Terry Price aims to strengthen equal access to Washington’s civil justice system

posted Sep 28, 2018

Terry Price considers himself a social worker who went to law school. That is one of the reasons his recent appointment by the Washington Supreme Court to the Washington Access to Justice (ATJ) board is no surprise — it is a natural extension of a career that’s been focused on social justice for a long time.

It didn’t start that way. As a very young man in the 1980s with a fresh bachelor’s degree in Chinese History, Price envisioned himself earning an MBA and pursuing a career in international business.

“Then people in my community started dying of AIDS,” said Price, who serves as the executive director of both the UW School of Law Center for Law, Science and Global Health and its Asian Law Center. He also oversees the visiting scholars program.

At that time, the disease was new and frightening — and a diagnosis was usually a death sentence.

“It changed my life,” Price said. “I realized I couldn’t just sit there and do nothing. I gave up the idea of international business and started doing volunteer social work with support groups for families and partners.” Price also found inspiration in his parents, both of whom had long participated in serving their community. Along with volunteering, he began pursuing a master’s degree in social work.

Since then, Price’s varied career has included law school at UW and stints as a social worker at Seattle Children’s Hospital, as a law clerk for the Washington Court of Appeals, and as a senior policy counsel for the State House Democratic Caucus, where he worked with the Judiciary and Public Safety Committees.

Since Price joined the UW School of Law six years ago, his diverse background has made him a good fit for multiple roles. His role as executive director of both the Center for Law, Science, and Global Health (Health Law program) and the Asian Law Center reflects his career in health care and his early passion for Chinese studies. He also served last year as president of the QLaw (LGBTQ) Foundation Board of Washington.

In his new role as a board member of the ATJ Board, Terry will join the board’s efforts to work toward eliminating barriers to equal justice in Washington’s civil justice system — especially barriers raised by racial, gender and economic inequality.

As the board’s only legal educator, Price hopes to add a strong voice advocating for tackling the problem at its roots, including educating tomorrow’s providers of legal services to focus on social justice. That includes continued advocacy for a novel category of provider, unique to Washington State and currently being trained at UW School of Law: the Limited License Legal Technician (LLLT).

Price teaches Family Law to LLLT’s in training, many of whom will eventually provide services to the majority of people who are currently unrepresented by counsel in family law situations.

Price will join UW Law student Lindy Laurence, a Gates Public Service Law Scholar who recently entered her third year of service to the board.

“As a public law school, UW Law has a duty to engage in work that benefits the most vulnerable people in our communities, working to eliminate barriers and end injustice,” Laurence said. “The ATJ Board benefits from having Terry’s participation. His background, life experience and personal values bring a necessary and valuable perspective.”

“As a white man, aware of my privileged background, I can’t stand how this country is treating people from racial and ethnic minorities,” Price said. “And as a lawyer, someone who cares deeply about our country, I can’t sit by and do nothing. We have a strong public service bent here at the law school. Fortunately, public interest is alive and well at UW.”