Saint Martin’s Harvie Social Justice Lecture To Explore Mounting Financial Crisis Faced By Working Families



Submitted by Saint Martin’s University

LACEY, Wash. – Olympia attorney Bruce Neas will share his thoughts on “Debt and Inequality: How Working Families are being Slowly Strangled” as the next guest lecturer for the Saint Martin’s University Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series Friday, April 12. Neas will make his presentation from 4 p.m. to 5 p.m. in Harned Hall 110, located on the Saint Martin’s Lacey campus, 5000 Abbey Way SE. The event is free and open to the public.

“The country has been ravaged by a combination of careless financial products, along with a lack of federal and state regulation. The financial industries have used their products to provide profits that have no real benefits to consumers or communities,” Neas says, in explaining the focus of his lecture. “Additionally, the amount of equity that has been stripped from homeowners over the last 10 years will never be recovered.”

“I also want to examine the disproportionate impact of these situations on communities of color and the impact of payday lending, student loans, debit cards and other, similar products on working families. This debt is strangling the working class.”

“The entire income inequality debate and issue is something I am very interested in,” Neas adds. “It really has been the scope of my work and the consequences are enormous for the future of our country.”

Neas is a lawyer with Columbia Legal Services (CLS) and has been a legal services attorney since his graduation in 1980 from the University of Missouri – Kansas City, School of Law. He specializes in policy issues concerning consumer rights, homeownership and foreclosure relief, landlord-tenant relations, domestic violence and low-wage earners.

A founding board member of the Thurston County Volunteer Legal Services and Cowlitz Wahkiakum Legal Aid programs, Neas was involved in the drafting and negotiation of landmark legislation such as the Foreclosure Fairness Act, the Manufactured Housing Dispute Resolution Program, the Wage Payment Act, the Domestic Violence Leave Act and the Tenant Relocation Act. He has served as legislative coordinator and project manager for the CLS Institute for Foreclosure Legal Assistant grant, which provides legal representation to homeowners on the verge of foreclosure.

Neas received the 2012 Norm Maleng Leadership Award in recognition of his decades of service to the legal aid community. He is a past president of the Thurston County Bar Association and the 2005 recipient of the TCBA’s Daniel Bigelow “Lawyer of the Year” award.

The Robert A. Harvie Social Justice Lecture Series, now in its eighth year, was created by Saint Martin’s University Associate Professor of Criminal Justice Robert Hauhart, Ph.D., J.D., chair of the University’s Department of Society and Social Justice, to raise awareness of social justice issues within the community and to honor the work of Robert A. Harvie, J.D., former professor and chair of the Department of Criminal Justice at Saint Martin’s.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, coeducational university located on a wooded campus of more than 300 acres in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 14 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 23 majors and seven graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education, nursing and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes more than 1,100 undergraduate students and 400 graduate students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its Lacey campus, and 300 more undergraduate students to its extension campuses located at Joint Base Lewis-McChord and Centralia College. Visit the Saint Martin’s University website at

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