Commentary: Support access to justice at UW Law event

Meadowdale High grad Alyssa Fairbanks is a UW Law student. (Photo courtesy Alyssa Fairbanks).

Meadowdale High School graduate Alyssa Fairbanks is a third-year University of Washington law student and president of the UW Public Interest Law Association (PILA) She sent word about an upcoming benefit to fund greater access to justice:

“I have personally benefited from PILA’s grant process during my first summer in law school when I worked at the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights in Seattle, and in my second summer I worked at Columbia Legal Services in Seattle on education, juvenile justice, and housing access advocacy.

“I could not have performed this important work without grants from PILA, which is a student-run 501(c)(3) non-profit organization dedicated to promoting legal work that increases access to justice, serves the greater good, and improves the quality of life for individuals in our community. Each year PILA awards grants to UW law students pursuing their passion for public interest legal work in unpaid positions. PILA raises the majority of its funds at its annual benefit auction.

“Lack of access to justice is a serious problem in our society. Legal aid services, public interest law and government agencies serve this need. However, these programs are often underfunded and under staffed. Our grants allow law students to pursue their passion in public interest law, gain valuable experience, and serve an important need in the community.

“Last year we raised $65,000 at our Auction and gave out 22 grants that assisted Disability Rights Washington, KCBA Housing Justice Project, Unemployment Law Project, Northwest Immigrant Rights Project, King County Department of Public Defense, Snohomish County Public Defenders Association, Whatcom County Public Defenders Office, Federal Public Defense Office for Western District of Washington, King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Bellevue City Attorney’s Office, Columbia Legal Services, Children and Youth Project, U.S. Department of Labor, Office of the Solicitor- Seattle, Alaska Legal Services, Oregon Law Center, Human Rights Watch, Legal Voice, Our Children’s Trust, YWCA – Sexual Violence Legal Services, EarthRights International, and Landesa.

“One of our grants in its second year is Law for Black Lives grant. This goes to a student of color and/or a student doing work that specifically addresses institutional racism and legal work serving minority communities.

PILA Access to Justice supporters raise funds at the annual event. Photo courtesy PILA.

“This year’s auction is Feb. 24, and the theme is a masquerade ball. The final day to buy tickets is Feb. 15. Tickets can be purchased here.

“If you can’t make it to the auction, please consider a donation. If you have a question, please email me at or




Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *