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 of the Section. 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 who are mentally or physically disabled, the impoverished, and the homeless; 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 association was formed in 1933.

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 2015-2016.

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


Nominations Sought for Civil Rights Law Section Awards — New

2013 Awards

The WSBA Civil Rights Law Section's Civil Rights awards were presented at the Section's annual event on Sept. 13, 2013. Nominations were received, and the following individual and group were voted as recipients of this year's awards.

Distinguished Service Award: 
Hon. Charles V. Johnson (retired)

 Left to right:  Corbett Gordon, Section Executive Committee; Judge Charles V. Johnson, Distinguished Service Award recipient; Lembhard Howell, Keynote Speaker; Alec Stephens, Section Executive Committee Trustee 


Civic Leader Award 
Washington United for Marriage  






Civil Rights Law Section Weighs In on Draft Resolution Regarding Arizona Immigration Bill 

At the June 2010 WSBA Board of Governors meeting, the Board's Diversity Committee proposed a resolution, at the Board's request, in response to immigration legislation passed in Arizona (SB 1070). The resolution was then referred to the Civil Rights Law Section for review and recommendations. The Section solicited feedback from other WSBA sections and at the BOG meeting on Sept. 23, 2010. Section Chair Tracy Flood of the Civil Rights Law Section presented the Board recommendations regarding the draft legislation.

Diversity Committee — draft resolution on Arizona SB 1070 

Civil Rights Law Section recommendations to the Board 

The Civil Rights Law Section Executive Committee (EC) had its annual meeting on January 23rd.  The EC members are excited that the section is growing and looks 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 EC is focusing on current societal issues which implicate civil rights concerns likely to include 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.  The section actively promotes legislation as approved by the Board of Governors where it supports or enhances civil rights. 

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.

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

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

LBAW was presented with the Civic Leader Award for their service and commitment to Civil Rights. Lorena Gonzalez was present with the Distinguished Service Award for her dedication and leadership in the area of Civil Rights Law. Lorena was also 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.

woman with a headsetContact the Section

For general questions, please email your inquiries to To get involved with the Section and for more information, please contact the Section Chair, Alec Stephens.  

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Section Administration

Bylaws, Annual Report, and Executive Committee


View upcoming events

Current Bill Referrals

Bills referred to WSBA sections for review and any positions taken during the current legislative biennium


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