June 2015 Bar Bulletin
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June 2015 Bar Bulletin

Outstanding Young Lawyer: Joanna Plichta Boisen

By Arthur Shwab

 

"They came to the United States with nothing and gave me everything," said Joanna Plichta Boisen as she reflected on her parents' immigration from Poland in 1986.

Boisen, KCBA's 2015 Outstanding Young Lawyer, knew she wanted to be an attorney from a young age. After a lawyer helped her family navigate a land use problem, Boisen became keenly aware of the unique position of lawyers in our society and their capacity to advocate for individuals, families and communities in need.

Now a partner at Foster Pepper, Boisen runs the firm's robust Pro Bono Department, which has been recognized as one of the nation's top 10 by the National Law Journal. Foster Pepper contributes more than 4,000 hours of pro bono work a year and supports over 100 nonprofit organizations. Boisen is also the proud founder of the firm's diversity program, as well as numerous other social responsibility initiatives.

Boisen has received countless awards and recognitions, including Puget Sound Business Journal's "40 under 40" and Washington Law and Politics Rising Star. In 2014, Boisen received Seattle Met'sLight a Fire Extraordinary Pro Bono Contribution Award for leadership and management of Foster Pepper's Domestic Violence Impact Project and In-Shelter Legal Clinic. In collaboration with KCBA and dozens of volunteers, the project has assisted hundreds of women, who are experiencing domestic violence, to navigate the legal system.

"Through Joanna's initiative, domestic violence survivors have representation in their protection order proceedings," said Kim Todaro, managing attorney of KCBA's Family Law Services Program. "The Domestic Violence Impact Project offers clients representation in the most emergent time, as they are typically leaving a very dangerous situation. The DVIP steps in to catch survivors at their most vulnerable place."

Boisen's capacity for service extends beyond her leadership at Foster Pepper and defies the number of hours in a year. She is the incoming president of the Alumni Board of her alma mater, Seattle University School of Law. She serves on the boards of directors for both LAW Fund & Campaign for Equal Justice and Wayfind (formerly WAACO); on the pro bono committees of the Washington State Bar Association and the Federal Bar Association; on the National Association of Pro Bono Counsel; and on the United Way of King County Legal Steering Committee, just to name a few. She also happens to be the executive editor for the Polish Film Festival and a regular blogger for SeattlePI.com.

Boisen grew up in Federal Way and now lives on Mercer Island with her husband, Matt (also an attorney), and their two children.


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