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About WDA

This folder contains general information about WDA.

110 Prefontaine Place South, Suite 610
Seattle, WA 98104
Phone: (206) 623-4321
Fax: (206) 623-5420

Our Mission 

Washington Defender Association promotes, assists, and encourages public defense systems to ensure that all accused persons in every Washington court receives effective assistance of counsel. 

Our Policies 

To provide assistance to public defenders and public defender organizations through training, centralized resources, and sharing of common issues in management and funding of public defender cases, public defender offices, and public defender systems.

To promote, update, publicize, and further the Standards for Public Defense Services as standards for the provision of services in public defense systems and to encourage their use and implementation by government, public defenders, and public defender organizations. 

To support and assist public defenders and public defender organizations in individual cases, ethical dilemmas, and public defense systems.

To seek to reform and improve public defense systems and the administration of justice and to stimulate efforts to remedy inadequacies or injustice in substantive or procedural law. 

Our Goals

To support and encourage public defense attorneys to provide the highest quality representation. 

To ensure that attorneys handling public defense matters have case loads which allow them to provide effective assistance of counsel to all clients. 

To promote adequate funding, compensation, and resources for the defense of the indigent accused. 

To promote confidence and respect for the defense function. 

To promote effective and efficient representation that maintains the confidence and dignity of clients.

WDA is the voice of indigent defense in Olympia and Washington DC, advocating on behalf of indigent defense issues and the people who are affected by these issues. We work actively to oppose legislation which would seriously undermine constitutional protections for people accused of crimes. WDA supports positive legislation which would help fund indigent defense services or otherwise assist public defense agencies in protecting the rights of the accused. In addition, we support efforts which would provide alternatives to incarceration when appropriate. WDA was instrumental in passage of HB 1542 which provides state funding to public defenders and reinforces WDA's standards for public defense services. WDA's standards have been endorsed by the Washington State Bar Association and are referenced in RCW 10.101.

Please read the WSBA Indigent Defense Standards or RCW 10.101.


  • Created the Standards for Public Defense Services which were endorsed by the Washington State Bar Association (WSBA) and are referenced in RCW 10.101. 
  • Established and participed in numerous task forces on public defense services that have led to reforms including passage of RCW 10.101 in 1989 which mandated that local government’s establish standards. 
  • Drafted language and worked for passage of the establishment of the Washington State Office of Public Defense.
  • Advocated for the establishment of the WSBA’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Public Defense and its successor the Committee on Public Defense.
  • Drafted language and worked to pass 2005 legislative reforms that provide state funding to counties for public defense services if they endeavor to meet standards.
  • Provided over 200 Continuing Legal Education Seminars and responded to over 20,000 technical assistance requests through the WDA Immigration Project and other issue-focused projects including assistance on defending drug cases, clients with special needs, juveniles, children’s representation, and sentencing advocacy.  Provide technical assistance for felony and misdemeanor public defenders through state Office of Public Defense funding.
  • Recipient of a national award in honor of its work to fund and expand TeamChild.
  • Established annual defender conference that provides training and networking support to over 200 defender lawyers and support staff each year.
  • Appeared as amicus counsel in two dozen state and federal appellate court cases, addressing right to counsel, sentencing, immigration, and evidentiary issues.
  • Provide national and state legislative advocacy to improve public defense services and to protect the rights of public defense clients.  Together with national and state prosecutors have helped pass the J.R. Justice Act which will provide student loan forgiveness to public defenders and prosecutors.
  • Represented defenders' interests in a variety of committees, including the Washington State Law and Justice Advisory Committee, the Washington State Byrne Committee, Washington State Bar Association committees, the National Legal Aid and Defender Association, and the American Council of Chief Defenders.

WDA Staff

For a complete listing of staff, follow this link to the Staff Directory.

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