ire appointed Bruce Heller of Seattle to a newly-created 52nd judge position in the King County Superior Court.
He started work on October 1 with a round of orientations.
“I’ve been going around meeting people in the courthouse, sitting in on various proceedings,” Bruce told me when we spoke the day before his first trial.
I asked if he was ready. “I think so. I’ve certainly had plenty of experience on the other side, so it’s not completely new to me.”
Heller, 57, a partner at the law firm Garvey Schubert Barer in Seattle, has devoted his career to labor and employment law. In addition to litigating, Heller has negotiated collective bargaining agreements, conducted workplace investigations and advised clients on a wide variety of legal compliance issues. As a labor lawyer, Heller represented employers, employees and labor unions. He has been a public defender and tried numerous criminal cases.
“I feel incredibly fortunate to have this opportunity,” he says. “There’s something extremely satisfying about hearing these disputes and not only applying the law correctly…but…in a way that the parties, (particularly the party that doesn’t prevail), have a feeling they’ve been heard and [that] the decision is fair.”
Heller feels that his work in collective bargaining, where he’s worked on both sides, has also prepared him for judging.
“I like people and really look forward to interacting with counsel and parties,” he says. “It’s sort of a multi-dimensional satisfaction.”
Because his father was a U.S. Foreign Service officer, Bruce spent much of his childhood in Europe, living or going to school in Copenhagen, Berlin, Reykjavik and Rome.
After attending Stanford University and UC Berkeley’s Boalt Hall School of Law, where he was an associate editor of the Industrial Relations Law Journal, Heller clerked for the Honorable James M. Fitzgerald, United States District Court, in Anchorage, Alaska. Before law school, he spent a summer as a Vista volunteer, helping senior citizens with social security problems.
Heller has served as the chair of the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission and as a volunteer attorney representing Court Appointed Special Advocates in dependency hearings. He’s been a volunteer for the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle and received the Pro Bono Publico Commendation from the Washington State Bar Association. Washington Law and Politics Magazine has named him a “Super Lawyer” four times.
“I really like to cook,” says Bruce of his down time, “and I’m kind of a jock, so I exercise regularly and I love golf.” The avid skier reports that he has been an empty nester for the past two months, with his youngest daughter just off to college and the oldest one recently graduated and working.
Jennifer Cohen is the new assistant director for the University of Washington’s Jewish Studies Program (the first assistant director the program has had).
“I work with the chair of the program, Paul Burstein, running the operations,” she says. “What that entails is a lot of outreach to the community and building connections on and off campus,” as well as fund development and working with faculty. There is also the usual budget work and administrative duties, including managing the scholarship and travel grant programs. Cohen also works with the program’s advisory board.
“The program has grown to the point that it actually warranted the addition of an assistant director,” she says. “I want to see the connection with the community really grow.”
Cohen is excited to have the opportunity to increase the visibility of the program, which is part of the Jackson School of International Studies. “It’s such a wonderful resource…I want to share it more.” She adds that the organization has “so many untapped resources the community would benefit from,” noting a variety of different lecture series and the Access program, which allows people over 60 to take classes at the UW for a nominal fee.
Before coming to the UW, Jennifer worked in the marketing and development departments of Jewish Family Service in Seattle. During that time, she also worked to earn a master’s degree in not-for-profit leadership from Seattle University.
A Seattle area resident since she was 6, Cohen grew up in Bellevue attending Newport High. She then attended the University of Oregon. “I’m a Pacific Northwest gal,” she observes. She and her husband, Michael Spiro, have 20-month-old twin boys, Aaron and Jordan, and belong to Congregation Beth Shalom. Jennifer enjoys hiking and vegetarian cooking, travel and football, as well as hanging out with her kids.
For more information on the Jewish Studies program and events, visit their Web site at www.jsis.washington.edu/jewish/, or call Jennifer at 206-543-0138.
Mercer Island psychologist Renee S. Katz, PhD., received the Social Issues Award from the Washington State Psychological Association last month. The award was presented in recognition of Katz’s application of psychology to community mental health in the public interest. Dr. Katz co-chairs the WSPA end-of-life task force and has actively promoted attention to the psychological needs of patients and families who are living with life-limiting illness, who are bereaved, or who are near the end of life. Dr. Katz and Therese Johnson recently published When Professionals Weep, the first book to address the emotional responses and needs of health care professionals working in end-of-life care.