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August 3, 2006

Public service law veteran is Gates director

The UW School of Law has hired Michele Storms as executive director of the William H. Gates Public Service Law Scholarship Program.

“When I first learned that Bill Gates had honored his father by creating the scholarship program, I was thrilled for the students, the law school, and the future of public interest practice,” said Storms. “It is an amazing opportunity to run such a program.”

Storms currently serves as a statewide advocacy coordinator for the Northwest Justice Project, which provides free civil legal aid to low-income people. She also provides advocacy, leadership and communications training to members of the Alliance for Equal Justice.

“Michele has broad experience in public interest and higher education and will be an excellent addition to our community,” said Law School Dean W.H. Knight, Jr.

Prior to her current position, she was a faculty member and the founding director of the UW School of Law Child and Youth Advocacy Clinic (1993–2001). She has also served as a staff attorney with Evergreen Legal Services. Storms was a member of the Washington State Access to Justice Board from 1998 to 2004 and served as chair of that board for one year. She has been recognized as the Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year by the King County Bar Association (1992) and for Special Contribution to the Judiciary by the Washington Women Lawyers (1998). She is a cum laude graduate of Gonzaga University School of Law and a former Managing Editor of the Gonzaga Law Review.

The Gates Public Service Law Program is named in honor of William H. Gates and his commitment to public service. Bill Gates has had a distinguished career in law and many years of public service and presently serves as co-chair of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. The scholarship program was announced on the occasion of his 80th birthday.

The inaugural five recipients of the public service law scholarship for 2006-07 are Emily Alvarado, Vanessa Torres Hernandez, Illana Mantell, Colleen Melody, and Michael Peters.

The scholars have the opportunity to attend the UW School of Law and then pursue public interest law without the burden of educational debt. The scholarship program covers the full cost of tuition, books, room and board and incidental expenses during law school. In exchange, students are required to dedicate five years to public service.