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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 by interim Co-Directors, Dr. Sarah Hampson and Dr. Elizabeth Bruch, under the leadership of Dr. Jill Purdy and Dr. Ali Modarres.

Jill Purdy, Ph.D., Executive Vice Chancellor for Academic Affairs

Dr. Purdy is a founding faculty member of the Milgard School of Business. Her expertise is in management and organizational sociology. She served as director of the MBA program from 2000-2005, as Academic Director of the Center for Leadership and Social Responsibility from 2006-2012, and as Interim Dean from 2015-2016.

Her current research includes the study of social entrepreneurs, Institutional influences on business social practices, and cross-sector collaboration and conflict resolution.

Photographic portrait of Jill Purdy

Elizabeth M. Bruch, J.D., Ph.D., Interim Co-Director

Elizabeth Bruch will serve as co-Director of Legal Pathways for 2018-19. Dr. Bruch is an Assistant Professor in SIAS at UW Tacoma. She began her career as a lawyer, working on complex litigation in New York and Minneapolis, as well as serving in a small legal aid office on the North Slope of Alaska.  She pursued her interest in social justice into international work. She served for two years in post-conflict Bosnia as the Executive Officer of a human rights court created by the Dayton Peace Agreement, and she has done human rights fieldwork in Haiti, Namibia, Tanzania, Kosovo, Romania, China, and elsewhere. She left practice to become a law professor and legal scholar, teaching on the faculty at American University’s Washington College of Law, Arizona State University College of Law, and Valparaiso University School of Law, and also serving as visiting faculty at Notre Dame Law School. She taught courses in skills and doctrine across the law school curriculum, and at the undergraduate level, she has taught courses on international law and policy, crime, justice, and society, and the legal system.  She is author of Human Rights and Humanitarian Intervention: Law and Practice in the Field (Routledge, 2016) and numerous publications on a range of legal issues, including domestic violence, international standards in domestic law, gender, human rights and the rule of law, hybrid courts, human trafficking, and immigration reform.

Photographic portrait of Elizabeth Bruch

Sarah Cote Hampson, Ph.D., Interim Co-Director

Sarah Hampson will serve as co-Director of Legal Pathways for 2018-19. 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 Engagement

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.