2023 Access to Justice Conference

Shifting Justice Towards Accountability and Trust

Tacoma Convention Center & Virtual

September 28-30, 2023

Every two years, the Access to Justice Conference brings together community members, legal system advocates, judges, attorneys, and policymakers across Washington State who are committed to dismantling legal systems of oppression and poverty.

For almost 25 years, the Access to Justice Conference has been a learning space for civil legal aid attorneys, judges, and other legal professionals to better serve low-income clients with legal needs. However, in recent years we have more clearly seen the need for a paradigm shift in how we center the voices and leadership of communities most impacted by racism and poverty and who are all too often denied justice. This conference aims to bring together community organizations, groups, and advocates alongside legal professionals to develop a shared vision and learning space to demand justice from legal systems. The 2023 conference theme, Shifting Justice Towards Accountability and Trust, is intended to be a pledge by those working within the legal system to be accountable to and build trust with the communities with whom we aim to partner. In the end, we hope conference attendees and presenters walked away with a shared belief that we can effect change, recognizing our own power, and validating the leadership of the community.

2023 was our first-ever hybrid conference. Below, please find recordings from the awards ceremony, keynote address, and closing plenary. These links will redirect you to public access television website TVW.org.

Access to Justice Awards Ceremony

Keynote Address by Representative Jamila Taylor

Closing Plenary: Un/Breakable Commitments: Community Advisory Boards and Organizational Accountability

Conference logo. Brown hand holding a sledgehammer over the scales of justice. Under the photo says crisis and reckoning, a call to dismantle unjust systems2021 Access to Justice Conference

Crisis and Reckoning: A Call to Dismantle Unjust Systems

The conference took place virtually August 11-13, 2021. The majority of the conference was recorded and the recordings are available to view on the Access to Justice Board’s YouTube channel for free public access.

View the full conference agenda and session descriptions here.

We come together against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis, which has revealed and deepened existing inequalities, and a growing national conversation about systemic racism. To meet the demands of this moment, the conference highlights the work of non-legal community-based organizations, and provides the opportunity for community advocates and legal professionals to build partnerships to advance justice.
The conference will focus on six tracks; participants are welcome to move between and combine tracks.

  • Racial Justice: Community movements to advance racial justice, combatting anti-Asian hate, building coalition to advance racial equity, intersectional impacts of race and disability and other topics, community engagement, land acknowledgements, and other topics.
  • Youth: Racism in schools, combatting the school to prison pipeline, the child welfare system, and holistic representation for youth with disabilities, and other topics
  • Immigrant’s Rights: Mutual aid in immigrant communities, grassroots advocacy and access to legal services, and other topics.
  • Criminal Justice and Reentry: Reentry after long periods of incarceration, alternatives to the criminal legal system, legal financial obligations, restorative justice, healing families impacted by incarceration, and other topics
  • Gender Justice: Serving criminalized survivors, self-represented litigants in family court, tech-enabled abuse, gender inequities in Washington’s legal system, LGBTQ+ survivors of violence, and other topics.
  • Housing and Homelessness: Housing law post-eviction moratorium and right to counsel, community-based services for homeless people, and other topics.

The conference will feature keynote speakers Chief Justice Steve Gonzalez of the Washington Supreme Court, Senator Rebecca Saldana, Justice Helen Whitener, and Michele Storms, Executive Director of the ACLU of Washington. It will also feature presentations from the Monroe Black Prisoner’s Caucus, NAACP Youth Council, Spokane Coalition Against Racism, Asian Pacific Islander Coalition, and 10 other community-based organizations and activists directly impacted by the justice system.

ATJ Conference Logo with the words "Amplifying the Power of Community"2019 Access to Justice Conference

Read on to learn about our 2019 conference, Amplifying the Power of Community, held in Spokane, WA.

View the full program agenda here.

The 2019 conference featured an outstanding line-up of advocates, activists, and community leaders from Spokane and across the state. Attendees participated in focused conference-tracks about mass incarceration and justice-involved individuals; trauma-informed advocacy and self-care; race equity and leadership skill building; and community lawyering.  The Conference also offered stand-alone sessions about the intersectional barriers faced by LGBTQ and trans communities, combatting islamophobia, building community-centered technology, strengthening volunteer engagement, learning to use a reproductive justice framework, and more.  The conference also featured dedicated time and space for facilitated affinity groups, an equity-themed book discussion, a re-entry simulation, and ample opportunities to connect with colleagues.