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Fall 2004

A L U M N I P R O F I L E S : L AW I N P U B L I C S E RV I C E

MAKING A DIFFERENCE Mary K. Hughes JD’74 has a full plate. She’s an attorney, a radio show host, a campaign chief administrative officer for a U.S. Senator, a Willamette University trustee, a trustee of the University of Alaska Foundation, a regent for the University of Alaska, director of the Providence Alaska Foundation and the Anchorage Economic Development Corporation, and a spouse, mother and grandmother – and she still finds time to workout every morning. studying graduate-level labor economics at HeriotWatt University in Edinburgh, Scotland, and earning her JD at Willamette University College of Law. It was her father, legendary Alaskan attorney John C. Hughes, one of the founders of Hughes Thorsness Powell Huddleston & Bauman, one of the state’s most respected law firms, who chose Willamette for her. “My father had hired several Willamette lawyers and thought they were excellent,” she says. “He knew Willamette would train me well.”

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At Willamette, Hughes had the advantage of studying with professors who are considered the stalwarts of Willamette. She cites Jack Mylan, John Paulus and Henry Bailey as favorites. “The whole experience at Willamette provided maturation and a great educational foundation. Every year I’m out of school, I realize how formative my Willamette years were.”

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hile Hughes’ non-stop schedule would overwhelm most of us, she finds all the activity and involvement invigorating. “It’s exhilarating,” she says, grinning. “There’s not a day that goes by without a crisis. I’m pretty good at crisis management and I can do a lot of tasks simultaneously, so my plate is always full. For me, it’s fun.” The Kodiak, Alaska native prepared for her whirlwind career by getting an undergraduate degree in business management at the University of Alaska in Fairbanks,

The fact that there were only a half dozen women in her class didn’t faze her. “I was raised in a family of three girls and my parents always assumed we could do anything,” she says. “Growing up, we had nurses’ outfits and cowgirl outfits, but we also had firemen and policemen outfits. I never thought I wouldn’t be able to do something because I’m a woman. I always thought I’d have an advantage because I’m me.” After earning her JD and completing a year’s internship at the Multnomah County district attorney’s office, it came as a shock when the Anchorage D.A.’s office wouldn’t hire her because she was a woman. So she went to work at Hughes Thorsness, et al. where she met her mentor, Richard Gantz. “The State of Alaska lost perhaps an effective prosecutor, but my decision to go into private practice at my father’s firm


Willamette Lawyer | Fall 2004 • Vol. IV, No. 2