Last Wednesday was Seattle University Law School’s annual holiday party, an event that always makes me feel very connected to the community of lawyers here in Washington. Many of the faculty attended. And I had a chance to congratulate Lisa Brodoff, who with her partner Lynne, was stopping off at the Thurston County Courthouse on the way to their Olympia home to pick up the first-issued marriage license in the county at the stroke of midnight.
Several Supreme Court justices were there. I talked briefly with Justices Debra Stephens, Steve Gonzalez, and Susan Owens, and I had a longer chat with my former boss, Justice Charles Johnson. I caught up with Hozaifa Cassubai, a new Washington Leadership Institute fellow for 2013, and Alia Ahmed, a 2012 fellow, about their WLI experience. But mostly I chatted with old friends, too numerous to mention here, about their careers and families and hobbies. I came away from this event, as I do every year, marveling at the number of great people who practice law.
Thursday night I attended a legislative dinner hosted by the Board of Judicial Administration. I had a chance to meet three new legislators worth keeping an eye on. Roger Freeman (D-30th Dist.) is a Federal Way City Council member and a criminal defense attorney. Dave Sawyer (D-29th) is working at John Ladenburg’s Tacoma firm as a Rule 6 intern. And Chad Magendanz (R-5th) is a software engineer from Issaquah. They all seemed a lot more knowledgeable than their freshman status would indicate.
Friday I attended two noteworthy events. The first was a meeting of Attorney General-Elect Bob Ferguson’s transition team. The principal subject of discussion was the Attorney General’s legislative agenda. Bob is putting together an ambitious plan to improve the Foreclosure Fairness Act, tackle juvenile crime, and enhance enforcement of environmental protection laws. If you have ideas for Bob, I would be happy to pass them along to his staff.
Finally, I attended the Diversity Stakeholders Meeting at the WSBA office. The consultants who did last year’s membership survey presented more material gleaned from the study. Of particular interest are the factors WSBA members cited as important for job satisfaction, which is the most important predictor of career stability. The lesson I drew was that mentoring is probably the single most effective thing that we can do to enhance our members’ job satisfaction and keep them in the profession. This was true for all lawyers and particularly true for diverse lawyers. But it was also apparent that there are a lot of ineffective mentoring programs out there. Our challenge is to try and identify the elements of good mentoring and make that information available to law firms, law schools, county bars, minority and specialty bars, and anyone else who is interested. We need to improve the formal mentoring programs and to encourage more informal mentoring among our members.
Have a great week!