Governor Gary Locke’s Remarks
William H. Gates Hall Dedication
September 11, 2003
It is a great pleasure and indeed an honor to be part of the dedication ceremony for the William H. Gates School of Law on this great University of Washington campus.
That’s because this is a law school that almost didn’t happen!
When I took office as Governor in 1997, I walked into a huge legal controversy – literally! Years earlier the Legislature had provided funds for the design of a badly needed new law school here at the U.W. and promised construction dollars if private donors would raise a certain amount.
When the private donors came through (perhaps faster than the Legislature ever imagined), the Legislature refused to honor the commitment.
But if there is anything 1st year law school teaches us, a contract had been made. But more importantly, if public/private partnerships are ever to be successful, if we want to encourage private donations for major projects at our colleges and universities, if donors are ever to rely on Olympia, then it was imperative that we honor our commitment.
So, for two years, many of you and I insisted and persisted. Finally, in a roundabout way, the state provided $46 million for the construction of William H. Gates Hall. And here we are today dedicating a most impressive building – a testament to the power of that honored commitment to a great public-private partnership.
But the true power we feel today goes far beyond the bricks and mortar and glass. Today we feel the power of the rule of law, and the promise of future classes of excellent attorneys to use this power to make the world a better place.
I am proud to be a lawyer, and I love the law. I attended college during the tumultuous times of the anti-Vietnam War protests and the struggles for civil rights. I decided then that I wanted to become a lawyer to change and improve society peacefully through the law, rather than through violence.
Law school profoundly changed my life. It trained me to think more critically. You may have heard me referred to as a “policy wonk.” That’s because of my legal training – to be attentive to details, facts and implications.
The “rule of law” is the foundation of our society and is the framework by which we advance and progress. And from this magnificent new law school and with an outstanding faculty, will come the lawyers to do the hands-on work in clarifying, determining and protecting our rights; lawyers to help us resolve our disputes peacefully, to safeguard us from injustice and inequality; lawyers to give us the everyday tools we need to operate in a civilized, orderly society.
It is especially gratifying to stand here today, knowing that from this hall will come some of tomorrow’s great lawyers, scholars, jurists and civic leaders.
And what better example for budding young attorneys than William H. Gates?
Bill is a giant in the legal community, literally and figuratively. A distinguished alumnus of this law school. An attorney and partner in one of Seattle’s leading law firms for decades. President of the Washington State Bar Association.
As a new lawyer, I remember reading his provocative thoughts about the law and the role of law in his columns in the Washington State Bar News. Never did I ever imagine that I would ever get to know him personally!
Bill is also one of our state’s most respected civic leaders. He lives his belief that a responsible professional has an obligation to the profession—but an equally strong obligation to the community and to the future. He lives this belief with energetic conviction.
The name William H. Gates is synonymous with formidable legal expertise, tireless public service, and an impassioned commitment to education.
On behalf of the people of the state of Washington, we thank you, Bill, for all you have done to enrich the lives of people not just in our state, but also around the world. Your influence has been, and will continue to be, profound. We are confident that with your legacy as the inspiration, our of this amazing building will come amazing lawyers, committed to your principles in life – that human service is of the highest order.