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Legal Voice 

Description

Legal Voice, founded in 1978 as the Northwest Women's Law Center, works to ensure that all women and girls have these fundamental rights: to equal treatment and to be free from discrimination; to decide when and how to form and maintain their families; to be safe wherever they are; to economic equality and independence; and to be healthy and active.  When all women and girls live with these rights, our society benefits.  We pursue systemic change to achieve equality for all women and their families throughout the Northwest.
Mission Statement
Legal Voice envisions a  world where every woman and girl enjoys economic, social, and political equality. We work toward that vision by pursuing justice for all women and girls in the Northwest, through ground-breaking litigation, legislative and policy advocacy, and educational tools to help people understand their rights and the legal system.
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Legal Voice
907 Pine St Ste 500 
Seattle 
WA
98101-1818 
(206) 682-9552 

Lisa M. Stone 
Executive Director 

Programs

Legal Voice Programs

Litigation
Legal Voice brings cases that change the law throughout the Northwest states (Alaska, Idaho, Montana, Oregon and Washington). We file amicus curiae (friend of the court) briefs in cases affecting women throughout the nation, and provide assistance in litigation, legislation, and advocacy to allies throughout the region. 

Legislation
Legal Voice drafts, analyzes and advocates for bills affecting women and their families in Washington State, and provides legal and technical assistance and model legislation to advocates in the region.

Self Help
Legal Voice believes that educating people about their legal rights empowers them to make decisions and advocate for themselves and their families. Legal Voice educates communities about pressing legal issues through community forums, collaborations, and our self help materials.

Recent Successes and Current Challenges

Legal Voice filed an amicus (friend of the court) brief in a recent case where a rapist received an extraordinarily lenient 31-day sentence for raping a minor in Montana. We argued that the sentencing decision was based on long-discredited myths about rape, and that the judge's statements blamed the victim for the crime, ignored the obvious power disparity between the victim and the rapist, and trivialized rape. On April 30th, the MT Supreme Court agreed with us, ruling unanimously that the rapist should receive a much longer sentence, and that the case should be assigned to a different judge.·        

Legal Voice, along with other women’s rights organizations, will launch the Equal Pay Today Campaign, which calls for national and state action to end the following practices contributing to the gender wage gap:
  • Less pay for the same job: this occurs in nearly every occupation 
  • Job segregation: Sex role stereotypes lead to women being segregated into female-dominated jobs 
  • Retaliation against workers for discussing their pay. 
  • Pay reductions due to pregnancy and caregiving responsibilities. 
  • Wage theft: Women in many industries are paid less than the minimum wage, shorted hours, forced to work off the clock, not paid overtime, or not paid at all.
Legal Voice was a key player in the effort to achieve and then retain marriage equality in Washington, advocating for the legislation, serving on the Steering Committee of Ref 74, and working on the ballot title litigation to ensure voters understood what the law would do. 

Last year, Legal Voice was before the WA Supreme Court, advocating for the rights of low-income people to have access to the courts. Our client, Ms. Jafar, earned only $4300/year, but when she tried to get a restraining order against her ex-partner, the court told her she needed to pay fees she simply could not afford. No one should be shut out of the courthouse because of money. The state Supreme Court agreed, ruling unanimously that low-income litigants like Ms. Jafar must have all fees waived, so they have the same rights to justice as more affluent people.

Evaluation


Legal Voice has played a key role in virtually all the advances to the rights of women, families and sexual minorities for over 30 years in our region.

Proven Success
Legal Voice has succeeded in advancing the legal rights of women and sexual minorities throughout the Northwest. Their philosophy recognizes that law is one of the most powerful tools in a democratic society, which is why they strive to educate the public about the law, advocate for fair interpretation and enforcement, and pursue changes that further the rights of women and sexual minorities.

As healthcare industry mergers and alliances proliferate, access to healthcare for women, LGBTQ persons, and those facing end-of-life decisions is ever more restrictive. In response to the alliance between Seattle’s Swedish Hospital and the Providence healthcare system, Legal Voice is co-leading a community coalition concerned about possible erosion of access to services such as sterilization, abortion, and end-of-life care. They are also leading an effort to develop policy initiatives to strengthen patient rights to be informed of their healthcare options in WA.

Partnering with Economic Opportunity Institute and other allies, they passed a Paid Sick and Safe Days policy in Seattle in 2011, only the 4th in the country, requiring that employees in Seattle can take paid time off when they or family members are ill, or to take steps to become safe, such as going to a domestic violence shelter and seeking court protection. We are now working to enforce the new Seattle policy, plan advocacy for a statewide Paid Sick and Safe Days law, and to ensure WA’s Family Leave Insurance program remains on the books until the economy recovers and a funding source is established.

Accessibility and Cultural Competency
Legal Voice provides legal information and referrals on patient rights and healthcare access. In 2012 they will disseminate “Know Your Reproductive Rights” materials in WA, and a Senior Legal Wellness Handbook addressing healthcare access issues confronting WA seniors. We are also seeking funding to provide Seattle community workshops on these critical issues for seniors and their caregivers in 2013.

The trial in their lawsuit defending the patient-centered Board of Pharmacy rule requiring all pharmacies to dispense all lawful medications occurred in November and December 2011. The judge ruled in February 2012 that the regulations are unconstitutional. Legal Voice (and the State, which is also defending the regulations strongly disagree), have appealed the decision. That court previously overturned the judge in this case, and they believe they will prevail on appeal. They know from polling that 65% of Washingtonians believe patients’ needs should trump health care providers’ personal beliefs. They believe this case will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court, so are devoting resources to ensure that patients’ rights are protected.

Financial Health
Structurally, their programs have continued in their previous form; they are simply doing less of the same type of work. They trimmed expenses, renegotiated their rent, technology and changed health care plans. Legal Voice slightly exceeded their fundraising targets in 2011. Their foundation support, which has traditionally constituted approximately one-third of their revenue is lower. They have intensified their foundation outreach, and refocused on individual donors.

Grant History with The Seattle Foundation:

Grants Awarded through The Seattle Foundation Grantmaking Program:

DateAmountPurpose
12/10/2012 $10,000.00provide general operating support.
12/10/2010 $10,000.00support general operating expenses.
3/10/2009 $20,000.00support general operating expenses.
3/22/2007 $50,000.00support the technology upgrade.

Financials

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