Noah Purcell to be Sunday keynote

Appointed in 2013, Purcell represents Washington State in some of its most important appellate matters in state and federal courts. In February, Purcell received national attention for successfully challenging the Trump Administration’s first travel ban Executive Order.

Purcell choosing to speak at the conference is about more than sharing legal insights. He will be in a room with others who choose to advocate for the rights of people who often have the least access to representation and corridors of power. Conference attendees will recognize Purcell’s journey, including how the choices for advocacy and the skills to succeed formed over years not days.

For Purcell, one can go back to his childhood, when his parents chose to live in a neighborhood known for racial and economic diversity. As Noah’s mother said, their children learned cultural and ethnic diversity was “not something to fear, but to be embraced.”

The journey and the lessons continued at the University of Washington. Here, he and Jasmin Weaver, a classmate from high school who would become his wife, felt the first sterile chill that comes with lack of diversity.

Said Jasmin in an interview, “Noah and I went to Franklin High School in Seattle, an inner-city public school where most of our fellow students were from low-income families in which neither parent had gone to college. We saw firsthand that many of our classmates did not go on to college because their families lacked the resources to pay for tuition, room and board and other expenses. That experience made us both committed to fighting to ensure that public colleges and universities in Washington remain affordable.”

Turning awareness to action, they formed Affordable Tuition Now! (ATN!) at UW, a student group advocating for more financial aid and accessible tuition prices. Jasmin sued the university after it charged students an energy fee and won.

Listening to Purcell, conference attendees may find themselves taking a moment to reflect on those moments and times in their life when choices of who to stand with and up for were made.

After UW, Purcell received a Masters in Economics from University College Dublin and a law degree at Harvard, where he served as an editor of the Harvard Law Review. Noah then served as a law clerk to Judge David Tatel of the United States Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit, and to Justice David Souter of the United States Supreme Court.

At 37, the journey found him arguing what he’s called the most important case of his life in front of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals. Perhaps he was both motivated and comforted that part of his journey includes his mother-in-law, who emigrated from Iran and became a U.S. citizen. Said Purcell, “I don’t have a … monolithic view of any of these countries as a scary place.”

Share the journey with Noah Purcell at the conference, register now.

Access to Justice Conference Agenda On-Line, Time to rally

Our Access to Justice Conference agenda is now on-line. Take a look to see how you can connect with likeminded advocates coming together to reenergize, renew and rally.

“This is go time for the civil legal aid community. The time has come to register and get your hotel rooms,” said conference co-chair Ishbel Dickens. “The planning committee has worked really hard over the last couple of months, taking over thirty proposals and blending them into opportunities to share, learn and interact toward a common purpose.”

Break-out sessions will give you tools and knowledge to take on race equity issues, breakdown institutional silos, and create partnerships.

Our plenary sessions give you Ted Talk-style input and interaction with leaders in our movement. “It’s a world café approach,” said conference coordinator Diana Singleton. “Leaders will share key insights, then a moderator will lead us in table discussions so we can connect those insights to our daily reality. What will emerge are ways to reenergize the movement, set goals and organically build the next wave of leadership.”

All of this is spiced with landing two extraordinary speakers: Congresswoman Pramilia Jayapal on Saturday, and Washington State Solicitor General Noah Purcell on Sunday. In the next couple of weeks, we’ll be sharing more about their leadership and what they’ll bring to the conference. For now, suffice to say they know we’re in the trenches, they’ve got a story to tell, and they’ll leave you more energized then when you came.

Of course, the conference wouldn’t be complete without the informal networking we thrive on. The Justice Joint will have an open space format this year, and there are receptions both Friday and Saturday night.

So register now, then rest up for 48 hours of rocking access to justice.

A time to re-energize, revitalize and rally

We live in edgy times.

The 2017 Access to Justice (ATJ) Conference June 2-4 in Yakima, WA. This is your time to reflect, find your place, and pick your path forward to meet the challenges of ensuring civil equal justice in the Evergreen State. Learn more and register now.

In the current climate, immigration and health care are like surround sound to the intellectual senses of the civil legal aid community. They’re omni-present as you click on your web browser, receive a tweet, turn-on the TV or thumb through the newspaper.

There is no mystery about those being impacted the most.  Experience and research show that those most at risk are those with the least means. They are the disadvantaged, underrepresented and underserved that are the background threads to the fabric of our society. They are the marginalized ones that the civil legal aid community aims to represent.

The broader question is how to respond. Conference co-chairs Ishbel Dickens and Beth Leonard embrace the conference as an inflection point for those conversations. As the conference only happens every other year, they see the timing of meeting this June as particularly good and welcome.

Said Ishbel, “This is a time to reenergize and remind each other that the work we do does make a difference. Particularly given the tone and actions from national leadership, the conference gives likeminded advocates a chance to breathe and reflect.” Continued Beth, “It’s a time to keep our heads high, revitalize the movement and support building the next wave of leadership and social justice.”

For a movement to build and be effective, they see it as needing participation from all parts of the state and all types of case work. “The conference provides that,” said Beth. “We’re lucky. Our roots go back to 1994 when the Washington State Supreme Court established the ATJ. Our state is working from a foundation others don’t have.”

Both note that while ATJ issues ebb and flow over the years, meeting the needs of the poor as an unprotected class does not. “What you get at the conference,” said Ishbel “is the opportunity to learn and network across a range of topics and issues. Right now, we’re in the process of selecting from a wide variety of session proposals. It’s exciting to see the diversity, and the commitment of people to share. The energy is very apparent.”

“As someone who’s been a student and young lawyer at previous ATJ conferences, that’s gold,” commented Beth. “Being encouraged and mentored is foundational to keeping the movement going.”

What they describe is community renewal. Those in the movement for years welcome those who are new; a wave of thought and bodies emerge to take on immigration, health care and other challenges; and the tools to find one’s place and be successful come into focus.

Said Ishbel, “Now more than ever we need new solutions for old problems. This is our time to rally, break-down silos and evolve.”

Why the Access to Justice Conference is Important and Why You Need to Be There

The Access to Justice (ATJ) Conference is a bi-annual event, being held this year in Yakima on June 2-4.

Planning for this year’s Conference is well underway and there is sure to be something for everyone, whether you practice in the civil or criminal field, or whether you are a community partner or member of the bench. Register Now

This year, we will feature more opportunities for big picture discussions across disciplines, while also providing space for networking and resource development.  No Conference would be complete without social activities and to that end we will enjoy a reception on Friday evening and libations at a local winery on Saturday evening.

Regardless of where you are in your legal career, and given the shifting sands upon which we all appear to be standing, attendance at this year’s ATJ Conference is more vital than ever. Indeed the Conference’s theme, “Racing to Justice: Community Lawyering to Bend the Arc,” affirms that this is not a time for despair, but for bold life-affirming action that will bring everyone to a place of equity and fairness. We look forward to your attendance at the Conference as together we build a movement where justice for all becomes a reality.  For more information, please contact Diana Singleton, ATJ Board Manager, at:

Ishbel Dickens and Beth Leonard, ATJ Conference Planning Committee Co-Chairs

Workshop proposals being accepted for Legal Advocates Training and Access to Justice Conference

Click here to submit workshop proposal for Statewide Legal Advocates Training or Access to Justice Conference.

The Access to Justice Board is very pleased to announce the 2017 Access to Justice Conference, June 2-4 in Yakima, WA. This conference provides an opportunity for attorneys, judges, and others advocates and community members working within the civil, criminal, and juvenile justice systems to come together to build collective knowledge, participate in discussions, and work toward identifying and removing the barriers to justice experienced by disadvantaged people and communities in Washington State. To further this movement work, the 2017 Conference theme is: “Racing to Justice: Community Lawyering to Bend the Arc.”

Immediately preceding the Access to Justice Conference, on May 31 and June 1 in Yakima, is the Statewide Legal Advocates Training, which will convene attorneys and other front-line and case-handling advocates from across the Alliance for Equal Justice and other legal advocacy organizations in Washington State. This training provides a unique opportunity for advocates to develop their skills and substantive law knowledge in service to clients. This year’s training theme is “Shoulder to Shoulder: Pursuing Equity and Justice.”

Deadline for submission is Friday, February 3, 2017.