“We educated, privileged lawyers have a professional and moral duty to represent the underrepresented in our society, to ensure that justice exists for all, both legal and economic justice.”

Sonia Sotomayor

A lawyer questioning a witness in front of the judge in a courtroom.

Federal Court Rules Tardy Disqualification Motion Waived

The federal district court in Seattle recently issued a pointed reminder on disqualification motions: move promptly or risk waiver. Olson Kundig, Inc. v. 12th Avenue Iron, Inc., 2022 WL 14664715 (W.D. Wash. Oct. 25, 2022) (unpublished), involved patent and trademark claims between the plaintiff designer and the defendant manufacturer. The plaintiff’s law firm had done transactional work in the past for the defendant, but that work had concluded, and the defendant was a former client of the law firm.

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Lady Justice

Court of Appeals Discusses Professional Judgment Rule for Legal Malpractice

Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals in Seattle recently discussed the professional judgment rule in Dang v. Floyd, Pflueger & Ringer, PS, Wn. App.2d, 2022 WL 9732289 (Oct. 17, 2022). Under that rule, a lawyer is generally not liable for legal malpractice if the lawyer was simply exercising reasonable professional judgment. The plaintiff doctor in Dang argued that his defense counsel in a regulatory hearing before the Washington Medical Quality Assurance Commission made decisions on witnesses and exhibits that led to an unfavorable outcome. The defendant law firm in the subsequent legal malpractice case moved for summary judgment relying on the professional judgment rule. The trial court granted the motion. The Court of Appeals affirmed.

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Cover of BarNews November 2022

WSBA Goes Rural in the New Bar News

In the latest issue of Washington State Bar News, we try to shed more light on the state of the legal profession in rural Washington. The November issue features a variety of profiles on rural practitioners, focusing on three law practices in Dayton, South Bend, and Colville. And you can learn more about the history of the STAR Committee and hear from past Committee Chair Hunter Abell, along with a primer from attorney Allison R. Foreman on 10 statutes to know and understand when going into rural practice.

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Downtown Colville under blue sky

Coming Back to Colville

Afew minutes after entering the offices of McGrane & Schuerman, PLLC, it occurs to me that Alison McGrane has barely sat down. Even on her first day back at work after a San Diego vacation with her husband, daughter, and son, she was scurrying from one end of the office to another, walking and talking, standing and talking, standing and reading, standing and signing.
Picture the high-velocity energy of a character in an Aaron Sorkin show.
Except that when you compare this image to that of a rural attorney stereotype, things don’t square up. McGrane has been on the receiving end of these stereotypes. Lawyers from big cities are sometimes prone to treating their rural counterparts as less capable in the law, simpler, less complex—in other words, stupid. That type of assumption is, of course, stupid in itself, and despite the extreme ruralness of the place McGrane calls home, she and the rest of the team at McGrane & Schuerman are anything but stupid.

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World's largest oyster in South Bend.

A Family of Lawyers in Oyster Country

It’s a brisk Tuesday morning in South Bend and the big case on the morning docket at Pacific County North District Court is a charge against four defendants for selling shellfish without a label. A few moments before, the state opted to drop charges on another case described as an assault “involving raw eggs.” Throughout the morning there are a few other cases to tie up, like a name change, and quashing warrants, possible probation violations. The Pacific County Courthouse sits atop a hill that offers wide views of the Willapa River, which bleeds into the Willapa Bay and out to the Pacific Ocean where it crashes against the shores of Long Beach, Klipsan, and other parts of south county that folks in South Bend simply refer to as “the beach.”

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Ryan Ortuno and Kim Boggs

Back By Dinner: Finding Work-Life Balance in a Rural Law Firm

If you ignore the weekly migraines, the debt, the stupidly high cost of living, and the fact that he barely saw his family, you could say that Ryan Ortuno had it all. In many ways—at least the ways you learn in law school, Ortuno explained—he had found success. Except the reality—most of his clients were insurance reps and business execs—fell short of the romantic ideal Ortuno had of being a lawyer who helps real people.

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Two farmers in a field, shaking hands with an attorney.

Far-Flung Places: A WSBA Travel Series on Rural Legal Practice

In 2019, a group of WSBA volunteers and staff began what was then called the Rural Practice Project (RRP) to analyze the state of legal services available in rural Washington, as well as other jurisdictions in the country, better understand the problems, and identify potential paths forward that the WSBA could take to address access to justice gaps in Washington’s rural communities. In 2021, upon the RPP group’s recommendation and with a unanimous vote and approved budget from the WSBA Board of Governors, the Small Town and Rural Practice (STAR) Committee was formed to build upon the work of the RPP as a long-term, multi-faceted endeavor of the WSBA.

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Dan Clark on cover of Oct 2022 Bar News

New Year, New Faces in the New Bar News

The WSBA’s year works a little differently than others. While much of the world is still whiling away the final months of 2022, the WSBA is already kicking off its 2023 fiscal year. As always, we ring in the new fiscal year with celebration and welcoming of new faces. In the latest issue of Washington State Bar News, you’ll get a look at the many accomplishments the legal community has already made as well as the plans in store for the future.

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