MIGUEL WILLIS, Founder
ACCESS TO JUSTICE + TECHNOLOGY:
- Miguel Willis is a second year law student at Seattle University School of Law. Miguel founded and organized the first Social Justice Hackathon in Seattle, WA, bringing together law students, lawyers, non-profit organizations, and software developers to crank out apps and programs that help increase access to legal services. Teams worked throughout the weekend on projects that aimed to make legal services more accessible to the 80% of the poor and 60% of the middle class who are unable to afford legal representation. Among the programs developed in just one weekend were Court Whisperer, which allows people to fill out court documents by speaking, PaidIt, an app that helps tenants fight eviction by providing proof of paid bills, and Social Justice League’s legal advice clinic app used by pro bono attorneys to “shop for” and send clients self-help materials relevant to their situation. The impact of the hackathon is long-lasting not only because low-income legal aid and pro bono clients will benefit from the apps, but also because more partners like the Seattle’s Mayor, Microsoft and a growing number of legal aid organizations are joining the cause and looking forward to continuing to organize hackathons. Miguel’s work on the hackathon has had a national impact as he’s presented as a national hackathon symposium and been a resource for other law students and lawyers trying to do similar things in other states. He was recently recognized as “Law Student of the Year” by the National Jurist for work with the hackathon and other endeavors.
- Law school is expensive and textbooks are no exception. In his first year of law school, Miguel worked with a developer to create CaseBooker, an app that makes it easier to buy and sell used case books for students who are looking for less expensive alternatives to buying new books. Miguel’s CaseBooker team made it into final rounds of business planning competitions at both Seattle University and University of Washington.
- Miguel’s commitment to racial justice is demonstrated by his leadership and activism. Through his leadership roles as President of the law school’s Black Law Student Association and Director of Marketing for the National Black Law Student Association, he has been involved with several youth of color mentorship programs and regularly helps our Admissions Office personally recruit law students from historically Black colleges and universities.
- Miguel’s passion for technology and social justice intersects with his commitment with mentoring youth and empowering communities of color. He frequently gives presentations about creating more opportunities for youth of color in the fields of law and technology.
- During the course of serving as a Law Student Liaison for the King County Bar Association (KCBA) and volunteering for its Young Lawyers Division’s legal advice clinic, he became aware of KCBA’s call for lawyers to support the building of a new juvenile detention center and decided to step down from his KCBA position. He helped lead a movement among law students at Seattle University.
ACCESS TO JUSTICE + BUSINESS:
- Miguel has volunteered with Wayfind, a pro bono organization that matches pro bono lawyers and law students with nonprofit organizations and low-income microentrepreneurs. He works side by side with business and other transactional lawyers, assisting with advising clients with issues ranging from board governance to contracts and leases to intellectual property.
- He directs the Application/Cultivation/Elevation (ACE) Program, a six-week program where youth learn how innovate. Instructors introduce their business and throughout the program slowly unpack the essential necessities of owning a successful business. Through this program, student participants learn conceptualization, teamwork, innovation techniques, elevator speeches/public speaking skills, branding, promotion, design, how to make a legitimate business presentation, and how to make an app.
- Prior to studying at Seattle University School of Law, Miguel worked at the Department of Justice Office of Immigration Litigation, where he served as a paralegal for six years. Despite having his hand in a myriad of social justice work as described above, he has continued to be involved with immigration advocacy. He regularly volunteers with several immigrant service organizations including Ayuda Immigration Services Organization and Lutheran Social Services Immigration Division.
- Miguel currently works with the City of Seattle, Office of Immigrant & Refugee Affairs, where he is assisting on content and strategy for the creation of a Citizenship web portal. The web portal will be a one stop shop for residents of Seattle and surrounding King County cities to obtain resources to assist with becoming U.S. citizens.