Updated: May 19, 2020

Civil Rights Law Section

Approved by the WSBA Board of Governors in December 2008, the Civil Rights Law Section invites you to become a member. 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. Any other interested person may become a non-voting subscriber of the Section upon payment of annual dues.

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 with a mental or physical disability; and the impoverished; as well as issues regarding 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 was formed in 1933.

Annual Report  |  Budget  |  Bylaws  |  Year in Review

Apply to Serve on the Section Executive Committee

Nominations Close May 29

View the Volunteer Position Description, which provides a general overview of section executive committee officer positions and may differ for some sections. For more information about the Section and its Executive Committee roles, please review the Section’s bylaws. Voting will begin in June 2020.

The following positions are open for applications. All terms begin Oct. 1, 2020.

  • Chair: one-year position beginning Oct. 1, 2020, and ending Sept. 30, 2021.
  • Chair-elect: one-year position beginning Oct. 1, 2020, and ending Sept. 30, 2021.
  • Secretary: one-year position beginning Oct. 1, 2020, and ending Sept. 30, 2021.
  • Treasurer: one-year position beginning Oct. 1, 2020, and ending Sept. 30, 2021.
  • At-Large Member (three positions open): three-year position beginning Oct. 1, 2020, and ending Sept. 30, 2023. 

Apply online through your myWSBA profile. The Section has requested that each applicant submit a statement of interest to be included with your application. These documents can be uploaded with your online application (PDF format only).


Feel free to contact any member of the current Section Executive Committee or email sections@wsba.org.

Honoring a Legacy

The WSBA Civil Rights Law Section Honors the Legacy of the Rev. 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. This year, the Civil Rights Law Section's statement honoring Dr. King's legacy was done in collaboration with WSBA President Bill Pickett and can be found in the January 2019 edition of the NWLawyer

Read the full statement here.

WSBA Civil Rights Law Section Annual Awards

Each year, the Civil Rights Law Section recognizes individuals or organizations who have made a notable contribution to the cause of civil rights. Recipients are persons or entities who have championed the cause of equality for impoverished, underserved, minority or disabled populations in Washington state. Examples of exemplary work in this area would include, but are not limited to, those who regularly fight on local or state government levels for expansion or defense of civil rights protections, or who represent or advocate on behalf of people or issues concerning civil rights or basic human rights.

Distinguished Service Award

Recipients are attorneys who have demonstrated throughout their career perseverance and commitment to the expansion or defense of civil rights protections at the local, state or national level. 

Keep of the Flame Award

Recipients are legal professionals or legal organizations whose work carries forward civil rights protection, keeping the flame alive of past civil rights movements for future generations.  Nominees are legal professionals or legal organizations whose demonstrated commitment to protecting and advancing civil rights brings hope to members of the Civil Rights Law Section that our futures are in good hands.

The Civil Rights Law Section Executive Committee created this award in 2020 to encourage and honor those in the first half of their careers who use the tools of the legal profession toward societal healing and justice.  The first person to receive this award will be honored at the Civil Rights Law Section's Annual Membership Meeting and Reception in September 2020.

Frances B. North Civic Leader Award

Recipients are attorneys, individuals or organizations that represent or advocate on behalf of people or legal issues regarding civil rights, civil liberties, or basic human rights such as freedom from discrimination, protection from abuse, or obtaining essential human services such as food, healthcare and shelter.

The Civil Rights Law Section renamed its Civic Leader Award in 2019 to honor the life of Frances B. North (1919-2017), a Seattle civic leader known for her role in uniting the business sector, public schools, and city government to end segregation.  Frances North was the first African American woman allowed to work on the sales floor of Bests/Nordstrom.  Frances brought friends, relations, and colleagues of diverse economic, cultural, religious and ancestral backgrounds together to fight for civil rights and to celebrate in style.  We honor those who carry her spirit and fortitude with this award.

2016 Awards

Distinguished Service AwardAdam Moore
Civic Leader AwardLuis Moscoso

2015 Awards

Distinguished Service AwardProfessor Michelle Storms
Civic Leader AwardLarry Gossett & Bob Santos  (joint award)

2014 Awards

Distinguished Service Award: Lembhard "Lem" Howell, Esq.
Civic Leader Award: Kathleen Taylor, Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington
Civic Leader Award: Washington United for Marriage

Left to right: Tracy Flood, former WSBA Board of Governors member and founding Chair of the Civil Rights Law Section; Lem Howell, Esq., 2014 Distinguished Service Award recipient; Alec Stephens, Civil Rights Law Section Chair; Kathleen Taylor, 2014 Civic Leader Award recipient and Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington






June 2017  │  Winter 2015  │  Summer 2014

Archived issues are available to section members upon request. To request an issue, please email sections@wsba.org.

Executive Committee

ChairMolly Matter

Chair-ElectLeticia Hernandez

Secretary: Fred Diamondstone

Treasurer: Bridget Shaw

Immediate Past Chair: Sarah Derry

Young Lawyer Liaison: Vacant

BOG Liaison: Alec Stephens*

At-Large Members:
Kathleen Kline (2017-2020)
Jaime Hawk (2018-2021)
Trena Berton (2019-2020)
Chalia Stallings-Ala'ilima (2019-2022)

*Non-voting member

The WSBA Civil Rights Law Section Executive Committee generally conducts meetings 12 noon - 1:30 pm on the third Tuesday of each month at the WSBA offices and via web conference. Please contact committee member for specific details on their upcoming meeting dates and locations.

For general questions, please email your inquiries to sections@wsba.org. To get involved with the Section and for more information, please contact the Section Chair, Molly Matter.