Updated: Sept. 2, 2021

Equity & Disparity Work Group

Responding to the murders of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Tony McDade, Charleena Lyles, Manuel Ellis, and countless others by police officers, the nationwide uprisings addressing virulent racism in the United States, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and resulting economic devastation, the WSBA Board of Governors created the Equity & Disparity Work Group in June 2020.

On June 4, 2020, the Washington Supreme Court issued an open letter in response to many of these same events. The letter states, in part: “We call on every member of our legal community to reflect on this moment and ask ourselves how we may work together to eradicate racism.

The goal of the Equity & Disparity Work Group is to reckon with the harsh reality that laws, policies, and procedures in place in the legal system have historically led to disparate and inequitable results that disproportionately harm people of color. Achieving equity is impossible without meaningful access to justice, which necessitates addressing historical harms and challenging laws that facilitate injustices. As active participants in these systems, legal professionals are morally obligated to disrupt these gaps in justice.

The Equity & Disparity Work Group seeks to review rules, regulations, and laws related to the practice of law and administration of justice by identifying ones that impede real justice and fairness.  The Equity & Disparity Work Group will then propose solutions that mitigate harm caused by unjust rules and procedures to go before the Board of Governors.

Work Group Structure and Timeline

Work Group Roster

Composition

Work Group Chair: Alec Stephens

Subcommittee Chairs:

  • Laura Sierra (GR 12.2)
  • Kim Sandher (Experiences of the Justice System)

The Equity & Disparity Work Group membership consists of legal professionals that represent marginalized communities in the profession, as well as in society. This Work Group seeks to amplify the experiences of people that are closest to the problems and allow for solutions that can effect positive change for the legal system.

Charter:

  • Review the rules, regulations, and laws related to the practice of law and the administration of justice;
  • Identify the ones that facilitate injustice;
  • Solicit feedback from stakeholders, especially from marginalized communities; and
  • Propose remedies that the WSBA can advance pursuant to its mandate in GR 12.2.

Timeline

  • The Work Group will report to the Board of Governors every six months on its progress.
  • The Work Group will submit final written majority and minority reports with recommendations for rule changes to the Board of Governors by no later than the Board’s September 2022 meeting.
  • The Work Group will prepare and submit any rule changes supported by the Board of Governors to the Washington Supreme Court per GR9 requirements.

Meetings

For meeting dates and information about how to participate, please contact Barbara Nahouraii at barbaran@wsba.org.