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Social Justice Monday: Eliminating Language Barriers in the Courts

Monday, Nov 19, 2018
12:00 PM - 12:50 PM PST
Room C5Map Location
This event does not require an RSVP.

The Access to Justice Institute presents

 Eliminating Language Barriers in the Courts and

How You Can Help

Monday, November 19, 2018

Noon – 12:50 p.m.

Sullivan Hall, Room C5

Soup Lunch Provided 

Speak a second language? Native speaker, or conversational but not fluent? Monolingual? All are invited to listen to a panel of multilingual attorneys (both native and non-native speakers) who use their language skills in their law practice. Learn about ways you can use your language skills to reduce the justice gap and work effectively with clients. The panel will discuss issues such as the biggest barriers facing Limited English Proficient (LEP) clients in Washington and what can be done to address these challenges. Laura Gage (2L) will be moderating this informative session.

Panelists include:

Kristi Cruz is a staff attorney at the Northwest Justice Project. Ms. Cruz was certified as an American Sign Language Interpreter in 1996 and became a member of the Washington Bar in 2009. She graduated Magna Cum Laude from Seattle University School of Law in December 2008, and was the inaugural Seattle University School of Law Leadership for Justice Fellow (2009) during which she worked on language access issues at the Northwest Justice Project. In 2010, Ms. Cruz was a co-reporter for the American Bar Association’s Standards for Language Access in Courts project, which created national standards for the effective delivery of interpreter and translation services in courts. In 2013, she created the CLEAR*ASL program at NJP and is the staff attorney for the project, where she provides direct legal services in American Sign Language to Washington’s Deaf residents statewide by video phone. Ms. Cruz is involved in state and national efforts to reduce language barriers for LEP and Deaf individuals as they access education, healthcare, legal, and governmental services. She routinely provides training to law students, judges, and other legal professionals on language access rights and tips for working with LEP and Deaf clients through interpreter services. She is actively involved with the Washington State Coalition for Language Access (WASCLA) and serves as a Commissioner on the Washington State Administrative Office of the Courts Interpreter Commission.

Naomi Simila-Dickinson has a bachelor’s degree in Spanish from Western Oregon University; part of her undergraduate program included a term abroad in Spain. After earning her undergraduate degree, she volunteered in the United States Peace Corps, serving in the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan, where she learned the local Arabic dialect through instruction and immersion. During law school, she interned at Northwest Justice Project (Olympia office), primarily assisting the Spanish speaking attorney by conducting interviews with Spanish speaking clients seeking U-visas. She graduated in 2015 from Seattle University School of Law. She has spent the last three years working as a public defender at the Pierce County Department of Assigned Counsel, where she has the opportunity to use her Spanish skills to communicate with her clients and assist coworkers in communicating with their clients.

Javier Ortiz is a 2016 graduate from Seattle University School of Law. He currently works as an associate attorney for Beacon Attorneys, PLLC. Beacon Attorneys is located on Beacon Hill and primarily focuses on family law, although the firm does take on other civil litigation matters. Before joining the firm, Javier was a law clerk for the Honorable Eric Z. Lucas of the Snohomish County Superior Court. Javier went into the practice of law to help minorities and marginalized groups. His primary focus has been helping Latinx and survivors of domestic violence. While in law school, Javier volunteered with the Coalition Ending Gender-Based Violence, formerly known as the King County Coalition Against Domestic Violence, interned for the DC non-profit, Ayuda (providing immigration and domestic violence protection assistance to non-native English-speaking clients), and worked with Seattle University's Homeless Rights Advocacy Project. Prior to law school, Javier spent his whole life in California and attended the University of California, Riverside where he got a Bachelor's of Arts in Political Science/Law and Society and a minor in Creative Writing. Javier is a first generation Guatemalan-American born and raised in LA county. Javier hopes that his efforts will help pave a more manageable pathway for minorities and marginalized groups.

Moderator: Laura Gage is a 2L who majored in anthropology at Western Oregon University and got her Master of Chinese Linguistics degree at Dalian University of Foreign Language with a specialization in teaching Chinese as a foreign language. Before starting law school, she lived in Dalian, China, for seven years, where she taught English. She has also lived in Spain and Chile and speaks conversational Spanish. Laura defended her Master's thesis in Chinese and recently presented her undergraduate thesis on Irish-American nationalism at a conference in Dublin, Ireland. Laura is a legal intern at Apex Law Group and hopes to find a career using her language and multicultural skills.

Social Justice Monday is an organized, weekly series hosted by the Access to Justice Institute in partnership with students, student organizations, and other departments across the law school. If you are interested in organizing a Social Justice Monday for the 2018-2019 academic year, please contact Abby Goldy at