Alumni Spotlight: Judge Dee Sonntag shares insights at UW Tacoma Speaker Series

Judge Dee Sonntag shared profound insights into her journey from UW Tacoma graduate to esteemed judicial officer. 

In a recent installment of the University of Washington Tacoma’s Alumni Speaker Series, Judge Dee Sonntag, an alumna and current Tacoma Municipal Court Judge, took the stage to share her experiences, insights and commitment to therapeutic justice. 

The event, attended by students, faculty and community members alike, focused on Judge Sonntag’s journey from her undergraduate years at UW Tacoma to her pivotal role as a judge. The evening started with a warm welcome from the Assistant Director of Alumni Relations, Chana Lawson, setting the stage for an engaging session. 

Addressing the audience, Judge Sonntag expressed her gratitude.   

“I love the University of Washington Tacoma,” said Judge Sonntag. “I really love my school family, and I’m honored to be back in this capacity.”  

She reflected on the lifelong friendships and mentorships that began during her time at UW Tacoma, emphasizing the profound impact the university had on her career. 

The conversation, skillfully navigated by senior student Andrew McKee, covered a range of topics, including Judge Sonntag’s role as a sitting judge for Tacoma Municipal Court. She highlighted the significance of the therapeutic work program, her dedication to community building, and the unique challenges she faces. 

Community Court is a therapeutic program designed to address the unmet needs that lead to court involvement. Each participant creates their own goals to connect with community resources and treatment programs that can help them live healthy and independent lives. 

“I take my elected status very seriously, and I’m so grateful to the voters of Tacoma,” said Judge Sonntag. “I just continue to learn and to grow and to really develop our therapeutic programs.”  

Her commitment to building a model that prioritizes therapeutic justice was a central theme of the evening. 

A notable moment came when Judge Sonntag addressed the loneliness that comes with being a judge.  

She said, “It’s lonely. I have always had incredible colleagues and good friends, and I believe in collaborative lawyering. Having an office to myself for the first time in my life—it is lonely. But it’s worth the loneliness.” 

The Q&A session allowed the audience to engage directly with Judge Sonntag, touching on topics like working with juvenile court, maintaining a work-life balance and advice for students considering law school. 

The event closed with Judge Sonntag extending an invitation to visit her courtroom, fostering a sense of openness and connection between the legal community and the public. 

The Alumni Speaker Series featuring Judge Dee Sonntag not only provided valuable insights into the legal profession but also showcased the university’s commitment to bringing accomplished alumni back to inspire and share their wisdom with the next generation.