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The American Bar Association Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division has bestowed Washington State Supreme Court Justice Steven González with its Difference Makers award. The award, which honors an individual who has made a difference of particular importance in the local community, was presented to González at a luncheon during the division’s National Solo & Small Firm Conference Oct. 12 in Seattle.
A former criminal and civil law attorney, González served as a trial judge on the King County Superior Court hearing criminal, civil, juvenile and family law cases before joining the Washington State Supreme Court. He also served as an assistant U.S. attorney in the Western District of Washington, a domestic violence prosecutor for the City of Seattle, and an associate in the business law department at the Seattle law firm Hillis Clark Martin & Peterson.
As an assistant U.S. attorney, González was part of the team that successfully prosecuted the international terrorism case of the “Millennium Bomber” who was arrested attempting to cross the Canadian-U.S. border in a car loaded with explosives. González was recognized by the Department of Justice with the U.S. Attorney General’s Award for Distinguished Service and the Director’s Award for Superior Performance.
González also served as hate crimes prosecution coordinator and has prosecuted organized crime cases. After Sept. 11, he lectured on international terrorism prosecution to U.S. attorneys.
González, passionate about providing open access to the justice system for all, served on the Washington State Access to Justice Board, and chairs the Interpreter Commission and the Court Security Committee. He regularly provided pro bono representation to people who could not afford to pay for a lawyer.
Among his other memberships and accomplishments, González mentors students through the Future of the Law Institute and serves as a board member for the Washington Leadership Institute, a program that aims to develop bar and community leaders who reflect the diversity of Washington state.
González has received numerous awards, including “Judge of the Year” awards from the Washington State Bar Association, the Washington Chapter of the American Board of Trial Advocates and the Asian Bar Association of Washington. He was given the Exceptional Member Award from the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington and the Vanguard Award from the King County Chapter of Washington Women Lawyers.
González earned his undergraduate degree from Pitzer College and his law degree from the University of California Berkeley School of Law, where he served as the technical editor of the La Raza Law Journal. As part of his undergraduate degree, González studied at Waseda University in Tokyo and at Nanjing University in China. Before law school, he did graduate work in Economics at Hokkaido University on a scholarship from Rotary International.
The ABA Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division is the only ABA entity exclusively devoted to solo practitioners and small firm lawyers. The division, with over 27,000 members, serves as the voice of the “Main Street lawyer.” Solo and small firm practitioners represent half of the nation’s lawyers, and the Solo, Small Firm and General Practice Division provides a community for them within the ABA.