By Jennifer J. Payseno
I have been asked to explain why I joined and have been an active member of the King County Bar Association. For me, the answer is simple. I could not imagine practicing in King County and not being part of such an integral organization. The question for me is more, "Why Not Be Involved?"
I am a family law practitioner at McKinley Irvin and have practiced in King County since my admission to the bar in 1992. I represent persons who face very significant issues involving child custody, domestic violence and financial issues related to divorce. I wanted to be involved to ensure that we as an organization offer opportunities to those in need of legal services and that we maintain a judiciary that provides exemplary services to our public.
My involvement in KCBA began shortly after being admitted to practice law. It was an opportunity for me to meet other members and to assist me in developing my career, though at the time I had no idea how much more I would gain from my involvement in KCBA.
With one of KCBA's focuses being pro bono legal services, I began by volunteering with the legal clinics program and was fortunate to assist in the opening of a new clinic in Federal Way. Being involved in the development and opening of the clinic has been a highlight for me. The legal clinics provide a resource to those individuals who have a need for legal services, but cannot afford them. I still recall certain individuals I met while volunteering, such as a grandparent who needed to take custody of their grandchildren on an emergency basis due to drugs and abuse.
I also volunteered for the Housing Justice Project to assist persons facing evictions. I did not have any experience with real estate but, with training and experience provided through the HJP, I learned to identify issues and represent clients through negotiations or presenting the matter at hearings. Quite often this would result in allowing a tenant more time to find new housing or to protect the tenant from uninhabitable conditions. The extreme gratitude from those we serve was the reason I continued to volunteer for the HJP.
Later, I became involved in working on various KCBA committees, primarily the Judicial Screening Committee and Judicial Conferencing Committee. The Judicial Screening Committee provides evaluations and ratings for judicial candidates and has allowed me to learn more about the judges elected to King County Superior Court by taking part in the process. For our clients, it is critical that they have confidence in the person who is deciding their case. In family law this involves life-changing decisions, and I believe it is my duty as a lawyer to be a part of the evaluation of the judges who will decide cases for the public.
The Judicial Conferencing Committee helps to evaluate sitting judges and assess their performance on the bench. This is critical to ensure that the public is receiving the highest level of performance when appearing before a judge for a decision.
In addition to being involved on committees, I became involved initially as a trustee and then as an officer of KCBA. I am finishing my second year as treasurer and will be completing my term in June. I am fortunate for the opportunities that this has provided me.
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