All Rise: Packed house welcomes Washington Supreme Court to UW Law

While many law students aspire to venture from the classroom to the courtroom, this February, the state’s highest bench brought the courtroom to them.

Over two packed days, the UW Law community turned out in force to welcome the Washington Supreme Court. The justices spent time visiting classes and engaging with students before holding a special traveling court session at William H. Gates Hall.

As a packed classroom listened, the justices heard oral arguments for three landmark cases, providing students the opportunity to see the court’s newest justice, UW alumna Justice Raquel Montoya-Lewis, in action.

In December 2019, Gov. Jay Inslee appointed Montoya-Lewis to the state Supreme Court after she served the past five years on the King County Superior Court. Less than a month after her swearing in this January, she was back in familiar classrooms, now as the first Native American ever to sit on the state’s high court.

Following a day of classroom visits, Montoya-Lewis joined Chief Justice Debra Stephens at an evening reception at the law school held to celebrate her historic appointment.

The next morning, court was officially in session at UW Law. As a full house of students settled in, Mario Barnes, UW School of Law Toni Rembe Dean and professor of law, welcomed the justices with opening remarks before the first of three sessions began.

The hearings touched on a wide range of issues, from policing practices and labor law to contracts and landlord-tenant relations.

As the attorneys outlined their positions before the bench, the justices posed probing questions and levied counterpoints, providing a window into how their eventual final opinions take shape.

Following each case, the justices took questions from students, who wanted to gain insights on everything from what judges look for in a clerk, to how to deal with imposter syndrome as a law student.

Watch the cases

TVW, Washington’s statewide public affairs network, broadcast each of the hearings live. Watch for the first time or revisit.




Read more

For a deeper dive into the background of each case, visit UW Law Professor David Ziff’s blog, where you can find pre-hearing summaries alongside in-depth analysis.

The Supreme Court at UW Law: State v. Escalante (Preview Part 1)

The Supreme Court at UW Law: Lee v. Evergreen Hospital (Preview Part 2)

The Supreme Court at UW Law: Gerlach v. The Cove Apartments (Preview Part 3)


Visit UW Law’s Facebook page to check out scenes from the day of oral arguments.