Our Team

Cedar Law’s experienced school law attorneys have diverse backgrounds and specializations but share a passion for equity, diversity, and education. Read more about our education attorneys below.


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, Founding 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

 

 


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.

 


Elicia Johnson, Partner 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


Angela Shapow, Of CounselAngela Shapow 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, Senior 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, Senior 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

 

 

 



Luke Hackenberg, Associate
Luke graduated cum laude from the Seattle University School of Law in 2021.  He joined Cedar Law immediately out of law school after working for the firm for three years when he was a law student.  During his time in law school, he also worked for the Housing Justice Project, assisting low-income clients facing eviction.  Prior to law school, Luke earned his bachelor’s degree in Economics from Reed College.  more

 


Kaitlin Leifur-Masterson, Senior 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

 

 

 


Nicole CullenNicole Cullen, Sr Legal Assistant / Office Manager  Nicole runs the administrative and day-to-day operations of Cedar Law, bringing 16 years experience in the legal field. In her downtime, she enjoys playing softball, watching ice hockey, trivia nights, and exploring/photographing the beautiful sights of the Pacific Northwest.

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Amy Schley, Paralegal / 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


Rebecca Marcy, Controller  Rebecca has spent the last 15 years helping small businesses prosper by providing bookkeeping, HR, and office administration services. She graduated from Everett Community College with an Accounting Degree.  She handles the firm’s accounting needs. In her downtime, she enjoys swimming, camping, and traveling. more