Bar Bulletin

Bar Bulletin

Our History Will Inspire Our Future

July 2022 Bar Bulletin

Kaustav Das is a hard act to follow. Not only is he a beloved, self-described bar junkie whom everyone knows and loves, and who has deep knowledge of and passion for KCBA matched by only a few other people, but he is also funny. While I have done enough to perhaps pass as a bar junkie, unfortunately, I am not funny.

But what I lack in humor, I make up for in passion. Passion for the law, and for service. 

Service can appear in many forms depending on what you want to do. I personally devote significant time to pro bono work, community, and educational activities outside of my day-to-day practice because I believe it’s important for us to give back. There’s a quote by Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., that is always at the back of my mind: “Life’s most persistent and urgent question is: What are you doing for others?” 

It is one of the reasons I am in awe of the founders of KCBA. I believe it was bold and brave of them to stand up against discriminatory laws that singled one particular community — Chinese people under the Chinese Exclusion Act. They stepped up at a critical time, recognizing that the legal community needed to act to protect vulnerable immigrants and take a stand to protect the rule of law. 

This history deeply resonates with me. As an immigration attorney who has seen similar actions in our country in recent times, I am greatly inspired by the founders. During the last administration, I felt like I was constantly battling adverse immigration policies that directly affected my clients and the entire community that I serve. Collectively, as immigration attorneys, we were not only exhausted but facing major capacity issues. There simply weren’t enough of us to meet the burgeoning demand for service. I knew instinctively that bridging the gap between those who needed help and those able to provide it would require tapping into the non-immigration lawyer community. And one of those projects was accomplished through KCBA. Thanks to KCBA, and particularly to Anne Daly and the neighborhood legal clinic team, the city of Seattle’s Office of Immigrant and Refugee Affairs, and the Washington Chapter of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, AILAWA, we were able to provide assistance to large numbers of vulnerable immigrants. Together we created one of the country’s first novel large-scale legal clinics where immigration lawyers were paid a stipend to help recipients of DACA, Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals.

The clinics are but one example of the values that KCBA has upheld since 1886. Past President Mark Fordham wrote a beautiful historical summary of KCBA in his article entitled “King County Bar Celebrates 125 Years of History.” In it, he noted that KCBA was set up as a local bar rather than a social club, so there could be disciplinary actions against the attorneys who participated in the anti-Chinese action, as well as provide more just legal leadership in King County. 

And KCBA has lived up to its standards, delivering legal leadership at every turn, in every decade, at every opportunity, evolving in its services as necessary. 

Now, as we enter a new year, we will face more challenges and potentially long-lasting changes both within KCBA and externally, especially if the U.S. Supreme Court issues decisions that could have profound consequences on the ground, whether on reproductive rights, immigrant rights, or in other areas. 

But with challenges come opportunities. Our collective legal experience in every area of law will give us the opportunity to step up, like our founders did, to serve, as problems emerge. And our history, and our mission, will be our North Star, to take us into the future — a future that will meet the shifting needs of our members and of our community.

Our members are the soul of this organization. In a post-Covid era, I hope we can adjust our activities to continue to bring value to our members. To that end, feel free to let me know if you have specific thoughts on what would help you. I am honored to be of service and would love to hear from you! 
 

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