Board of Directors
Board Member/LLLT/Owner Clearwater Law
Meet Lori Mendoza, Family Law LLLT (Bilingual-Spanish). Lorena G. Mendoza was born and raised in Eastern Washington. She graduated from Othello High School in 2001. Attending the paralegal program at CBC, then earning a Bachelor of Art’s Degree in Criminal Justice with a minor in Political Science from Washington State University in 2015.
Becoming a certified paralegal through NALA in 2017. Ms. Mendoza’s scope of practice as a paralegal has included over a decade of assisting attorneys with federal and state cases, family law, criminal law, probate, personal injury, estate planning, and general civil litigation at both the trial and appellate level. A limited legal licensed technician, or LLLT, and volunteers with the legal aid society, providing one-on-one help in family law matters. and has over 15 years of legal experience. Lori received the Gene Schuster Award. The late Gene Schuster, who died in 2006, founded the Legal Aid program. The award is given in his name honors volunteers who are earlier in their careers committed to the Pro Bono Service. In Lori’s off time, she enjoys singing, traveling, camping, spending time with her three adoring children, husband and friends, church, and a variety of church activities. She is a volunteer with the Benton Franklin Legal Aid, Domestic Violence Services of Benton and Franklin Counties, the Tri-City Union Gospel Mission, and with the St. Patrick’s Church Choir.
Sr Product Manager
Board Member /Attorney at Law
Rebecca successfully completed the WSBA APR 6 Law Clerk program in 2021. Prior to entering the legal field, Rebecca was a special education advocate and certified school psychologist in Florida, Oregon, and Washington. She completed the COPAA Special Education Advocate Training program and the COPAA Advanced Advocate Training and is currently enrolled in the Special Education Attorney Training course. She is a former Oregon Intervention Systems (OIS) certified instructor. OIS is “Oregon’s system of training and implementing the principles of Positive Behavior Support and Intervention to students” with behavioral and/or cognitive challenges. She graduated with a combined Ed.S/M.S (Counseling in Human Services with a specialization in School Psychology) from The Florida State University. While there, Rebecca was a two-term President of the Counseling and Psychological Services in Education Graduate Student Association. She was also selected by her peers to act as the Intern Representative of her local association. Rebecca later received advanced graduate training in the psychology of performance from Barry University, and successfully completed a Mental Conditioning internship with Evert Tennis Academy. When she is not advocating for her clients, Rebecca enjoys long-distance trail running, coaching youth sports (including a Developmental Volleyball Team), traveling, and spending time with her family.
Board Member/Attorney at Law
Diana Garcia is an attorney at Columbia Legal Services—a non-profit organization that provides free civil legal services to low-income individuals—where she has worked on farm worker employment, housing issues, and children and youth issues. Diana is the vice president of the Benton Franklin Legal Aid Society board. Diana graduated from the University of Washington with B.A. degrees in Political Science and Psychology and received her J.D. from Gonzaga University School of Law.
Honorable Judge Dave Petersen
Benton Franklin Superior Court Judge
Judge Petersen was born in 1969 and raised in Kennewick, Washington. After graduating from Kamiakin High School, he served in the U.S. Army for two years, stationed in South Korea. Judge Petersen continued his service in the Army National Guard for six more years while attending college and law school. Judge Petersen attended Columbia Basin College and graduated with a B.A. degree in Business Administration from the University of Washington. He completed law school at Thurgood Marshall School of Law in Houston, Texas. Upon passing the Washington State Bar exam in 1997, he returned to the Tri-Cities to serve as a deputy prosecutor for Franklin County. After leaving the prosecutor’s office, Judge Petersen was a partner in two local law firms, as well as the owner of his own law firm. He served as judge for Pasco Municipal Court from 2011 to 2017. Judge Petersen was elected to the Benton Franklin County Superior Court in 2020 and was sworn-in on January 11, 2021. Judge Petersen has been actively involved in his community since returning to the area in 1997. Most meaningful for him has been his service on the Benton Franklin Legal Aid Board of Directors, coaching the Mock Trial team at Tri-Cities Prep High School, and actively participating in his church. Judge Petersen and his wife, Dena, have enjoyed living in and raising their three kids in the Tri-Cities area. They have been very active in youth sports over the years and enjoy spending time outdoors, waterskiing, hiking, camping, fishing and shooting.