June 2013 Bar Bulletin
 
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June 2013 Bar Bulletin

PRESIDENT'S AWARD: Kaustuv M. Das

By Richard Mitchell

 

Each year, the KCBA president has the unique privilege of granting the President's Award to a member of the bar or KCBA Board of Trustees who has gone beyond the call of duty to mentor, support or even assist the president in his or her duties. It is my pleasure to give the 2012–2013 President's Award to Kaustuv M. "K.M." Das.

Das, who is an attorney with Perkins Coie LLP, has actively promoted KCBA's twin goals of increasing diversity in the legal profession and providing pro bono services to those in need throughout his career. Das began volunteering with KCBA's Housing Justice Project (HJP) right out of law school and was recognized as HJP's Attorney of the Year in 2004. He went on to chair KCBA's Pro Bono Services Committee and served on the Board of Trustees for the King County Bar Foundation from 2008–2010.

He has been equally involved in diversity efforts in the community, having served on the Board of the Asian Bar Association of Washington, as a long-time board member of the South Asian Bar Association of Washington (SABAW), and as a volunteer for many years in WSBA's mock interview program for minority law students. During his presidency of SABAW, the organization's scholarship program was recognized by the North American South Asian Bar Association as its Program of the Year.

Das was elected to the KCBA Board of Trustees in 2012 and has since served as its secretary. In June 2012, just as I was getting ready to start my year as KCBA president, concerns were raised by candidates who sought a rating from KCBA's Judicial Screening Committee (JSC). In response to these concerns and in recognition of the need for an updated process, the Board of Trustees decided to review and make changes to the JSC's rules and procedures. Because of his long service on the Joint Asian Judicial Evaluation Committee, which he chaired in 2008, I asked Das to lead this effort.

After I pulled together an ad hoc committee - comprised of Judge Michael Spearman, David Strout, Steve Rovig and Das - I asked Das to vet KCBA's proposed changes to the rules and procedures with the committee and other constituent groups. The ad hoc committee interviewed and collaborated with past chairs and members of the JSC, judicial candidates who had been through the evaluation process, and members of the judiciary, and working in close cooperation with the KCBA staff it evaluated a long list of proposed changes. Ultimately, under Das's leadership, the ad hoc committee helped the Board of Trustees to promulgate new rules and procedures for the renamed Judicial Candidate Evaluation Committee (JCEC).

As noted in the article below, the new JCEC rules and procedures focus on making the evaluation process more transparent, while providing more guidance and clarity to candidates, those involved in the rating process, and - most importantly - the public. The changes also will help to further the JCEC's mission of providing timely and meaningful information regarding candidates for judicial appointment or election in King County and statewide judicial office.

In recognition of his leadership in a critical mission of the KCBA, his support in addressing a major initiative during my presidency, and for his long commitment to pro bono and diversity in the legal community, it is my pleasure to award the 2012–2013 KCBA President's Award to Kaustuv M. Das.


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