Legal Multitasking: The Advantages of Multiple Section Membership

Diverse professional coworkers fist bumping during seminar or conference

More than 10,000 WSBA members are also members of the nearly 30 sections spread across the many diverse practice areas of the law. Through sections, these members band together to share knowledge, perfect their skills, and push the boundaries of the legal profession.

Just as no single legal professional is limited to one area of law, a number of WSBA members are actually members of multiple sections. Nicholas Pleasants, for example, is one such lawyer. A solo practitioner and owner of Pleasants Law Firm, he participates in five WSBA sections. Read on to find out why he does it and what he gets out of it.

What areas of law do you practice?

I am primarily an elder law attorney. I handle estates from estate planning to probate or trust administration, guardianship, and estate and trust disputes. I also provide tax advice as it relates to estate and trust planning.

What led you to join multiple sections?

While my practice is focused on Title 11 RCW, it touches on a variety of substantive areas of the law. Each of the sections I joined connect to my practice in different ways. Elder law and RPPT [real property, probate, and trust] are my main focus, but information from the Taxation and Business Law Sections helps me advise business owners planning for retirement. The Solo and Small Practice [SS&P] Section helps me run my solo practice efficiently.

What are the benefits you have found through your various section memberships? If you weren’t involved in those sections, would you be able to access those same resources another way?

I really enjoy participating in the active listservs of the Elder Law, RPPT, and S&SP Sections. I also find the newsletters for the RPPT and Business Sections very informative. The Taxation Section was very supportive when I was studying for my LLM in taxation, and I enjoy ongoing updates from the Estate & Gift Tax Committee. I also have been in a small firm my whole career, and as a solo practitioner now the support and camaraderie of the S&SP listserv, resources, and social events have been tremendously valuable. Without these sections, it would be very difficult to connect with thousands of colleagues across the state and receive timely advice and updates on the law.

How has your section membership translated into service for your clients? Similarly, have you been able to help other legal professionals you work with?

The updates from section listservs, CLEs, and newsletters help me stay up to date on changes in practice and law. In the past year, we have seen an overhaul of the guardianship statutes, a sizeable update to the probate code, as well as introducing electronic wills. I can’t imagine keeping up with all of that without the information that WSBA sections have provided. I have been happy to share my knowledge and experience in the RPPT Newsletter and presenting at the RPPT Annual CLE, as well as participating actively on many listservs. I look forward to contributing more this year as the Elder Law CLE co-chair and as a S&SP Membership co-chair.

How much of a time commitment is there for a member of multiple sections and, in your experience, is the time commitment worth what you get out of it?

You can participate in the sections as little or as much as you like, but I find the time very well spent. When I am not in trial, I enjoy catching up on listserv questions and reading the latest RPPT Newsletter. When I am in trial, sometimes a quick post to the listserv helps me find the caselaw I need for my argument that afternoon. Having access to experts in each of the areas I practice in via the sections is truly invaluable, especially as a solo practitioner. I can’t imagine practicing without it.