Updated: April 17, 2024

Small Town and Rural Committee

The WSBA Small Town and Rural — STAR — Committee is committed to strengthen and support the practice of law in the rural communities throughout Washington state. Members of the STAR Committee will work to ensure that the practice of law in rural communities is present, growing, and thriving.

Practitioners in rural communities are few and far between. Additionally, many of these practitioners are nearing retirement without a clear plan of succession for their clients, leaving a void of access to legal representation and counsel. The STAR Committee members will guide policy and program development, serve as ambassadors between the WSBA and these communities, explore and advocate for creative and innovative solutions, and regularly assess the legal landscape in rural communities to determine if WSBA policy, advocacy, and program development require further resource for sustainability and improvements. To learn more about the STAR Committee's purpose, composition, scope of work, and roles, review the STAR Committee Charter.

The formation of the STAR Committee is the result of work conducted by the Rural Practice Project.

Meet the STAR Committee Members


Kari Petrasek, Chair
Term: Oct. 1, 2022–Sept. 30, 2024

Sunitha Anjilvel, Board of Governors member
Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30, 2024

Kathryn Burke, Rural Member
Current Term: Oct. 1, 2022–Sept. 30, 2025
Full Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30, 2025

Elizabeth Penoyar, Rural Member
Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30 2024

Merf Ehman, Qualified Legal Service Provider Member
Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30, 2024

Laurie Powers, Gonzaga Law School Member
Current Term: Oct. 1, 2022–Sept. 30, 2025
Full Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30, 2025

Erin Lloyd, University of Washington Law School Member
Current Term: Dec. 1, 2022–Sept. 30, 2024
Full Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30, 2024


Hunter Abell, WSBA President
Current Term: Oct. 1, 2022–Sept. 30, 2024
Full Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30, 2024

Rusty McGuire, Rural Member
Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30, 2024 

Jesse Lamp, Rural Member
Term: Oct. 1, 2023–Sept. 30, 2026

Zachary Bryant, Young Lawyer Member
Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30, 2024

Allison Foreman, At-large Member 
Current Term: Oct. 1, 2023–Sept. 30, 2026
Full Term: Oct. 1, 2021–Sept. 30, 2026

Ashley Cummins, Seattle University Law School Member
Term: Oct. 1, 2023–Sept. 30, 2026 

Matthew Dresden, Board of Governors liaison
Term: Oct. 1, 2023–Sept. 30, 2024

Staff Liaison: Julianne Unite, julianneu@wsba.org

Staff Support: Chelle Gegax, michelleg@wsba.org

For questions, please email Committee Chair Kari Petrasek or staff liaison Julianne Unite.


Next Meeting

NOTICE IS HEREBY GIVEN by the Washington State Bar Association that a Small Town and Rural Committee meeting will be held on:

Date: April 17, 2024 │  Time: 12:10 p.m.  │  Location: Virtual via Zoom

Join the Zoom meeting.

Meeting ID: 815 7000 4025 || Passcode: 684632

The purpose of the meeting is for the committee to discuss, deliberate, and take potential final action regarding the following agenda items (no final disposition regarding any matter will occur at the meeting except as indicated on this notice).


  1. Introductions and Approval of March Meeting Minutes (Gov. Kari Petrasek)
  2. WSBA Updates (Gov. Petrasek and Julianne Unite)
  3. Subcommittee Report Updates, if any (Subcommittee chairs Laurie Powers, Gov. Petrasek, Betsy Penoyar
  4. Project Team Updates
    1. Job Fair at Gonzaga (Laurie Powers)
    2. Summit Project Team (Laurie Powers)
    3. Rural Day of Service (Kathryn Burke, Kari Petrasek)
  5. FY25 Budget Discussion (Kari Petrasek, Julianne Unite)
  6. Announcements
  7. Next Steps/Conclusion
  8. Next Meeting: May 22, 2024  
  9. Adjournment 

Meeting Materials Packet


Reasonable accommodations for people with disabilities will be provided upon request. Please email julianneu@wsba.org.

Note: Discussion and action may be taken on any item on the agenda. The time and order of agenda items are subject to change at the discretion of the committee chair.

Upcoming Events: 

Friday, April 5, 2024: 

Rural Practice: Small Towns, Big Opportunities - 2nd Annual Virtual Hiring Event 

This FREE event connects attorneys and law students with Washington State legal employers with offices more than 40 miles from Spokane, Seattle/Tacoma, or Vancouver/Portland urban areas. This event is hosted by Gonzaga University School of Law, in partnership with the WSBA Small Town & Rural Practice Committee, Seattle University School of Law, and the University of Washington School of Law. This two-part event features pre-selected and scheduled interviews for open positions (AM segment) and “drop-in” sessions to connect participants informally (PM segment). You may register to participate in either one, or both, segments of the event.

More information and registration details.

Rural Practice Summer Internships 

Rural Practice Summer Internship Grant Pilot Program Applications due April 22, 2024 

This program aligns with the WSBA mission and is authorized through GR12.2(a)(2)&(8), by 
promoting an effective and accessible legal system and by administering programs of legal 
education. The purpose of this pilot internship program is to assist in building a pipeline of 
rural attorneys who will help narrow the legal services gap in rural communities throughout 
the State of Washington. 

WSBA Rural Practice Summer Internship Pilot Program Proposal

STAR Summer Internship Grant Application

Rural Practice Internship Acknowledgement Nonprofit Government Employer

Rural Practice Internship Acknowledgement by Private Employer

Past Meeting Materials & Minutes

FY 2024

October 2023
November 2023
January 2024

FY 2023

January 2023
February 2023
March 2023
June 2023
July 2023
September 2023

FY 2022

October 2021
November 2021
January 2022
February 2022
March 2022
April 2022
May 2022
June 2022
July 2022
August 2022