Equality Committee Multnomah Lawyer Articles

July/August 2008 Multnomah Lawyer article

Lynn Nakamoto: Litigator, Civil Libertarian, Managing Shareholder

By Stacy R. Owen, Markowitz Herbold et al

The MBA Equality Committee provides articles that highlight activities and programs which promote and provide better understanding of the diversity in our legal profession and in our community. If you would like to recognize an individual, group or firm for their commitment to equality, please contact Kathy Maloney, staff to the MBA Equality Committee. The following is the sixth article in this series.

Lynn Nakamoto serves as managing shareholder of the commercial litigation firm Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf, a post she has held since November 2006. Since arriving in Oregon in the 1980s, Lynn has been actively involved in the legal community through groups such as Oregon Women Lawyers, Oregon Minority Lawyers Association (OMLA), the Oregon Gay and Lesbian Law Association and the OSB Affirmative Action Committee.

Of her many contributions to advance diversity, Lynn is most passionate about her pro bono efforts on behalf of the ACLU in Tanner v. OHSU, which helped to secure equal benefits for same sex domestic partners and their families in Oregon. Sharing that it takes a lot of effort to be a highly stigmatized minority, to be gay or lesbian in America, Lynn believes the Tanner decision will help members of Oregon's gay and lesbian community to finally be recognized as part of society. She further emphasized that no level of professional accomplishment could substitute for being denied the fundamental right to marry.

Lynn's efforts to promote equality have been widely recognized. She received the Judge Mercedes Deiz Award, which recognizes outstanding contributions in promoting minorities in the legal profession and the community. She was presented the John Grigsby-Jim Vegher Investments in Dignity Award for her contributions to build communities that embrace the dignity and worth of all people.

Her efforts are ongoing. Lynn acknowledged that she can quietly use her post as managing shareholder to advance equality issues by serving as an example. During her 21 years in Portland, she cannot recall another woman of color serving as a firm's managing shareholder. She is pleased that younger members of OMLA contemplating their careers have remarked about how they, too, can take on similar roles.

Despite her accomplishments and the recognition she has received, Lynn suggested that others' work should be highlighted. As an example, she praised the efforts of younger members of OMLA, who have organized networking and social events for law students, provided bar examination preparation scholarships to minority bar applicants, held quarterly luncheons and created an electronic mailing list (a listserv) for OMLA members. You can learn more and get involved with OMLA at http://omla.homestead.com.

When asked the rather generic question of naming her proudest accomplishment, she paused and finally replied that she doesn't think on those terms. Her view is broader. She explained that she strives to be able to live her life the way she wants to live it. In doing so, Lynn's efforts continue to advance equality in the legal profession and beyond.

Stacy R. Owen is an associate with Markowitz, Herbold, Glade & Mehlhaf, PC. She can be reached at StacyOwen@MHGM.com.