June 2013 Bar Bulletin
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June 2013 Bar Bulletin

Why I Am Proud - and Inspired - To Be a KCBA Member

By Ken Masters


Why am I proud to be a KCBA member? That's easy: KCBA leads. Every year it coordinates the volunteer efforts of literally hundreds of attorneys seeking to serve the courts, the bar and the public. It leverages our dues into thousands of volunteer hours. It transforms our membership into a real force for good.

That said, the wonderful folks at the KCBA have asked me to tell you about my experiences volunteering with KCBA and elsewhere. The value of those experiences can be summed up in one word: inspiration.

After practicing in Tacoma for a number of years, I joined KCBA when I started practicing in King County in 1995. From the beginning, there were opportunities. Asked to volunteer at the Fremont Legal Clinic, I fairly quickly became a co-director. Meeting with experienced volunteer attorneys and staff, while helping out folks who could not afford our services, all in a well-managed organizational setting, was inspiring. KCBA really made it feasible for a new lawyer struggling to establish his career to take on a practicable amount of meaningful pro bono work.

After several years in that work, I looked for new inspiration. The Judicial Screening Committee (now the Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee or JCEC) looked interesting. As it turned out, it was a phenomenal committee to serve on. For the public, the JCEC presents our bar's considered opinion regarding the qualifications of the people who wish to serve as judges. Professionally, it was invaluable to meet so many experienced, caring and wise attorneys and lay people volunteering countless hours to evaluate judicial candidates (the JCEC at times has had as many as 70 volunteers).

Over 10 years of service on that committee, including a term as a co-chair, meeting so many prospective (and sitting) judges, the experience was truly inspiring. In more than 20 years of chairing and serving on more than a dozen committees, I have never served on a more significant, valuable and rewarding committee.

And a wonderful fringe benefit came when the JCEC needed a new lay member. I immediately thought of the father of one of my closest friends (a wonderful musician I've played with for years) - Steve Cavit, Sr. The senior Cavit had a very successful career as an engineer, is an amazing athlete (he climbed Mt. Rainier to celebrate his 60th birthday), and has the rare combination of a scholar's mind with a saint's heart.

I knew his deep caring for social justice would make him an ideal committee member. He loved serving on the JCEC, which he did with distinction for seven years. We recently had dinner to celebrate his wonderful contributions to our judiciary and the public.

The inspiration that came from serving through KCBA also led me to volunteer through the WSBA, beginning with serving on and then chairing its Amicus Committee, and then a stint of about 10 years on its Court Rules and Procedures Committee, which I also wound up chairing. Over the years, I saw hundreds of lawyers working to ensure that our rules provide constitutional due process and an even playing field for all who come before our courts. Both the Board of Governors and the Supreme Court value this committee's great work, and I hope that you do, too.

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