By Mark Fefer
When QLaw, the GLBT Bar Association of Washington State, was just getting off the ground in 2006, Zana Bugaighis was a first-year law student at the University of Washington. She immediately volunteered for the fledgling organization, and her duties included reading off a list of honorees at the first annual QLaw banquet.
This past April, Bugaighis found herself speaking at the banquet again—and this time it was to accept the job of association president.
“I think minority bars are extremely valuable,” says Bugaighis, who joined Davis Wright as a third-year associate in January 2011. “They help to provide community. It’s a source of mentorship. And it’s a great forum for practicing networking and business development.”
For Bugaighis, there was no question about her main agenda item: Marriage equality. At the time she was elevated to the job of president, Washington state’s legislature had passed, and the governor had signed, a measure legalizing same-sex marriage. But signatures were already being gathered for a referendum. A tough battle lay ahead as the referendum qualified for the ballot.
Bugaighis mobilized QLaw’s board to organize phone banks for voter outreach, as well as to plan and execute multiple fundraising events that brought in more than $70,000—all of which went to fund the voter education and turnout efforts of Washington United for Marriage. The campaign was victorious, as Washington joined Maine and Maryland in approving marriage for gay partners.
Bugaighis was assisted in her efforts by DWT marketing specialist Alex Liberato, a new member of the QLaw board and chair of QLaw’s communications committee, as well as Molly Klein, firmwide events planner at DWT, who is a member of QLaw’s events committee. Partner Roger Leishman also serves on QLaw’s advisory council.
Bugaighis says DWT has supported her QLaw involvement fully. The firm elevated its sponsorship of the QLaw banquet this year to reflect the increase in QLaw participation of both attorneys and staff. And the day after the banquet, DWT hosted a day-long CLE covering the legal issues that arise at all stages of an LGBT relationship. It attracted almost 70 attendees.