Washington State Bar Association
The December NCBF Spotlight shines on the Washington State Bar Association. Formed in 1888, The Washington Bar Association was formed, changing its name to its current name in 1890. The association originally consisted of 35 lawyers, and membership cost was $5 per year. At that time, the organization was purely voluntary and did not include all lawyers admitted to practice. By 1930, it was proposed that the association have a more formal structure, so the Legislature enacted the State Bar Act (RCW 2.48), establishing the Washington State Bar Association as an agency of the state.
Today, WSBA is part of the judicial branch, exercising a governmental function authorized by the Washington Supreme Court to license the state’s nearly 40,000 legal professionals, including lawyers, limited practice officers, and limited license legal technicians. As a regulatory agency, the WSBA administers the bar admission process, provides record-keeping and licensing functions, and administers the professional discipline system. As a professional association, the WSBA also provides continuing legal education for attorneys, in addition to other educational and member-services opportunities to advance professionally.
Moderate Means Program
The Washington State Bar Foundation helps fund WSBA programs that provide legal assistance to the state’s most vulnerable populations through the Moderate Means Program. This program matches moderate income clients with legal professionals that are willing to work for reduced fees. In 2019, the program formally introduced limited license legal technicians to its panel of professionals with the hope of providing more low-cost options for clients seeking assistance with family law matters.
Powerful Communities Projects
The WSBA Powerful Communities Projects Initiative is designed to amplify communities who are denied justice due to systemic oppression, advance the WSBA’s mission and purposes outlined in General Rule 12.2, encourage public service by WSBA members, and implement the State Plan for the Coordinated Delivery of Legal Aid to low-income people. With funding from the Washington State Bar Foundation, organizations can apply for small grants to help them jumpstart new community-based projects, and expand existing programs that provide services to people who are denied justice due to systemic oppression.
Staff and Leadership
WSBA is managed by its Board of Governors, which consists of the president, president-elect, and immediate past president and members elected from each Congressional District and three at-large positions. WSBA also has an Executive Director, selected by the Board of Governors.