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 Reverend 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: 
Honorable 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 


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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