The journey from astrophysics to law is not the usual career trajectory for a lawyer, but then again, Kristina Larry is not your usual attorney.

Larry is the new staff attorney for the UW School of Law Moderate Means Program, a flagship pro bono program that provides students opportunities to work with low-income individuals who need help with family, housing and consumer law issues.

Students in the program connect people within 200–400% of the federal poverty level to members of a network of hundreds of lawyers who offer legal help at reduced fees.

Before joining the law school, Larry served as a participating attorney in the program since its launch in 2011. She balances this half-time staff position with her Federal Way law practice, Sassy Litigations, where she specializes in family, business and trademark law.

Larry began as an astrophysics major at the University of Wyoming before a volunteer stint changed her life. She took a volunteer position at a shelter for women who were victims of domestic violence. There, she met a lawyer who helped women get out of abusive relationships by helping with protection orders, custody agreements and more.

“I had no interest in the law initially,” she says. “I didn’t even know lawyers did that sort of work. At that point, most of my exposure to law was from the TV show ‘Law & Order.’”

Larry was intrigued. She graduated with a B.A. in psychology (after changing her major) after applying for law school during her senior year studying abroad in London. She earned her law degree in 2009 from the Thurgood Marshall School of Law at Texas Southern University and moved to Seattle where she is known for her commitment, compassion and down-to-earth approach.

Early on, I realized it’s a big world out there with a lot of differences, but at the heart of it, everyone is very much the same.

Helping others is an important personal value for Larry. Even as a young girl, she participated in jump rope-a-thons for charitable causes. As part of a military family, she grew up in two countries and nine states — a background that helped teach her how to roll with the punches.

“Early on, I realized it’s a big world out there with a lot of differences,” she says, “but at the heart of it, everyone is very much the same.”

Soon after moving to Seattle, Larry worked as a legal advocate with the Domestic Abuse Women’s Network (DAWN) and currently volunteers with the King County Bar Association’s Housing Justice Project, a homelessness-prevention program.  She is president of the Washington State Bar Foundation where she helps raise funds for the Moderate Means Program, as well as a new WSBF initiative called Powerful Communities. She also works to support diversity and inclusion in the legal profession.

Her confidence, can-do attitude and dedication to volunteerism have not gone unnoticed. In 2018, South Sound Business Magazine named her to its “40 Under 40” list, which recognizes outstanding individuals making a difference in the community.

At Moderate Means, Larry oversees and mentors student volunteers, sharing tips on how to manage interviews, deal with a wide range of clients and write effective legal briefs. It’s about as hands-on as a law student can get.

“Lawyers have a tremendous impact on people’s lives at a time when they are going through huge turmoil,” Larry says. “To give back is very fulfilling. I’m looking forward to encouraging and sharing that value with the Moderate Means students.”

Learn more about and get involved with the Moderate Means Program.