ABAW Student Scholarship Foundation

The Asian Bar Association of Washington Student Scholarship Foundation (“ABAWSSF”) provides financial assistance in the form of scholarships to students of Asian heritage currently pursuing a J.D. degree at law schools in the State of Washington.  For 2020, ABAWSSF will award five scholarships, in the following amounts: 

  •      Yamashita Scholarship - $5,000
  •       Sharon A. Sakamoto President’s Scholarship - $3,000
  •       ABAWSSF General Scholarship - $1,000 
  •        ABAWSSF General Scholarship - $1,000
  •        ABAWSSF General Scholarship - $1,000

  • The Yamashita Scholarship is named after Takuji Yamashita (1874–1959).  Mr. Yamashita was born in Japan and emigrated to the United States in the 1890s.  He graduated from Tacoma High School in two years, graduated with a law degree from the University of Washington as a part of its second-ever graduating class, and passed the state bar exam.  In processing his bar application, the Washington State Supreme Court issued a decision that Mr. Yamashita was not eligible to be an American citizen and, therefore, could not practice law.  This decision was overturned, posthumously, nearly 100 years later on March 1, 2001.

    The Sharon A. Sakamoto President's Scholarship is named after Sharon Sakamoto, ABAW’s first President (and one if its founders) in 1988.  In law school, she was a part of the legal team for Gordon Hirabayashi, a Japanese American convicted for civil disobedience during World War II. She is now retired, but her prior law practice at Aoki Sakamoto Grant emphasized justice and equality and meeting clients’ needs in business, estate planning, immigration, and criminal defense. In addition to being active in local and minority bar associations, she has served on the board of Kawabe Memorial House and many other organizations.

    Application Process and Requirements

    To be eligible for a scholarship, you must be a law student of Asian heritage, currently enrolled in a law school in the State of Washington, and pursuing a J.D. degree.  The following materials are required to apply for the scholarships:

    1)    A copy of your résumé;

    2)    Evidence of your current enrollment at an American Bar Association accredited law school in the State of Washington (acceptable evidence includes an unofficial law school transcript or, for first year law students, a class schedule provided by the law school);

    3)    A personal statement, no longer than 1,000 words, describing your contributions to the Asian Pacific Islander (“API”) community and your plans to contribute to the API community following graduation from law school; and

    4)    Two (2) references (their name, relationship to you, email, and phone number).

 All application materials must be e-mailed to scholarship@abaw.org no later than 5 p.m. on Friday, October 23, 2020. Applications must be in either .PDF or Microsoft Word format. 

Candidates in consideration for a scholarship will be notified on Monday, October 26, 2020 for the interview phase of the application process.  Interviews will be held on Wednesday, October 28, 2020.  Interviews will be held by video conference and will last no more than 20 minutes.  

The recipients of the 2020 ABAWSSF Scholarships will be notified on Friday, October 30, 2020.  A formal announcement of the selected recipients will be made on a later date.  In preparation for the announcement, scholarship recipients may be required to work with ABAWSSF to record a short video introducing themselves and briefly describing what the scholarship means to them, along with their plans to contribute to the API community in the future. The act of applying for a scholarship constitutes a release by the applicant of your application materials and your consent to any reasonable publication of information contained in such materials by ABAWSSF and ABAW.

Please direct any questions to David Tran, ABAW Scholarship Chair, at dtran@helsell.com.  

*ABAWSSF reserves the right, in its sole discretion, to change the number of scholarships awarded, the dollar amount of each scholarship, and/or to not award any scholarships in 2020.

*Please note that past scholarship recipients and immediate family members of current ABAWSSF and ABAW voting board members are ineligible for a 2020 ABAWSSF Scholarship.

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