What it’s Like Being a WSBA Law School Representative During Strange Times

Law student masked

Today’s law student were dealt a really bad hand. Then another bad hand. Then someone set the deck on fire.

Faced with a global pandemic, a massive civil rights movement, uncertain economic futures, and most recently a blanketing of smoke as much of the Western United States burns, it’s no small feat to manage three years of intensive legal study on top of that. Students of ’69 had the summer of love. Students of 2020 will probably get the literal winter of Westeros.

Even so, this year, as in years past, student representatives from Washington’s three law schools have partnered with the WSBA to serve as a vital link between their classmates and (hopefully) future professional regulator. Read on to learn what’s on the minds of the 2020-2021 law school representatives.

Dante Tyler, representative from University of Washington School of Law

law student masked

Like many of his classmates, Dante Tyler went to law school with hopes of changing the world.

“I have always wanted to make the world a better place,” he said, “and I knew that a great way to do this was through policy and systemic change.”

He pursued a position as the UW law school representative as a way to tap into the larger Washington legal community as well as a means of increasing his class’ passion to promote social justice.

“Social justice is a priority in everything that my class does, and they are fighting extremely hard to have a more robust and more substantial diverse voice within the legal community,” he said. “I look forward to helping students connect with lawyers of diverse backgrounds and experiences. … I hope that we can give students the resources required for them to be successful and healthy.”

Tyler plans to return next summer to K&L Gates, hopefully in person rather than this year’s “virtual summer,” and looks forward to continuing his work in mergers and acquisitions, as well as technology transactions. Further down the line he has his sights set on political office and working in the community.

COVID-19 created has exacerbated known issues in the legal profession and academia, such as untreated mental-health issues and mounting student debt, but Tyler said he’s witnessed students taking the time to comfort and help one another.

“These moments illustrate what the legal community can and should be, especially in the time of COVID,” he said. “The legal community seems to care for one another and want to protect each other’s mental health. … Relationships and connections have been one of the things that have drawn me so deeply into the legal profession, and I look forward to meeting many more interesting and passionate people throughout my career.”

Tyler can be reached at mailto:dantetyler32@gmail.com.

Joshua Grissom, representative from Gonzaga University School of Law

Joshua Grissom

Try as we might to avoid it, we usually turn into our parents. And as Joshua Grissom experienced, sometimes our parents give an intentional nudge in that direction.

“My mom was actually the one who encouraged me to sign up for the LSAT, even though I really didn’t want to take it at the time,” Grissom said. “Despite my initial pushback, I feel like I was partially inspired by her own law school experience in the Pacific Northwest, so it was only fitting that I end up following in her footsteps.”

Now entering his third year of law school, Grissom sees that he’s well suited to a legal career spent reading, writing, and arguing: “All things that I would be doing anyway,” he said. And he’s establishing new skills.

“My current internship with the City of Spokane really forced me to branch out of my comfort zone, as I was suddenly expected to speak in a courtroom setting on a daily basis,” he said.

Grissom threw his hat in as a WSBA law school representative because “it felt like an important opportunity to help students at Gonzaga University School of Law find the representation they needed while in the midst of a global pandemic.”

One of the other critical issues his classmates see is “the current inequality of our criminal justice system.”

“It’s imperative for the next generation of attorneys to educate themselves on the racial imbalances present in the criminal justice system, so they can one day bring about positive and meaningful change to the entire legal field,” Grissom said.

Students’ lives “have been turned upside down” this year, “But despite it all, we’re determined to reach the end of our law school journey and I’m confident we are going to come out the other side thoroughly prepared for anything else life might throw our way.”

Grissom can be reached at mailto:jgrissom@lawschool.gonzaga.edu.

Nathan Cathersal, representative from Seattle University School of Law

Nathan Cathersal

Originally, Nathan Cathersal set out to be treasurer for his class’ student bar association. Although he didn’t secure the seat, that election put him on the path to becoming a WSBA law school representative when the incoming class president tapped him for the position.

As a law school representative, he is looking forward to being a part of the policy debates within the legal profession, learning about the nuts and bolts of the WSBA, and bringing the information back to his school bar association.

“The class of 2022 is excited to work hard to aid the legal profession in its long-term goal of making peoples’ lives better and, from conversations I have had, that motivation far exceeds any goals revolving around personal income or comfort,” Cathersal said.

Cathersal decided to pursue a career in law “because unregulated capitalism negatively effects the vast majority of people living under it.”

“When entities value profit above all else, society is burdened by externalities and regulation is required to minimize those externalities …,” he said. “From police use of force and overcrowded prisons to international anti-democratic meddling, it is difficult to pin down specific issues law students at SU are critical of.”

At his class orientation, Washington Supreme Court Justice Mary I. Yu “spoke at length of social justice issues all too common in our day-to-day lives and how we, as one-day servants of the court, could have a genuine and lasting impact for the greater good.”

Before law school, Cathersal worked in health care and he hopes to eventually secure a judgeship in administrative law. Cathersal is now working on applications as a court clerk. After graduating and being admitted to the Bar, he hopes to return to the Washington Office of the Attorney General Medicaid Fraud Division, where he previously interned.

“I have always believed that strong regulation makes everyone freer while also protecting those who are not able to adequately protect themselves,” Cathersal said.

Cathersal can be reached at mailto:cathersalnat@seattleu.edu.