Welcome New Access to Justice Board Members – Part 2
This is Part 2 of a three part series welcoming the newest members of the Access to Justice Board! In Part 1 we learned how Michelle Lucas’ direct service background in social work led her to becoming a lawyer in order to have a broader impact. Below, Judge David Keenan shares his journey through various aspects of the justice system and how he plans to use his time on the ATJ board. Be sure to also check out Part 3 of the series to meet Judge Frederick Corbit.
Judge Keenan previously worked in civil practice on numerous pro bono matters, representing detained immigrants, prisoners, and other marginalized communities. Judge Keenan served as Board President at Northwest Justice Project, President of the Federal Bar Association, and as a member of the Board of TeamChild and the Seattle Community Police Commission. Judge Keenan also spent nearly 15 years in law enforcement, working full-time as a federal agent while attending law school. Judge Keenan was raised by his mother on public assistance, was arrested and charged as a youth, and dropped out of school after repeated suspensions, later earning his GED.
Question: Can you share a little about your background and what led you to become a Board member?
Judge Keenan: I started life in what we might now call a “client-eligible” household when it comes to civil legal aid. We lived on a welfare check, food stamps, and a Section 8 voucher. I and my family often either needed civil legal aid or at least experienced problems that I now know to be civil legal problems, in areas like access to housing, credit, or employment. My firsthand struggles with accessing justice led me to the law. Prior to taking the bench, I served as Board President at Northwest Justice Project, and on the Board of TeamChild. My experience with Alliance providers reinforced my commitment to civil legal aid, and once I became a judge, I knew I wanted to work with the Access to Justice Board on helping to execute on our Statewide Plan across service providers.
Question: What role do you see yourself playing on the Board? Or said another way, what do you hope to bring to the Board?
Judge Keenan: As a former board member at two Alliance providers, I hope to bring that perspective to the Access to Justice Board, but also bring the Access to Justice Board’s perspective back to the Alliance providers. We’ve struggled at times with communications both between the Access to Justice Board and Alliance providers, and among Alliance providers. I believe that fully committing to the new Statewide Plan will go a long way toward breaking down those silos, which is something we talked a lot about at the 2017 Access to Justice Conference.
Question: What are you looking forward to during your time on the Board?
Judge Keenan: I’ve been a judge for about a year, and I’m really looking forward to developing my perspective from the bench and using that to further develop my views on civil legal aid, and to contribute that emerging perspective to the Access to Justice Board.
Question: Any final thoughts that you’d like to leave us with?
Judge Keenan: This is an exciting time for access to justice, as we seek to break down the silos among, for example, civil and criminal work. Our new 2018-2020 State Plan for the Coordinated Delivery of Civil Legal Aid to Low-Income people is an excellent tool to help further the collective mission of the Alliance for Equal Justice. We have taken the results of the Civil Legal Needs Study and set in motion plans to address those needs. With our excellent Access to Justice Board staff, I’m exciting about our work going forward.
For a full list of Access to Justice Board members, including bios and contact information, visit our roster.