Justice Mary Fairhurst (’79) J.D. (’84, Honorary ’06) was elected State Supreme Court Justice in 2002, taking office the following year. She was re-elected in 2008 and will seek re-election in 2014. Following graduation, Fairhurst clerked with Chief Justice William H. Williams and Justice William C. Goodloe for two years as a Supreme Court clerk, then became an assistant attorney general, where she worked for Attorneys General Christine Gregoire and Ken Eikenberry. She specialized in the areas of criminal justice, transportation, revenue and labor.
Fairhurst is active on numerous committees that deal with diversity and access to justice, and making an impact on the lives of Washington citizens. She organized the first statewide conferences on domestic violence, planned and facilitated a youth violence summit, and organized and moderated conferences dealing with sex offenders in the community. She has also worked to enhance opportunities for women and minorities in the profession and to ensure access to justice for low-income individuals and families.
“It was really to make a difference and to serve people,” said Fairhurst, who comes from a long line of Jesuit-educated people anxious to help others. Her grandfather graduated from Gonzaga in 1912, followed by her father in the mid-1950s.
“Five of my six siblings have degrees from Gonzaga, and so I always wanted to serve,” she said. “And I thought law would be an excellent way for me to do that.”
She was the second woman and the youngest attorney ever to serve as the president of the Washington State Bar Association. She also served on the Bar Board of Governors, representing the Third Congressional District and as President of the Washington Women Lawyers.
Seattle University Law School established the Justice Mary E. Fairhurst Public Interest Law Foundation Grant, which works to broaden opportunities and experiences for Seattle University School of Law students who aim to pursue public interest legal careers. Justice Fairhurst is very active with her alma matter as well. She has served on the Board of Regents and School of Law Board of Advisors, is a member of the Tacoma Alumni Chapter and Law School Alumni Association, participates with the Gonzaga Alumni Mentor Program and Moot Court, and is a winner of the Myra Bradley Award and Linden Cup.