March 2019 Bar Bulletin
By Todd Bowers, KCBF President
Every spring here in the Pacific Northwest we can count on certain things. The Mariners’ perennial attempt to recapture the magic of 2001. The sweet-and-sour of Daylight Savings Time when we lose an hour, but suddenly it’s light (sort of) when we leave the office. The triumph of hope over experience when we (foolishly) plant tomatoes thinking we’ll actually get tomatoes later in the summer. And, yes, the King County Bar Foundation’s Breakfast with Champions, which is scheduled to be held this year on Wednesday, April 3 from 7:30 to 8:45 a.m. at the Sheraton Seattle.
What makes the Breakfast different than all of these other spring traditions? The guarantee of a positive outcome. What do I mean? Think about it. So much of society today is full of divisiveness and negativity. You see it every day when you turn on the television or radio, open any news app or log onto any social media site.
The Breakfast is the rite-of-spring antidote to all of that. It’s your opportunity to get together with 1,000 other King County attorneys and be served breakfast, good conversation and stories of hope and success, and be entertained by this year’s keynote speaker, former United States Attorney General Loretta Lynch. It’s also your opportunity to support, through your contributions, all of the great programs the King County Bar Association provides.
You know — or should know — about these programs:
- The Housing Justice Project, where staff and volunteer attorneys work to prevent homelessness by assisting low-income tenants facing eviction.
- Our Neighborhood Legal Clinics where volunteers provide free, 30-minute consultations at more than 30 locations around King County.
- The Family Law Mentor Program through which low-income parents with contested family law cases, involving at-risk children, can obtain legal representation and assistance.
- The Kinship Care Solutions Project where we provide free legal representation to relatives and other caregivers seeking third-party custody of children.
The Breakfast also supports diversity in the legal profession; something we all know is greatly needed. We were able to accomplish this goal last year through your contributions that provided more than $140,000 in scholarships to students at the Seattle University and University of Washington law schools.
The need for your help at this year’s Breakfast is real. Consider, for example, the homelessness crisis in King County. Not only do we read and hear about it every day on the news, but we see it every day as we commute to and from work.
The Housing Justice Project and the Seattle Women’s Commission released a report in September — “Losing Home: The Human Cost of Eviction in Seattle” — that underscores the problem. Of the 1,473 Seattle residents who were subject to eviction actions in 2017:
- the majority who were evicted owed less than one month’s rent;
- the majority in these actions were persons of color;
- the median judgment was for more than $3,000 (including rent owed, non-rent charges and legal costs); and
- perhaps most concerning, the majority of tenants who were evicted became homeless.
The one piece of good news that the study showed is that tenants’ chances of avoiding eviction significantly increased if they were represented by counsel.
Hope springs eternal — but only if you help by attending the Breakfast this year and contribute. So, this may not be the Mariners’ year. Springing forward may do nothing more than deprive you of that extra hour of much needed sleep. And, you may need to learn to enjoy fried green tomatoes.
But, you can come to this year’s Breakfast on April 3. You can see old friends and make new ones. You can be inspired by all the stories you hear and be entertained by Loretta Lynch. Most importantly, though, you can make a difference by supporting through your contributions all of the great programs the King County Bar Association offers to our low- and no-income neighbors, as well as the scholarships we provide to encourage and increase the diversity of our profession. We hope to see you in a few weeks.
Todd Bowers is the president of the King County Bar Foundation, the charitable arm of the King County Bar Association. Bowers is a deputy attorney general for the State of Washington where he supervises the Antitrust, Complex Litigation, Consumer Protection, Criminal Justice and Torts Divisions and the Civil Rights Unit. He can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.