The Washington Leadership Institute (WLI) is a leadership development program created in 2004 by the WSBA Board of Governors at the behest of then president Ronald R. Ward. Its mission is to recruit, train and develop traditionally underrepresented attorneys for future leadership positions in the Washington State Bar Association and legal community. It is a collaborative leadership program between the Washington State Bar Association and the University of Washington School of Law.

The program strives to recruit fellows for each class who reflect the full diversity of our state, which includes race, ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability and geographic location. The program sessions include topics such as the “nuts and bolts” of law practice, leadership styles, the judiciary and the legislative process.


Program Benefits

The WLI provides the fellows with numerous opportunities to personally interact with legal, judicial and political leaders. The program offers a unique combination of benefits:

  • The program is a no-cost endeavor for Fellows because all travel, lodging and meals are covered
  • No tuition fee
  • CLE credits, enough to satisfy approximately 3 full years of MCLE requirements — at no cost
  • Exposure to practice and industry leaders
  • Training in the law, courts and the bar
  • One-on-one interaction with judges
  • Mentorship from well-known bar leaders

Apply to Become a WLI Fellow

The 2023–24 WLI application process is now closed. Please look back in August 2024 for the next opportunity to become a Washington Leadership Institute Fellow.

Questions? Please email uwlawwli@uw.edu.


Testimonial

Judge Bernard F. Veljacic

“WLI was huge in giving me the tools I need to be better. The relationships in particular continue to be important and rewarding. I appreciate that the end goal is to understand the meaning of community and to then serve. The program is not just career oriented – but with the career advancement, one also gains a corresponding credible voice that is needed to make a difference.”

— Judge Bernard F. Veljacic, Washington State Court of Appeals, Division 2

ABA Midyear Meeting

The ABA Midyear meeting was held virtually in February 2022. Washington Leadership Institute (WLI) Program was highlighted along with The Men of Color Project. Checkout the video!


WLI Stories

Introducing the 2024 WLI Fellows
2024 WLI Fellows
Introducing the 2024 WLI Fellows

WLI board selects 11 fellows for collaborative leadership program between the Washington State Bar Association and the University of Washington School of Law.

WLI Co-Chairs Announced
Erika Evans and Craig Sims
WLI Co-Chairs Announced

Erika Evans and Craig Sims have been selected as Co-Chairs of the Washington Leadership Institute (WLI), leading efforts to recruit and develop underrepresented attorneys for leadership positions.

Washington Leadership institute Fellows Share Perspectives as Underrepresented Attorneys
Washington Leadership institute Fellows Share Perspectives as Underrepresented Attorneys

Recent graduating class of the WLI Fellowship Program provide a guide for new, underrepresented attorneys and incoming law students.

UW Law remembers Justice Mary E. Fairhurst
UW Law remembers Justice Mary E. Fairhurst

Retired Washington Supreme Court Justice Fairhurst served on the Court from 2003 to 2020 and was a board member of the Washington Leadership Institute.

Washington Leadership Institute honored for decade of impact
WLI members attend a meeting.
Washington Leadership Institute honored for decade of impact

The award is the latest recognition of work shaping legal leaders while serving underrepresented communities.