Nichole Anderson Awarded 2020 Dean's Pro Bono Award of Distinction
Each year, the graduating student who has earned the most Pro Bono hours is awarded the Dean's Pro Bono Award of Distinction. Congratulations to the 2020 recipient, Nichole Anderson!
Anderson grew up in our neighboring state of Oregon and graduated from Oregon State University in 2017 with a degree in Political Science. Outside of the classroom, she is a member of the Law Review, the Civil Rights Moot Court Team, and the William O'Douglas Committee. Anderson volunteered for the street law program during her first year of law school, working with local high school students and teaching them about basic constitutional rights.
Her passion for service then led her to accept a position with the Washington State Attorney General's Office (AGO) where Anderson began collecting her many hours of pro bono work. Anderson works in the Social and Health Services (SHS) Division, where she handles cases involving dependency or termination of parental rights cases that arise from allegations of child abuse and neglect.
"I often get the question in interviews and by relatives, ‘why did you want to be a lawyer?’" Anderson said. "Whether through panic or a real sincerity, most law students give the common response—'because I want to help people.’ Though I fit squarely in that cliché, I would say my desire to ‘help’ comes from a sincere passion for public service. I went to law school because I wanted to serve my community. I wanted my work to mean something. To have a wider purpose beyond myself."
Through her position with the SHS Division, Anderson is able to put that desire to excellent use. While the work is demanding and the difficult subject matter taxing, Anderson believes full-heartedly that it is completely worthwhile. Anderson's time at the AGO in Spokane also prepares her for the practical side of lawyering. Through drafting motions, orders, briefs, and appeals, Anderson has honed her legal writing skills as well as gained the invaluable experience of presenting her own arguments in court with the support of her supervisors.
"I have absolutely loved my time at the AGO and the opportunity to serve my community in a meaningful way," Anderson said. "It has taught me not only how to be a good lawyer, but also why public service is so important."
Anderson's dedication to her pro bono work has also provided expansive opportunities outside of her education. After taking the Bar, Anderson will be staying with the AGO having accepted a position through its honor's program.
"I went to law school because I wanted to serve my community. I wanted my work to mean something. To have a wider purpose beyond myself."