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Advocate for Access

Written by Katherine Hedland Hansen
November 24, 2014
Professor Paula Lustbader '88, a passionate advocate for opening law school to members of underrepresented groups and diversifying the legal profession, will be recognized with the Academic Support Award from the Association of American Law Schools (AALS).

Director and co-founder along with Professor Emeritus Dave Boerner of the acclaimed Academic Resource Center, Lustbader was selected because of her long-standing commitment to the academic support community and students.

Seattle University School of Law has one of the few true remaining academic support programs in the country. The law school admits 10 percent of its class through the Access Admission Program, which considers an applicant's promise and experience in addition to traditional admission criteria. Those students are supported throughout law school by the Academic Resource Center. They attend an intensive seven-week summer program that integrates a traditional Criminal Law course with legal writing and study skills.

Through her innovative work in providing instruction, support, and mentorship to law students from underrepresented groups, Lustbader has been instrumental in changing the face of the legal profession. More than 800 "ARCies," as students proudly call themselves, have graduated from law school since the program's inception. ARC graduates go on to find great success and be leaders in their communities.

"We owe great thanks to Paula for her steadfast commitment to ARC and years of nurturing our students and the program," Dean Annette E. Clark '89 said. "This award is well-deserved recognition."

Lustbader is a nationally recognized leader, scholar, and speaker on law school academic support programs, learning theory, teaching methods, and diversity. In addition to being the past chair of both the Teaching Methods and Academic Support Sections of the AALS, she has been a frequent program organizer and presenter at conferences sponsored by the AALS, the Law School Admission Council Institutes for Academic Support, the Institute for Law School Teaching, the Society of American Law Teachers, the Legal Writing Institute, the Teaching Professor, and the Academy for Creative Teaching. She has made presentations on teaching in England, Switzerland, and Spain.

Lustbader was the co-recipient of the Washington State Bar Association Award for Excellence in Diversity. In 2010 she was awarded the Loren Miller Bar Association President's Award for her work to increase the diversity of the legal profession.

In recent years, Lustbader has begun to address issues of civility. She is the president and creator of Robert's Fund, which has partnered with Seattle University School of Law to offer The Promise of Civility continuing education seminars in Seattle and Tuscany, Italy, for lawyers, judges, and mental health care workers.

The award will be presented Jan. 3 at the AALS's 2015 Annual Meeting in Washington, D. C.