For Immediate Release

Shari Ireton
University of Washington School of Law


UW School of Law to Honor Outstanding Alumni

The UW School of Law will honor four alumni at the 2008 Alumni Recognition Banquet on Thursday, May 22, 2008 at the Grand Hyatt in Seattle: Chief Justice Gerry Alexander '64, Professor Marjorie Rombauer '60, Judge William Downing '78, and J.H. Jerry Zhu, LL.M. '82. The awards are bestowed by the Law School Alumni Association.

Gerry Alexander '64Gerry Alexander '64

Henry M. Jackson Distinguished Alumni Public Service Award

Chief Justice Gerry Alexander ’64 is the longest serving chief justice in Washington’s history. First elected to a seat on the Washington Supreme Court in 1994, he was re-elected in 2000 and 2006. Of all nine justices on the Court, he has been in the judiciary the longest, first as a Superior Court judge for Thurston and Mason Counties (1973-84) and then on the Court of Appeals, Division II (1985-94) before joining the Supreme Court.

In his administrative role, Alexander has been a champion for equal justice and equal access to justice. He is proud of his efforts to improve public funding for legal services for the poor and to ensure that the state’s courts are adequately funded.

As a superior court judge, Alexander served as a member of the Board of Trustees of the Superior Court Judges’ Association and chaired its Committee on Improvement of Judicial Administration. During his tenure on the Court of Appeals, he served as chief judge of Division Two from 1989 to 1990 and in 1993. He also taught a course in Professional Responsibility at the University of Puget Sound Law School and served as an alternate member of the Judicial Conduct Commission. Alexander is presently chair of the Advisory Commission on Washington Law Reports, the Bench-Bar-Press Committee of the State of Washington, and the Board for Judicial Administration. He is a co-founder and board member of the Washington Courts Historical Society and participates in many charitable, religious, and civic organizations.

Alexander, who was born in Aberdeen, received his undergraduate degree in history from the University of Washington and was a lieutenant in the U.S. Army before returning to the UW for his law degree. The Law School Alumni Association honored him with its distinguished alumnus award in 2000.

Marjorie Rombauer '60Marjorie Rombauer '60

Service Recognition Award

Marjorie Rombauer has had a stellar career in service to the law community, legal education, and the justice system. A member of the faculty at the UW School of Law for more than 30 years and acting dean in 1991, Rombauer was a prolific scholar whose works on legal problem solving, research, writing, and analysis informed generations of law students.

Immediately after graduating from law school, Rombauer accepted a one-year appointment as a legal research and writing instructor. She went on to become the first non-librarian, tenured female faculty member at the School of Law. She changed the way law schools approached legal writing, and her course text, Legal Problem Solving: Analysis, Research and Writing, reflected that innovative approach. First published in 1970, Rombauer’s book went to a fifth edition and was a staple first-year course book at many schools throughout the country for many years.

Upon her retirement in 1994, an award was established in her name to honor her contributions to the legal writing field, presented annually to a person in the field by the national Association of Legal Writing Directors. In 2000, she was named one of the ten outstanding teachers in the first 100 years of the School of Law.

In addition to her critical work in legal writing, analysis, and research, she did scholarly work on creditor-debtor law. In 1986-87, she drafted and secured adoption of a comprehensive bill modernizing Washington’s judgment and debt enforcement laws and conforming them to new constitutional requirements. For this work, she received the Washington State Bar Association Award of Merit. She has been honored with the Washington Law Review Outstanding Achievement Award (1992), Law School Alumni Association Distinguished Alumni Award (1996), and Law Women’s Caucus Distinguished Alumna Award (2007).

William Downing '78William Downing '78

Distinguished Alumni Award

More than 25 years ago while at the King County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, William Downing, along with Robert Lasnik, directed the successful prosecution of the perpetrators of the Wah Mee Massacre, one of the most famous murder cases in Seattle’s history. Four years ago, Downing was the presiding judge in another famous case: the same-sex marriage case brought to King County Superior Court. William Downing is no stranger to difficult cases and hard decisions.

After serving in the King County Prosecutor’s Office for 11 years, Downing was appointed to King County Superior Court by Governor Booth Gardner. Now in his 20th year on the bench, Downing is known for his fairness and integrity. In both civil and criminal cases, he is respected by counsel on both sides for his deliberative process and careful consideration of the issues. He has been honored by the King County Bar Association, Washington State Trial Lawyers Association, Washington State Bar Association Family Law Section, and American Board of Trial Advocates.

Downing currently serves as co-chair of the Washington Supreme Court Committee on Pattern Jury Instructions, having been a member of this Committee since the mid-1980s. He has stayed active in media issues, serving since 1999 as chair of the Washington State Bench-Bar-Press Liaison Committee. He has been honored by the King County Bar Association, Washington State Trial Lawyers Association, Washington State Bar Association Family Law Section, and American Board of Trial Advocates.

Downing works in the community with high school students, giving them insight into how the system works and the roles of lawyers and judges. For 20 years, he has been a strong advocate and supporter of the annual mock trial competitions sponsored by the YMCA and prepares case materials, judges competitions, and ensures that the students not only learn about the court and the courtroom but become better citizens in the process.

J.H. Jerry Zhu, LL.M. '82J.H. Jerry Zhu, LL.M. '82

Distinguished Alumni Award

Jerry Zhu, born and raised in Shanghai, China, studied law at the Law Research Institute of the Shanghai Academy of Social Sciences. He emigrated to the United States in 1981 to continue his studies and received his LL.M. from the UW School of Law in 1982. In 1987 Zhu became the first Washington state bar member from mainland China, and three years later, the first Chinese national to make partner at a major American law firm.

When, in 1994, Zhu opened the Shanghai office of Davis Wright Tremaine, it was the first time the Chinese government allowed an American law firm to establish a presence in Shanghai. He also negotiated the first agreement permitting a foreign company to use land in China, which triggered the start of the commercial use of land with monetary compensation and the ensuing real estate market in China.

Today, with more than 25 years of experience at Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Zhu uses his expertise in China’s legal and government systems to advise and represent American and Chinese companies on a wide range of legal issues that arise from foreign investment in China and Chinese investment in the United States. These issues involve the structuring of the proposed investment, establishing the appropriate legal vehicles, constructing manufacturing facilities, mergers and acquisitions, intellectual property protection, labor and employment, and more. He also negotiates joint venture contracts between Chinese entities and foreign-owned enterprises and represents Chinese companies on legal issues involving their American operations.

Zhu is a trailblazer for hundreds of legal professionals, who are now focusing on China-related legal matters and working as lawyers in the China practice groups of prestigious international law firms, within in-house counsel departments of multinational companies, and in the legislative and executive branches of governments as well as teaching at universities.

As an affiliate professor, Zhu taught Chinese law at the UW School of Law for nine years.

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