Justice Mary Fairhurst (’84), has made working for the community a lifelong passion. For the last 28 years, Fairhurst has not only served in the public sector, but has also worked in pursuit of access to justice and respect for the dignity and worth of every individual. Justice Fairhurst received an honorary Doctor of Laws degree from Gonzaga in 2006 as well as the Women’s Law Caucus Myra Bradwell award.
Tell us about yourself and your work
I am a justice on the Washington State Supreme Court. I decide cases that affect every person in the State of Washington. I also get to work on committees and commissions to improve the administration of justice. I regularly speak to the public and school students about the court and inspire them to believe in themselves and their ability to make a difference.
Personally, I am the daughter of Stan and Mary Fairhurst. I am the oldest of their seven children. I have 12 living nieces and nephews. In my first 18 years, I lived in Oregon, California, Washington and Hawaii. With the exception of my year at Gonzaga-in Florence, I have lived the last 39 years in Washington, first in Spokane and then in Olympia.
What do you most enjoy about your profession?
What I enjoyed most about being a lawyer was helping people and agencies with real problems. As a justice, I now enjoy making decisions that address real problems and give answers, direction and guidance to the parties and lawyers. As a lawyer and justice, I like the intellectual challenge, the creative thinking, the persuasive writing and the problem solving.
What is the most challenging aspect of your profession?
The most challenging aspect is finding a good life-work balance, getting all of the reading done, and knowing when I have done enough.
Why did you choose to attend law school?
I chose to attend law school because I wanted to make a difference. I was told from a young age that I would make a good lawyer. I think others thought this because of my ability to argue logically and persuasively and my outspokenness when I perceived an injustice.
How has your Gonzaga education influenced your career?
I came from a family that for generations had strong Jesuit influence, was service oriented and believed in the dignity of every many woman and child. Gonzaga reinforced all of these values. For thirty years, I have served in the public sector–first, as a judicial clerk at the Supreme Court for two years, then as an Assistant Attorney General for 16 years, and now as a justice for 12 years. The education and training I received at Gonzaga and the friends I made there have positively influenced my career and my life.
What else are you passionate about?
I am passionate about children. I love teaching them and being with them. They are our future.
Justice Fairhurst is currently serving her second term as Washington State Supreme Court Justice, and will be kicking off her campaign for a 3rd term at Barrister Winery in Spokane at 5 p.m. on May 14th.