Lara Hruska, Founding Partner Lara founded Cedar Law based on a holistic approach to school law informed by her unique background in education, social work, and the law. She is licensed to practice law in Washington and California. Lara received her JD from the University of Washington School of Law and also holds an MSW in Child and Family Welfare Policy from Columbia University, an MSEd in Special and General Childhood Education from Bank Street College of Education, and a BA in Peace and Conflict Studies from U.C. Berkeley. more
Chris Williams, Partner A former Washington State Assistant Attorney General and Seattle Public Schools Senior General Counsel, Chris has spent most of his career focusing on children’s rights. He has experience as a trial and appellate attorney, in-house counsel for the largest school district in the Pacific Northwest, and in advising a number of nonprofit and other corporate entities. more
Shannon M. McMinimee, Partner Shannon M. McMinimee has been practicing education and employment law since graduating with honors from the University of Washington School of Law in 2003. During law school, Shannon was a Managing Editor of the Washington Law Review and interned with the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, the United States Attorney’s Office for the Western District of Washington, and the Seattle School District. Prior to law school, she worked in social services. Shannon graduated from the University of Washington in 2000, where she was in the Political Science Honors Department and majored in Political Science and Societies and Justice. more
Michael (Mike) Smith, Partner Michael (Mike) Smith is a Partner who joined Cedar Law in 2021. He jumped at the chance to return to a practice dedicated to serving and supporting children, families and others in the education and school settings.
Prior to his most recent two year stint working as a Senior Deputy City Attorney with the City of Oakland, CA, Mike served as in-house counsel for the Oakland Unified School District (“OUSD”) for 14 years. He advised school district leadership and staff at all levels on contracting, open meetings law, claims, litigation, employment, public records requests, conflict of interest and other matters. more.
Angela Shapow, Of Counsel Angela joined Cedar Law because of her particular interest in educational justice. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy from Boise State University and a Juris Doctor from the University of Idaho. Prior to practicing law Angela directed and taught at an early childhood education center she owned. Angela served as an extern law clerk to the Honorable Larry M. Boyle of the U.S. District Court, District of Idaho and was awarded a certificate of superior service as a judicial intern. more
Michelle Mentzer, Of Counsel In 2001, Michelle C. Mentzer was appointed an administrative law judge with the Washington State Office of Administrative Hearings. She served there for almost 17 years, the last 10 of which she worked solely on education cases. In May 2018, Ms. Mentzer retired from OAH and worked as a volunteer attorney at the ACLU of Washington through the end of 2018. She joined Cedar Law PLLC in January 2019. more
Whitney Hill, Associate Whitney has been an advocate for education access for over a decade. She was admitted to the Washington Bar in 2018 and received her JD from Seattle University. She also has a BA from Western Oregon University in American Sign Language/English Interpreting. She has been heavily involved in the Deaf and DeafBlind community since she was a small child and she started signing at the age of four. more
Alex Hagel, Associate Alex brings years of experience working with students to his work at Cedar Law PLLC. Alex graduated from the University of Washington School of Law, where he worked in the Children and Youth Advocacy Clinic representing homeless and low-income children in the dependency system. During law school, Alex also interned with the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Civil Rights Division, and with the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights, enforcing civil rights laws that protect students from discrimination. more
Jessica Johanson-Kubin, Associate Jessica practiced municipal law in Eastern Washington before joining Cedar Law PLLC. She graduated with pro bono honors from the University of Washington School of Law, where she worked in the Innocence Project Clinic advocating for wrongfully incarcerated individuals. During law school, Jessica also interned with the U.S. Social Security Administration for two years and the Seattle Community Law Center representing homeless individuals with disabilities. more
Elicia Johnson, Of Counsel Elicia Johnson practiced employment law at Sheppard Mullin LLP in Los Angeles for six years before transitioning to in-house counsel at a major health care company, where she worked for twelve years. She loved her time as a corporate lawyer but ultimately found that big law wasn’t for her. She now seeks to help businesses and individuals on a smaller scale, in her solo law practice on Vashon Island and with her colleagues at Cedar Law. Elicia completed her BA in Communications at UCLA and her JD at Harvard Law School. She is licensed to practice in Washington and California. more
Kaitlin Leifur-Masterson, Paralegal Kaitlin Leifur-Masterson is Cedar Law’s paralegal, and she assists the firm’s attorneys in all areas of litigation. She has been working in the legal field since she moved to Seattle in 2012, after receiving her BA at Boston University. more
Luke Hackenberg, Law Clerk Luke is a rising third-year law student at the Seattle University School of Law, where he is a recipient of the Presidential Law Scholarship. He is passionate about civil rights and social justice issues in education. He joins Cedar Law to take a deep dive into the theory and practice of education law, and to further develop his skills for a career in civil rights advocacy work. more
Nicole Cullen, Sr Legal Assistant / Office Manager Nicole is a recent transplant to Washington, coming from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. She runs the administrative and day-to-day operations of Cedar Law, and brings 14 years of experience working in the legal field. more
Amy Schley, Legal Assistant Amy enjoys taking on new challenges and obtained an Advanced Paralegal Certificate after working over 5 years at an advocacy organization. After acquiring two years’ experience in a non-profit legal department, she made the leap to Cedar Law to continue honing her skills. Amy provides support for Cedar Law’s day-to-day operations. In her free time Amy enjoys drawing and painting, and spending time with her family. more