Justice G. Helen Whitener is at the intersection of several identities: a gay woman, someone living with a disability, a first-generation immigrant, and the first Black woman to serve on the Washington Supreme Court.
In a wide-ranging interview with Justice Whitener, which is the featured story in the latest issue of the new Washington State Bar News, Hon. Lisa H. Mansfield asked the mentor, educator, and trailblazing judge, “In our society, a combination of all five intersecting identities does not necessarily add up to a life of success and abundance. In your case, it has. What has been your journey to achieving such abundance?”
“Actually, these are society’s labels, not mine,” Justice Whitener responded. “I learned quite early, when remembering Daddy’s words, ‘To thine own self be true,’ that I would not be defined by any of society’s labels.”
Judge Mansfield and Justice Whitener go on to discuss her trailblazing career in law and the ways in which she thinks the profession and the justice system need to change and grow: “‘I would suggest that we get away from thinking of inclusivity in terms of numbers … Instead, why not determine first how to be inclusive?”
But that’s not the only Supreme Court justice who appears in this issue of WSBA’s member magazine. Mansfield also interviews Justice Sheryl Gordon McCloud, co-chair of the Washington Supreme Court’s Gender and Justice Commission, and they explore the new commission study, “2021: How Gender and Race Affect Justice Now.”
Also in the issue, which publishes during Black History Month, Loren Miller Bar Association President Lionel Greaves IV explains the history of the association and provides an overview of its ongoing work to assist the Black community. David A. Lawson and Judith L. Andrews give a detailed account of the new Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act, which was drastically overhauled after a multi-year process involving myriad stakeholders throughout the state.
In other regular columns, Mark Fucile goes over the problems that can arise with common or joint representation, WSBA Governor and Treasurer Bryn Peterson goes over the latest FY 22 budget numbers, and WSBA Executive Director Terra Nevitt opines on what legal professionals and the Bar can and should do to help dismantle systemic racism.
Also this month, WSBA President Judge Brian Tollefson (Ret.) provides an overview of the latest Supreme Court-ordered analysis of the Bar’s structure in light of recent lawsuits. If that sounds familiar to the Bar structure review conducted in 2019, it is—President Tollefson will help make sense of the process to date.