and the University of Washington School
of Law. She received her law degree from
Tulane Law School.
1 Why did you want to serve on the WSBA Board of Governors?
I learned about and got exposure to the
Board during my participation with the
Washington Leadership Institute (WLI).
WLI recruits and trains traditionally underrepresented attorneys for future leadership roles in the legal community. Over
the course of my year as a WLI fellow, I got
to know Past-President Ron Ward and former At-large Governor Tracy Flood. Both
helped me see how service on the Board
aligned with my commitment to public
service. Without question, the opportunity to serve the legal profession and to
meet and get to know so many attorneys
across Washington has been the greatest
benefit of joining the Board.
2 What is the most important lesson you have learned about
Bar members since you’ve been on the
I have been moved by the number of volunteers contributing their time in service
to the Bar and the larger community. I
have had the opportunity through my
work on the Board to learn about and
meet a few of the hundreds of lawyers
across Washington who take time away
from their practice or paid employment
to volunteer and serve on sections, the
Character and Fitness Board, the Practice
of Law Board, the Diversity Committee,
the Access to Justice Board, and many
other organizations inside and outside the
WSBA that give back to the community. It
is absolutely inspiring.
3What decision or accomplishment are you most proud of from your
service on the Board?
It’s a tie. The decision I am proudest of is
the Board’s approval of a statewide mentorship program. A 2012 WSBA membership study showed that WSBA members
want and need mentorship, and showed
that lack of mentorship may impact retention in the profession, particularly for
diverse members. I believe MentorLink,
the mentorship program the WSBA is implementing, will provide training to new
lawyers and help seasoned lawyers transition to different practice areas. It will promote ethics, civility, and competency in
the profession. Additionally, the program
will help to promote retention of attorneys
of diverse backgrounds. The mentorship
program is one of many ways I hope that
I have contributed to advancing diversity
and inclusion at the WSBA.
The other accomplishment I am
proudest of is my role as treasurer of
the Board. I have gained a thorough understanding of how the WSBA works as
an organization. I have also had an opportunity as treasurer to be a member of
the executive committee, to shape what
the organization looks like, and to bring
important missions to a head.
4What has been the most difficult decision you had to make as a
governor and why?
License fees. An increase in license fees
impacts all of our members but can be
particularly challenging for our new and
young lawyers. I remember both being excited and struggling to pay my first year’s
membership to the WSBA as I looked for
my first job. This is one of many things I
thought about as the Board carefully examined our license fee structure.
From 2013–15, the WSBA has not only
continued to provide valued services
like our confidential ethics line and our
law office management assistance program, but has also added free CLE credits
through the Legal Lunchbox Series and
enhanced our Casemaker service for our
members — all with funding from a license
fee set at the 2001 level of $325. Yet the
reality is that sustaining even mandatory
regulatory and disciplinary functions at
the 2016 cost of business with funding
from the 2001–02 license fee rate is not
a possibility. Raising the license fees was
a difficult decision, but a necessary one.
When I think about it as a general mem-
ber paying the license fee, rather than as a
Board member deciding what the license
fee should be, I try to put it in context: my
annual license to practice law, plus the ad-
ditional services I value as a member of
the WSBA, cost less than I pay for three
months of cell service or three months of
5Can you share one thing we may not know about you?
I have a passion for travel. With the exception of Antarctica, I have traveled
to every continent multiple times. Next
up on the travel bucket list: Iceland and
Take 5 lets you learn a little more about
your Board of Governors. If you have further
questions for Gov. Karen Denise Wilson, she
can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
with Gov. Karen Denise Wilson
Top: On the roof of Casa Milà designed by Antoni
Gaudí in Barcelona, Catalonia, Spain. Bottom:
At Cuevas del Drach on the Balearic Islands of