Honorable Eileen A. Kato is a Seattle Life Fellow and 2020-21 Chair of the ABF Fellows. She is a past Chair of the Washington Fellows of the Foundation. She was appointed to the King County District Court (Seattle) in June of 1994, and recently retired from the bench in March of 2016. Judge Kato joined the Fellows in March of 2011.
What does being a Fellow mean to you?
Being a Fellow of the American Bar Foundation has been and continues to be such an honor and privilege to support this distinguished international society of attorneys, judges, law faculty, legal scholars, and others in the legal community. I am continually learning from and become inspired by the amazing and timely research by our ABF faculty and of the commitment of the ABF Board, Fellows, Faculty, and staff to the ABF mission to expand knowledge and advance justice by supporting innovative, interdisciplinary, and rigorous empirical research on law, legal processes, and legal institutions.
Where were you born and raised?
I was born in Ogden, Utah, and raised in two smaller Utah communities.
Why did you decide to pursue a career in law?
While pursuing my M.B.A., I was fortunate to be in a business law class taught by a dynamic young lawyer, who encouraged us to consider a career in the law. I was particularly inspired to pursue law as profession as a way to pursue justice in our society, having witnessed the impact of so many instances of injustice personal to me, such as the incarceration of Japanese Americans during World War II, the civil rights movement of the 1960s, the women’s movement of the 70s, and the many challenges I perceived facing so many women and people of color.
If you hadn’t pursued a career in law, what would you have done?
I applied for both a doctorate in business to teach at the college level and to law school; then left to fate which application was accepted first. Fortunately, as a faculty member of the National Judicial College for 20 years, I have had the opportunity to pursue both passions.
What do you do in your free time?
I enjoy our local sports teams – being an avid Seahawk fan – Go Hawks! and a long-suffering Marner’s fan. I love international travel, where I try to observe various court proceedings, take cooking classes, and meet and connect with local citizens. I also enjoy hosting dinner parties, gardening, golfing, skiing, and volunteering at the local legal clinic.
Anything else you’d like to add?
I welcome any questions or concerns Fellows may have about the Fellows and the incredible research being done. I also encourage Fellows to join us at the Fellows Events at the ABA Midyear and Annual Meetings.