Columbia Legal Services (CLS) grieves the loss of Sarah Leyrer – a fierce, caring advocate, and our colleague from 2008 to 2015. We send our heartfelt condolences to her family, friends, and colleagues.
She was a passionate lawyer, free spirit, and talented artist. She was wry and quirky – and had an unflinching passion for justice and what was right. As a new attorney at CLS, Sarah helped lead the opening of our Moses Lake office. She was fearless and adaptable in her work in a new place. She quickly established connections with her clients and community.
She had the courage to speak truth to power from employers to legislators. She fought for environmental justice to keep workers safe from pesticides. She fought to ensure workers got paid for the work they had done. She understood that fighting what might seem like a losing battle was better than not fighting at all.
Sarah had an incredible gift of empathy and relatability. She understood that in everything she did, what was really important was the friendships she made along the way. She earned the trust of her clients with her patience and supportive nature. She was able to deeply connect across cultures and languages. She used her gifts as an artist to illustrate information about worker rights that was straightforward and easy to understand. The universal language of art helped her connect with indigenous worker communities like those in Central Washington who speak Mixteco. She also developed a good rapport with opposing counsel, and she was not cowed by their greater experience or how powerful their client might be.
In her short life Sarah showed up for workers. She showed up for indigenous people. She showed up for immigrants. She showed up for her friends. She showed up on social media to patiently and tirelessly explain, even to those that opposed her, what she believed in and why. She showed up to fight for what is just and good.
Sarah worked at the human scale to make change on a much larger scale. We grieve the loss of her indelible spirit.