Main page content

History and mission

Legal Pathways at UW Tacoma is a new initiative, funded by the Washington State Legislature, to build and support law-related opportunities and curriculum on campus and to promote the success of students interested in pursuing law school, other graduate and professional studies related to law, and law-related careers.  Our mission is to:

  • Provide students with the knowledge necessary to negotiate their way through a diverse range of law-related careers.
  • Assist UWT students to become as competitive as possible for law-related graduate programs, and widen the pipeline into those careers.
  • Support and expand our community based law-related curriculum.
  • Identify and mentor a cohort of UW Tacoma students with strong promise for diversifying the legal field.
  • Enhance pathways for legal talent to return to our community.
  • Support and provide community outreach, education and engagement.
  • Advocate for a just legal system in our local community.

Group portrait of UW Tacoma pre law society students



Legal Pathways is currently directed Patricia Sully, J.D., under the leadership of Dr. Ali Modarres.

Patricia Sully, J.D., Director of Legal Pathways

Patricia Sully joined UW Tacoma in late August of 2019 after five years with the Seattle-based Public Defender Association, most recently serving as that organization’s policy director. The PDA is a nationally-renowned non-profit that advocates for justice-system reform in King County informed by many of the values that we share: social and racial equity, and community-engaged advocacy. While at the PDA, Patricia has led the creation of VOCAL-WA, which supports legal system advocacy campaigns chosen and led by grassroots community leaders.

She is a 2011 J.D. graduate, magna cum laude, of Seattle University School of Law, where she has also served as an adjunct professor and as assistant director of the Access to Justice Institute. An alum of the Peace Corps (Botswana), Patricia is licensed to practice law in both Washington and New York State.

In her new role at UW Tacoma, Patricia will provide leadership for Legal Pathways' initiatives and programs, and will accommodate student advising and mentoring, pipeline development, event management and other components of the program. She will work closely with faculty, including Drs. Sarah Hampson and Elizabeth Bruch. She will build relationships with community partners throughout the South Sound, including a new community advisory board for Legal Pathways, and serve as a connector to the King County legal community. She will develop and deliver pre-law learning content through teaching and special projects and events, and she will oversee the day-to-day activities of the program.

Sarah Cote Hampson, Ph.D., Faculty Coordinator 

Sarah Hampson will serve as Faculty Coordinator of Legal Pathways for 2019-20. Dr. Hampson is an Assistant Professor in SIAS at UW Tacoma. She received her Ph.D. in Political Science in 2014 from the University of Connecticut, specializing in Public Law and American Politics. Dr. Hampson has published two books, The Balance Gap: Working Mothers and the Limits of the Law (Stanford University Press 2017) and Mothers, Military and Society (with Udi Lebel and Nancy Taber, eds. Demeter Press 2018), as well as several articles and book chapters. Dr. Hampson’s publications and teaching emphasize the interconnections between law, politics and public policy, with a particular focus on increasing marginalized voices in law and society. Her expertise extends to topics including, but not limited to, employment law and policy, sexual harassment and sexual violence on college campuses, law and public discourse, and race, gender and ethnicity in electoral politics.

Photographic portrait of Dr. Sarah Hampson

Ali Modarres, Ph.D., Assistant Chancellor for Community Partnerships

Ali Modarres is the Director of Urban Studies at University of Washington Tacoma. He is the editor of Cities: The International Journal of Urban Policy and Planning and serves on a number of research and policy advisory boards. Dr. Modarres earned his Ph.D. in geography from the University of Arizona and holds master and bachelor degrees in landscape architecture from the same institution. He specializes in urban geography and his primary research and publication interests are socio-spatial urban dynamics. He has published in the areas of social geography, immigration, urban development and planning policy.

Photographic portrait of Ali Modarres

Advisory boards

Legal Pathways is also supported by a community advisory board and a faculty advisory board.