posted Jan 15, 2019

Meet our student: Amira Mattar, a third-year student with a passion for social justice.

Minority Law Students Association president Amira Mattar knows for certain that she wants to be a litigator when she graduates.

But she might have never come to that conclusion if not for a “silly, inconsequential bet” with a friend. Losing the bet meant that Mattar — just starting out as one of the youngest students and one of very few Arab women at UW Law — agreed to participate in Mock Trial.

“I never thought I’d be good at public speaking, but I ended up doing it—and won on both the plaintiff and defense side,” Mattar said. “So I spent my 22nd birthday in a courtroom getting hassled by the judge with questions about our case.

“It was the most formative experience I’ve had at the law school,” she said.
“It helped me discover how powerful my own voice can be. I will become a litigator for sure now because I discovered this hidden skill I didn’t know I had.”

Amira Mattar on the terrace at William H. Gates Hall.

Since that early revelation, Mattar has used her voice at UW Law to bolster the passion for social justice she’s had since she was young, when she would spend summers visiting her father’s family in the occupied West Bank, then come home for school to Mill Creek, where “the stark difference in freedoms between people” made a big impression on her.

Besides leading the Minority Law Students Association, Mattar has served as liaison to the Washington Supreme Court Minority and Justice Commission and spent a summer interning for the ACLU of Southern California.

“Those visits to the West Bank gave me a language about human rights and human dignity,” Mattar said. “But as the president of the Minority Law Students Association, I’m not serving just one social justice cause. My role is to help promote all minorities to pursue their passions and their goals. I understand the importance of diversity and centering marginalized backgrounds and uplifting different voices here at the UW.”

“I’m just happy that I get a chance to work on inclusive activism here at the law school,” Mattar said. “The law school has really helped shape a lot of the skills that I need to become an attorney. I’ve done things I’d never thought I would do, and it’s been great. I felt and still feel that the law is an important tool for pursuing and achieving equality, and the UW has given me that.”