2021 Public Service & Leadership Award Recipients

WYLC Public Service & Leadership Awards

The Washington Young Lawyers Committee honors four local leaders

From left: Jack Chang, Meha Goyal, Diego Rondón Ichikawa, and Neil Weiss.
BY AARON HAYNES

The Washington Young Lawyers Committee (WYLC) recently asked the legal community to nominate new or young lawyers who are dedicated to serving their communities for the annual Public Service and Leadership Award. The WYLC carefully considered each nominee’s service and contributions to their community to select award recipients with a history of exemplary leadership and commitment to public service.

For each nominee, the committee weighed the following factors: (1) leadership and service in the local community or within a bar association; (2) mentoring; (3) involvement in the WSBA, American Bar Association, and/or local bar association activities; and (4) volunteer work with pro bono or public service programs. The committee balanced the factors in light of the award’s goal of highlighting exceptional public service work of new or young lawyers across Washington. 

Within this framework—and after deliberating over many qualified candidates—the committee selected the following four nominees to receive the Public Service and Leadership Award. 


Jack Chang

Jack Chang is an associate at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP in Seattle and currently serves as the young lawyer liaison for the WSBA Intellectual Property Section. 

Jack has an impressive history of mentorship and pro bono work. He has spent countless hours volunteering as a pro bono attorney with the King County Bar Association Family Law Program, the Veterans Consortium Pro Bono Program, and Lawyers Fostering Independence. Jack’s nominator particularly highlighted his work with the Washington Pro Bono Patent Network. Jack focuses his legal practice on intellectual property matters, and he recently gave 50 hours of his time to help an inventor navigate the patent process. Beyond his pro bono work, Jack has volunteered over 100 hours with We the Action’s Election Protection volunteering hotlines, using his Mandarin language skills to help Washington voters. Jack is also a dedicated mentor. As a member of the Leadership Council on Legal Diversity and the Alumni Program at the Seattle University School of Law, Jack has mentored over 15 law students. 


Meha Goyal

Meha Goyal is a Washington assistant attorney general for Social and Health Services, Adult Protective Services, and Medicaid Long-Term Care Programs.

Meha’s nominator lauded her extensive pro bono work on behalf of immigrants, veterans, and legal aid clinics throughout Washington. Her dedication to public service began in law school, where she interned with the International Centre for Missing and Exploited Children and the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Through the Center for Applied Legal Studies, she helped a refugee from El Salvador seek asylum in the U.S. Since becoming a practicing attorney and member of the WSBA in 2020, Meha has represented, pro bono, an army veteran before the U.S. Court of Appeals for Veterans Claims. She is currently representing refugees from Afghanistan seeking humanitarian parole in the U.S. As described by her nominator, Meha’s “work speaks to the best that the legal profession can be.” 


Diego Rondón Ichikawa 

Diego Rondón Ichikawa is an attorney at Vreeland Law in Bellevue.

Praised by his nominator for pro bono work that has made “positive change for the worker and immigrant community,” Diego has demonstrated his steadfast commitment to improving the lives of immigrants in Washington. For the past 10 years, Diego has volunteered with El Centro de la Raza and contributed to the National Employment Law Project and Washington Wage Claim Project. He is a regular volunteer at the legal clinics co-sponsored by the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington and Schroeter Goldmark & Bender. Through the legal clinics, he has provided limited representation to countless people across Washington. He encourages attorneys across the state to volunteer with the clinics. In addition to the positive impact he has had on the recipients of his pro bono efforts, the committee was impressed with Diego’s leadership in the legal community. He serves as a board member of the Latina/o Bar Association of Washington and is the co-editor for the 2022 edition of the Washington State Association for Justice’s Employment Law Deskbook


Neil Weiss

Neil Weiss is a partner at ABC Law Group in Everett.

In the words of his nominator, Neil’s “dedication to the improvement of the child welfare system is truly remarkable.” Neil founded FIRST Legal Clinic in 2019, a free legal service for pregnant women and mothers of newborns at risk of CPS removal. He dedicated hundreds of pro bono hours to the clinic’s successful launch and to representing women through the clinic. Neil’s nominator was struck by his tenacity and tireless commitment to helping better a system that the nominator described as stagnant and slow to change. The committee applauds Neil’s success in launching the clinic, which after only one year has drawn the Washington State Department of Children, Youth, and Families as an official partner. 

Putting Others First

Jack, Meha, Neil, and Diego have shown a profound public service ethic and a track record of putting the needs of others ahead of their own. The WSBA is fortunate to have such dedicated new and young members. 

. . .

Learn More

For additional information about the Public Service and Leadership Award, or to learn about ways to volunteer with a pro bono or public service program, please visit www.wsba.org.

About the author

Aaron Haynes will be joining Chmelik Sitkin & Davis in Bellingham as an associate in December 2021. He is currently an associate with Montoya Hinckley PLLC in Yakima, where he is involved in general practice.


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