On October 8-10th, 2009, Gonzaga Law School hosted the fall business meeting of the American Bar Association Presidential Advisory Council on Diversity in the Profession (ACD).
The ACD works to increase the number of people of color in the legal profession. This work starts with students when they are in grade school and ends when they pass the bar.
The visit by the ACD was incorporated into Gonzaga Law School’s annual “Building Bridges” week. This week is dedicated to discussion and education around the many facets of diversity within the law and the legal profession. The week’s keynote address was delivered by Ruthe Ashley, Chairperson of the ACD.
The highlight of the week occurred on Friday, October 9, when Gonzaga Law School played host to 75 high school students participating in the “Color of Justice” law day. Partners in this event included the GEAR UP college preparatory program, the Washington Gender and Justice Commission, the Washington Minority and Justice Commission, and the law firm of Perkins Coie.
The high school students, the 25 volunteer attorneys (including members of the ACD), and the volunteer law students were welcomed by Washington State Supreme Court Justice Debra Stephens and treated to an inspiring talk by Federal District Court Judge Richard Jones. They spent the remainder of the day preparing for, and conducting, four simultaneous mock trials which were heard by Judge Jones, Justice Susan Owens, Washington State Appeals Court Judge Ken Kato (ret.), and Spokane County Superior Court Judge Linda Tomkins.
The “Color of Justice” event was followed by an evening reception to present the Carl J. Maxey Diversity Scholarship to two Gonzaga Law students, who are committed to promoting diversity within the Spokane community. This annual scholarship is generously awarded by the Spokane County Bar Association Diversity Section.