UW Law welcomed the JD class of 2020, comprised of 166 new students, to William H. Gates Hall this fall.

“From Massachusetts, upstate New York and south Florida, to students from Poland, Russia, Japan, China, Japan, Canada, Taiwan and South Korea, this year’s class has demonstrated exceptional talent and academic potential to take on the complex legal and social issues our country and world are facing,” said Mathiew Le, assistant dean of admissions and financial aid.

The class draws from a wide array of prior academic and professional experiences. Mika Ito started her career in Japan as a software engineer at Sony, then completed her PhD at the University of Edinburgh in linguistics. As a patent agent in Seattle working with Japan-based clients, she encountered issues in Japanese manufacturers’ practices that could be improved to accommodate legal practice in the U.S., and saw how U.S. law firms could benefit from understanding Japanese norms.

Mika Ito, Class of 2020

“I wish to expand my practice beyond patent prosecution to broadly assist clients with their legal issues by bridging the two different legal cultures,” says Ito.

The Center for Advanced Study and Research on Innovation Policy (CASRIP) at UW Law was a huge draw for Ito, as well as UW’s strong reputation in technology and research. “The science and technology scene is very hot in the greater Seattle area, with creative and innovative corporations, and lively start-ups.”

Grainne Griffiths had considered going to law school for quite some time, but it was the Obergefell v. Hodges marriage equality decision that solidified her decision.

Grainne Griffiths, Class of 2020

“I strongly believe that people should have the right to determine their own family composition and I’m in law school to gain the skills to expand and enforce legal recognition of nontraditional families,” says Griffiths, who graduated magna cum laude from Tufts University.

The commitment to public service, as well as the enthusiasm of students she met during Admitted Student’s Day, led Griffiths to choose UW Law. Griffiths, previously a public policy and advocacy coordinator, plans to pursue family law and alternative dispute resolution while continuing to learn about influencing public policy.

“I can’t wait to participate in clinics,” says Griffiths. “I also hope to join OUTLaws and the Incarcerated Mothers Advocacy Project here at UW.”

As an alum and Washington native, Alyssa Nevala was already partial to the UW, but the beautiful law library and helpful Student Ambassadors made the decision that much easier to apply to UW Law.

Alyssa Nevala, Class of 2020

Nevala decided to go to law school to pursue her dream of working in international law, and it was her work at Microsoft Global security that gave her the push to pursue law.

“My position as a technology project manager exposed me to the importance of business law, such as initiating new contracts with vendor companies and considerations before deploying robots on campus,” says Nevala.

For Tommy Statkiewicz, his experience as an immigrant and a member of the LGBTQ community shaped his views and interest in law.

Tommy Statkiewicz, Class of 2020
Photo credit: Diana Arreola 

“Having been in the immigration system, I understand its complexities and terrors all too well,” says Statkiewicz. “My primary goal in law school is to learn as much as I can.”

Prior to law school, Statkiewicz worked as a legal services coordinator for the Educators for Fair Consideration in San Francisco, and provided support for immigration law training and assisted undocumented young people.

Statkiewicz knows he has a challenge ahead of him, but is ready to learn and speak like a lawyer at UW Law. “I aim to gain the tools necessary to navigate our legal systems so that I may empower others.”