For Immediate Release

Katja Sipple
University of Washington School of Law


Roberta Katz receives 2005 Sharon Nelson Leadership Award

Former Netscape VP chosen for contributions to law and technology
2005 Nelson Award

From left: Judge Don Horowitz, Sharon Nelson, Ron Hjorth, 2005 award winner Roberta Katz and Anita Ramasastry

Seattle – Roberta R. Katz, associate vice president of strategic planning at Stanford University, is the 2005 Sharon Nelson Leadership Award recipient. Every year, the Shidler Center for Law Commerce & Technology selects an outstanding alumna/alumnus to acknowledge significant contributions in the fields of law and technology. The award was presented on April 26 at the Shidler Center’s third annual Spring Awards Event at William H. Gates Hall. This year, the ceremony included a lecture, “Meeting of the Minds: Interdisciplinary Approaches in Science, Technology and Law,” in room 138 and was followed by a reception.

Katz is a 1980 graduate of the UW School of Law, and was one of the founders and the CEO of Flywheel Communications, Inc., a company specializing in the use of technology to manage rights-related transactions and dispute resolutions. She also served as senior vice president and general counsel of Netscape Communications Corp. Before becoming an attorney, Katz, who has a Ph.D. from Columbia University, was a cultural anthropologist and studied the effects of technological and social change. She conducted a study about the effects of the Information Age on the American civil justice system; the results were published in a 1997 book: “Justice Matters: Rescuing the Legal System for the 21st Century.”

Currently, Katz provides senior-level coordination and assistance to faculty and deans in a number of the university's high-profile multi-disciplinary programs, including Bio-X and the new environmental initiative. In addition, she is a member of several corporate and nonprofit boards, and the director of the Charles and Roberta Katz Family Foundation in Palo Alto, Calif. The Daily Journal called her one of the “100 Most Influential Lawyers in California, while the National Law Journal named her one of “The Fifty Most Influential Women Lawyers in America.”

“My alma mater, the UW School of Law, has stepped out in front of so many of its peers by seeking to address the tough legal issues associated with the arrival of the information age,” Katz said upon being notified of her selection. “Given the Shidler Center’s own role as a leader, I am all the more proud and honored to be this year’s recipient of the Sharon Nelson Leadership Award,” noting that the center demonstrates how an institution can effectively bring together experts from different fields to help answer pressing questions.

Katz was nominated by Professor Robert Aronson, a criminal and sports law expert at the UW, who describes her as “one of the law school’s best and brightest, an outstanding role model [whose] book [offers] a thoughtful look at the ‘win at all costs’ mentality in the legal profession and its effect on the ability to obtain justice.” A three-member awards committee, consisting of Sonya Erickson of Heller Ehrman LLP, Glenn Kawasaki of Catch Incorporated, and Professor Ed Lazowska, the UW’s Bill and Melinda Gates Chair in computer science and engineering.

Shidler Center Logo

The award was established in 2003 and is named after the Shidler Center’s first director, Sharon Nelson, who worked at the university from September 2000 to April 2003. She also served as the chairwoman for the Washington Utilities and Transportation Commission from 1985 to 1997. Judge Betty Fletcher, U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit, was the first recipient, followed by Greg Simon, president of Faster Cures, in 2004.

“Many of our alumni are leaders in the law and technology arenas. The Shidler Center hopes that its work and focus will spur our current students to emulate the work of people like Katz, Simon and Fletcher,” said Anita Ramasastry, the center’s co-director.

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