Hillary with husband Rob and children: Clare (age 2), Levi (age 6), and Paris (age 2)
Hillary Madsen was born and raised in Washington, where her mother serves as a judge and her father was a public defender. She holds a bachelor’s degree from the University of Washington and earned her law degree from Seattle University. Her legal career began in private practice, representing private clients in contentious civil litigation, but after five years she walked away from her downtown Seattle practice to dedicate her career to representing children and youth and those incarcerated in Washington immigrant detention centers, jails, and prisons. She has represented her clients through trials, appeals, administrative proceedings, lobbying, and coalition building in our community.
Hillary says: “I look at each of my clients and ask two questions: how can I ensure this person is treated fairly, and how is this system working to create a fair or unfair result? It’s this system-based perspective that I plan to bring to the bench.”
Having worked for large law firms, the government, a legal nonprofit, and a small family law firm, she has appeared in almost every department of the King County Superior Court (Family, Ex-Parte, Criminal, Civil, Juvenile, and Dependency), preparing her to take on the diverse work of the court.
She has also practiced law in every arena, including the state legislature, administrative bodies, trial courts, and appellate courts. She’s presented criminal and civil cases to 12-person juries and trial judges and has argued appeals to some of the highest courts in Washington. This broad legal experience has given her an "A to Z" perspective on the law, which is why she knows the legal system can work better and has taken action to improve it, particularly for children and youth. The impact she’s had to date includes:
Securing the right for kids in foster care to get attorneys
Affording students experiencing homelessness with education advocates
Reforming juvenile record-sealing laws so kids get a second chance
Confronting the use of solitary confinement for kids
Challenging legal financial obligations to end the practice of imposing fees on youth who can’t afford to pay them
Investigating medical neglect at the Northwest Detention Center
Hillary continues to practice law today, carrying a tough case load representing vulnerable children in foster care and families involved in the child welfare system. She’s also an active volunteer and mentor in programs at the Monroe Correctional Center and the Washington Corrections Center for Women. She serves on the board of Children’s Alliance, a local nonprofit focused on the well-being of children across Washington, with a special focus on children of color. She also actively serves as a section leader and representative for the Washington State Bar Association.
Outside of the courtroom and her volunteerism, Hillary and her spouse are raising three children, an aging rescue dog, and an (occasionally) productive vegetable garden.
Hillary with her mom Barbara
Levi (age 6) with Della (age 16)