Media Contact

Jennifer Olegario
Communications Manager

Phyllis Jean Barney Receives Washington State Bar Association Local Hero Award │ March 6, 2018

Updated: March 17, 2021

SEATTLE — The Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) is honoring Phyllis Jean Barney with its Local Hero Award in recognition of her career dedicated to public service and her extensive effort to coalesce and expand the local legal community’s volunteer work to represent those in need.

The Local Hero Award is given to those who have made noteworthy contributions to their communities. Barney was nominated by the Thurston County Bar Association. WSBA President Bradford Furlong will present the award at a luncheon at noon on Thursday, March 8, at the Red Lion Hotel in Olympia, open for press and legal-community attendees.

“Phyllis has dedicated her entire life’s work to public service,” said attorney Emily Nelson. “She has a wealth of knowledge and experience that she now shares with the local legal community here in Thurston County.”

Barney has served nearly a decade as an Assistant Attorney General for the state, helping to protect human and environmental health while representing the Department of Ecology on a wide range of procedural and litigation matters. At the office, she fosters an inclusive and equitable team environment by organizing projects like a Diversity Book Club and lending library focused on authors and stories that showcase often-marginalized voices and perspectives. Before earning her juris doctorate from Howard University School of Law in 2008, she volunteered in the Peace Corps in Kenya, served as a fishery biologist throughout the nation for the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, and was executive director of Folk Alliance International in support of world music communities.

Barney is Immediate Past President of the Thurston County Volunteer Legal Services, a program that brings together legal volunteers in Thurston, Mason, Grays Harbor, and Pacific Counties to provide free civil-legal aid to low-income residents. As such, she’s helped create a new direct representation program for indigent clients, is leading the organization’s strategic planning process, and is co-chairing the annual fundraiser. She is also a long-time volunteer for the organization’s legal-advice clinic, held at the SafePlace domestic shelter in Olympia. Barney serves on the board for the local chapter of the Government Lawyers Bar Association and recently served on the board of the Washington Women Lawyers Capitol Chapter.

“Suffice it to say, Phyllis’ pro-bono and volunteer service with the local legal community has been substantial,” Nelson said.

About the Washington State Bar Association

The WSBA operates under the delegated authority of the Washington Supreme Court and exercises a governmental function authorized by the Court to license and regulate the state’s nearly 40,000 legal professionals, including lawyers, limited practice officers, and limited license legal technicians. The WSBA both regulates legal professionals under the authority of the Court and serves its members as a professional association — all without public funding. The WSBA administers the Bar admission process, including the bar exam; provides record-keeping and licensing functions; administers the lawyer discipline system; and provides continuing legal education for legal professionals, in addition to numerous other educational and member-service activities. The Bar’s mission is to serve the public and its members, to ensure the integrity of the legal profession, and to champion justice.