Civil Rights Law Section

Civil Rights Section LogoApproved by the WSBA Board of Governors in December 2008, the Civil Rights Law Section invites you to become a member. Section membership is open to any active member of the WSBA, as well as specially admitted members such as emeritus, military, or foreign house counsel. Inactive attorneys, law students, and non-attorneys are encouraged to join as non-voting members.

The Civil Rights Law Section sponsors CLEs on civil rights law and provides a forum for activities with civil rights organizations throughout the state. The Section focuses on the practice and policy of civil-rights law, which includes the rights of racial, ethnic, religious, and sexual-orientation minorities; immigrants; those with a mental or physical disability; and the impoverished; as well as issues regarding freedom of speech; freedom from state-promulgated religion; and privacy rights.

The Section developed out of the WSBA Civil Rights Committee, which had been a standing committee since the Bar was formed in 1933.


A Message from Our Secretary

Hello, this is Daniel Gallagher. I am the current secretary of the Executive Committee for your Civil Rights Law Section. In that role, I am responsible for keeping the minutes for our monthly meetings and updating the website. 

Thank you for choosing to be a member of our section. The section is growing and it is a very exciting time to be a member. It's fair to say that our civil rights are being challenged as local and national security concerns confront community members. From the federal Patriot Act to use of force by police, especially against minorities from New York to Seattle, Miami to L.A.


Nominees for 2017-2018 Section Elections

Elections will be conducted at the section's upcoming "Pressing Issues in Civil Rights Enforcement" CLE and Annual Meeting on Sept20, 2017 at the WSBA Offices. Get more information and register for the CLE.

Sarah Derry, Incoming-Chair. This position is a three-year commitment: one year as chair-elect (2018 term), one year as chair (2019 term), and one year as outgoing chair (2020 term). 
Sarah served as the section's Young Lawyer liaison 2015–2016 and as an Executive Committee member in 2016–2017. She is an attorney with Cline & Casillas, a Seattle labor and employment law firm. Prior to joining Cline & Casillas, she was an associate attorney with Bean Law Group, a clerk for the Alaska Supreme Court, and a law clerk with Bean Porter Hawkins.

Dan Gallagher, Secretary (incumbent), one-year term
Dan has been an Executive Committee member since 2014-2015 and currently serves as the section secretary. Since 1996, he has been in private practice and running his own law firm, Northwest Pro Law, Gallagher Law Office PS. Dan represents individuals in disputes involving employment, breach of contract, consumer protection, and civil rights. In employment cases, he represents professional and salaried employees as well as hourly workers.

Bridget Bourgette Shaw, Treasurer (incumbent), one-year term
Bridget has been an Executive Committee member since 2014-2015 and currently serves as the Section Treasurer. She is owner and principal at Shaw Law Group PLLC, which has offices in Seattle and Redmond. Her firm represents individuals on education, civil rights, and discrimination lawsuits. Prior to starting her own firm, she was an associate attorney with Hecker Wakefield & Feilberg, P.S., for over six years and a law clerk for the King County Bar Association's Self Help Plus Program.

Fred Diamondstone, At-Large/Trustee, three-year term ending in 2020
Fred is a member of the Civil Rights Law Section and recent co-chair of the 2017 CRLS & WSBA CLE "A Look at Police and People of Color – Racial Progress or a Deepening Racial Divide." With more than 30 years of legal experience, he is the principal at Fred Diamondstone Law, where he represents individuals in accident and personal injury cases, as well as government misconduct claims. He has handled cases against state and local governments, including Osborne v. Seymour, 164 Wn. App. 820 (2011) (Sheriff’s DV Unit sergeant’s liability to DV victim for an improper “civil standby’); Abasheikh vs. King County, et al, which resulted in a substantial settlement for failure to protect a young man from a brutal assault by juvenile delinquents; Alley-Barnes v. Sackman, et al., a police-misconduct case that revealed significant shortcomings in Seattle’s police accountability system; and class action jail conditions cases involving Pierce and King Counties.

Kathleen Kline, At-Large/Trustee, three-year term ending in 2020
Kathleen served as the section's Young Lawyer liaison 2016-2017. She is an associate at Michael & Alexander PLLC, which focuses on employment litigation and general litigation. She also served as a law clerk to Hon. Ann Schindler of the Washington State Court of Appeals, Division I. While at the University of Washington School of Law, Kathleen served as chief managing editor of the Washington Law Review and president of Street Youth Legal Advocates of Washington (SYLAW). And she successfully worked to exonerate wrongfully convicted prisoners as a member of the Innocence Project Clinic Northwest. She also volunteers with the United Way of King County’s Free Tax Campaign and at the Country Doctor Legal Clinic.



Mentorship Mixer

On June 23, 2016, the WSBA MentorLink and Civil Rights Law Section cosponsored a free mentorship mixer for new and young lawyers at BlueAcre Seafood in Seattle. The theme of this mixer was "Incorporating Civil Rights Law into your Legal Career" and featured three keynote mentors Fred Diamonstone, Amy Kim, and La Rond Baker.









WSBA Civil Rights Law Section Annual Awards

Each year, the Civil Rights Law Section recognizes individuals or organizations who have made a notable contribution to the cause of civil rights. Recipients are persons or entities who have championed the cause of equality for impoverished, underserved, minority or disabled populations in Washington state. Examples of exemplary work in this area would include, but are not limited to, those who regularly fight on local or state government levels for expansion or defense of civil rights protections, or who represent or advocate on behalf of people or issues concerning civil rights or basic human rights.

Distinguished Service Award
Recipients are primarily attorneys who have demonstrated in their career regular work for the expansion or defense of civil rights protections at the local, state or national level.

Civic Leader Award
Recipients are attorneys, individuals or organizations that represent or advocate on behalf of people or legal issues regarding civil rights, civil liberties, or basic human rights such as freedom from discrimination, protection from abuse, or obtaining essential human services such as food, healthcare and shelter.



2016 Awards

Distinguished Service Award: Adam Moore
Civic Leader Award: Luis Moscoso

2015 Awards

Distinguished Service Award: Professor Michelle Storms
Civic Leader Award: Larry Gossett & Bob Santos

2014 Awards

Distinguished Service Award: Lembhard "Lem" Howell
Civic Leader Award: Kathleen Taylor, Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington
Civic Leader Award:  Washington United for Marriage

Left to right: Tracy Flood, former WSBA BOG member and founding Chair of the Civil Rights Law Section; Lem Howell, 2014 Distinguished Service Award recipient; Alec Stephens, Civil Rights Law Section Chair; Kathleen Taylor, 2014 Civic Leader Award recipient and Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington











Honoring a Legacy

The WSBA Civil Rights Law Section Honors the Legacy of the Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

The mission of the Civil Rights Law Section is to educate and advocate for civil liberties and equal rights in the context of the legal issues of Washington state residents. Included in the statement are highlights of how the section is advocating their mission in 2016-2017.

Read the full mission statement released by the WSBA Civil Rights Executive Committee.



2015 Annual Meeting

The Civil Rights Law Section Executive Committee had its 2015 annual meeting on Jan. 23. The committee members are excited that the section is growing and look forward to making the section an effective voice for civil rights advocacy both within the Bar and in the community in 2016. Stay tuned for updates on upcoming CLE and other events, including a section happy hour where we hope to recruit new members as well as meet up with existing members.

The 2015 CLE covered the Voting Rights Act and was a great success. The CLE was streamed online and we had good participation online and at the event itself. Plans for a 2016 CLE are in the works. If you have any suggestions for topics, please drop us a line. At this point the EC is considering an all-day CLE in September with possible topics to include the ADA in its 25th year; guns; police misconduct; race relations and discipline at school; violence. As you can see, the Executive Committee is focusing on current societal issues that implicate civil rights concerns and legal questions relevant to membership.

The Section also supported a Washington State Voting Rights Act, which passed the House and Senate Rules Committee, but did not make it to the floor in the 2015 session. The Section actively promotes legislation that enhances civil rights as approved by the Board of Governors. 

Section members should be receiving the Newsletter via email for more current section information. If you were a member last year but haven’t received a copy, please let us know.



First Annual Meeting

On July 30, 2010, the Civil Rights Law Section held its first annual meeting in conjunction with the CLE program "Urgent Issues in Civil Rights: Human Trafficking, Immigration and Police Accountability" at Seattle University School of Law.

The Section elected officers to serve in 2010–2011. In addition to Sharon Payant, current chair-elect, who will serve as chair, other newly elected officers include Patricia Paul, chair-elect; Wilberforce Agyekum, secretary; and Michelle Raiford, treasurer.

Chair Tracy S. Flood and Chair-elect Sharon Payant presented awards to the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington (LBAW) and M. Lorena Gonzalez.  

LBAW received the Civic Leader Award for their service and commitment to civil rights. Lorena received the Distinguished Service Award for her dedication to and leadership in civil rights law. Lorena also served as a panelist for the police accountability portion of the CLE, "Policing the Police." Every seat was filled for the event.

The association's purpose and mission is to represent the concerns and goals of Latino attorneys and to actively participate with the legal community in Washington state. M. Lorena Gonzalez of Schroeter, Goldmark & Bender is dedicated to representing people in employment matters, wage and hour class actions, police misconduct, and sexual assault cases.


Contact Us

woman with a headsetFor general questions, please email your inquiries to sections@wsba.org To get involved with the Section and for more information, please contact the Section Chair, Kelli Schmidt.

Calendar of Events

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