A host family with a teenage girl

A Teen’s Viewpoint on Host Homes as an Option to Provide Housing

KV, a lanky 15-year-old boy, appeared in the doorframe of YouthCare shelter’s meeting room. He saw a jar of candies and methodically picked through to find the “good” ones. KV then sat down, surrounded by a group of YouthCare shelter staff and a youth law attorney. KV is not yet eligible for Transitional Living Program (TLP), which is available to youth when they reach age 16, and he doesn’t want to be “shelter hopping.” 
“A host home sounds like a decent option for me and anyone else like me,” he said. 
Youth who lack stable housing and cannot return home to their families have few options. Minors seeking to temporarily or permanently secure safe and stable housing can file for a Child in Need of Services (CHINS), a minor guardianship, or private dependency petition. Yet those ways mean they must experience the adversarial legal process of court, talk to a judge, disclose private aspects of their life (including traumas they will have to relive), and miss school. They often still have an emotional relationship with their parents and caregivers, which gets poked and prodded during court hearings.

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Hispanic female attorney (50s) advising senior Hispanic woman (70s).

Building Collectivistic Cultural Relevance, Competency for Estate Planning

Providing estate planning and end-of-life services to an ailing parent generation, within a culture that does not have tools in place to easily do so, is going to require new strategies and forward thinking about cultural relevance and cultural competency. 
The issue is vast and complex, so I believe a good place to begin is with the hesitancy of many people to move forward with formal estate planning. This is especially true among those who are first-generation immigrants from a collectivistic culture, thereby leading to higher risk that their wishes will not be properly expressed during the end-of-life process. 

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Cover of September 2023 Bar News

The Art of Appreciation in the New Issue of Bar News 

WSBA President Daniel D. Clark set pen to paper for the last time to write the final President’s Corner column of his time in the role. In that column, which appears in the latest issue of Washington State Bar News, Clark wrote, “this is my last opportunity to encourage each of you to volunteer at the WSBA—YOUR Bar Association—to get involved in pro bono legal services, to serve on the Board of Governors, and to vote in WSBA elections. It’s my hope that I have encouraged at least some of you to consider volunteering at the WSBA. For those of you I haven’t reached, it’s not too late, and I encourage you to consider getting involved in the future.” 

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Hipster attorney riding a skateboard in office.

From Burnout to Balance: 4 Key Considerations for a Lateral Move

Career is a vital part of our lives, and our day-to-day actions at work have resounding consequences on our personal and professional relationships, as well as on our mental and physical health. The prospect of shifting to a new path, even if it’s a lateral shift, can be both overwhelming and, at times, discouraging to navigate the complex decision-making process. 
What I mean by “lateral shift” is a job transition involving a change in responsibilities or position, but maintaining a relatively similar level of seniority, compensation, or status. Typically, lateral moves do not entail a significant promotion or increase in pay. Contrary to a vertical move, which involves upward career progression, a lateral move focuses on acquiring new skills, broadening one’s experience, or seeking a better fit for one’s interests and strengths without necessarily climbing the corporate ladder.

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A summer day in front of the US Supreme Court Building in Washington, DC.

Federal Court Disqualifies In-House Counsel

The federal district court in Seattle recently issued a rare decision disqualifying in-house counsel from participating in a case that involved the lawyer’s corporate employer. Docklight Brands, Inc. v. Tilray, Inc. and High Park Holdings, Ltd., 2023 WL 5279309 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 16, 2023), is a dispute over a licensing agreement. The litigants were formerly related affiliates within the same overall corporate group before a restructuring split the plaintiff from the defendants. Although separated, they later entered into the licensing agreement that became the focal point of the litigation.

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Suspect arrested, police officer finds drugs during the search.

The Blake Refund Program and Washington’s 39 Flavors of Rabbit Hole

“Welcome to my rabbit hole, Colin,” Ali Hohman said, “where dreams go to die.” Hohman is mostly joking—mostly. She’s the director of legal services for the Washington Defender Association (WDA), where much of her recent work has been focused on issues arising from the Washington Supreme Court’s earth-shattering decision in State v. Blake. In 2021, a court majority ruled that Washington’s strict liability drug possession statute is unconstitutional. That ruling was like dropping a thermonuclear bomb on almost a half-century of felony drug policy. It immediately prompted hurried statements from law enforcement agencies, a stop-gap measure by the Legislature in 2021, and a renewed legislative correction earlier this year that required a special session to finalize.

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Warhol soup can parody from Wikimedia Commons

Warhol Foundation Doesn’t Benefit From ‘Plagiarist Privilege’

Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts, Inc. V. Goldsmith concerns whether the Andy Warhol Foundation (AWF) infringed the copyright held by Lynn Goldsmith in her photograph of the artist Prince, when it licensed Warhol’s version (“Orange Prince”) of Goldsmith’s photograph to the media company Condé Nast for a magazine cover. At issue was whether the fair use defense applies to appropriation. Rather than broadly refashion the law, the Court issued a narrowing interpretation of the first fair use factor, in the form of a new judicial test.

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A gavel on gray background, retro toned

Federal Court Finds No Private Right of Action for Unauthorized Practice

The federal district court in Tacoma recently ruled that there is no private right of action for the unauthorized practice of law under RCW 2.48.180. Wise v. Eskow, 2023 WL 3456815 (W.D. Wash. May 15, 2023) (unpublished), involved a variety of claims by a Washington dentist against a Massachusetts lawyer flowing from the dentist’s purchase of a practice in Longview. The dentist claimed that the lawyer’s work on the transaction was deficient. In addition to a negligence-based legal malpractice claim, the dentist also brought a claim for unauthorized practice under RCW 2.48.180 because the lawyer was not licensed in Washington and had not associated Washington counsel to assist.

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Cover of June 2023 Bar News

The 2023 Legislative Session, Involuntary Treatment Act, and More in the New Bar News

The 2023 Washington legislative session was a veritable who’s who list of divisive political issues. Affordable housing, assault weapons, drug possession, the death penalty—all were on the docket this year in Olympia. Indeed, over the 105-day session, followed by a brief special session, the WSBA Legislative Affairs Team tracked roughly 500 bills.
In addition to a brief glimpse at the hundreds of bills the Legislative Affairs Team tracked for WSBA sections, Walvekar also provides an overview of the WSBA’s Bar-request legislation, a look at the special session to address statewide drug possession law, and some of the expected issues to watch when the Legislature reconvenes in January 2024.
The June issue of Bar News also explores a bevy of Washington laws, policies, and organizations of relevance to the state’s legal profession.

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Capitol in Olympia

What Happened in the 2023 Washington Legislative Session

The 105-day 2023 legislative session began on Jan. 9 and adjourned sine die on April 23. Legislators passed a two-year, $69.2 billion state operating budget providing funding increases for K-12 schools, with an emphasis on special education and programs to support affordable housing, as well as a $13.5 billion biennial transportation budget that supports improvements to the Washington State Ferry System, increases bicycle and pedestrian access to schools, and funds major highway construction projects statewide.

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Lawyer jumping

The Benefits of Jumping

Hollywood is replete with stereotypes: Scientists are nerds, hackers spend their free time at raves, white men can’t jump. In the legal industry, we have a similar stereotype that established lawyers can’t jump … into a new area of law.
A tax lawyer, as the theory goes, must remain a tax lawyer for 35-plus years. A divorce lawyer, same thing. The idea being that after 10 years or so, we are stuck to our familiar, well-trodden practice areas. Something about our profession seems to create this sense that we’ll ruin everything we’ve worked so hard to build if we try something new. So the tax lawyer may indeed wish to switch to admiralty law, but doesn’t. It could be that their kids are in an expensive private school or the high monthly law school loan obligation that holds them back from making a needed change. The list of reasons why things can’t change is long, and it’s full of reasons beyond money.
Once you know something well, who wants to throw away all that knowledge? Plus, there’s the fear of losing referral sources. What of the established client base? Lawyers can spin up plenty of reasons to support the idea that, indeed, lawyers can’t jump.

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Cocaine closeup

WA Legislature Special Session: A History of Drug Possession Law Following State v. Blake

In the evening of sine die of the 2023 session, April 23, the “Blake Bill”—the E2SSB 5536 conference committee proposal for replacing the expiring criminal provisions of ESB 5476 (2021)—was brought to the floor of the House and failed, an unexpected result. Much media attention has been paid to the apparent political snafu, but less attention has been paid to the history, evidence, policy options, and principles that underlay the votes taken that evening.

Gov. Jay Inslee has announced his intent to convene a special session to address this legislation, beginning May 16. Washington’s legal community has an immediate opportunity to express individual opinions to Washington’s elected decision makers about whether, and to what extent, use of criminal sanctions against people solely for drug use is consistent with the values and vision of Washington’s and the United States’ promises of justice for all.

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Lawyers standing and chatting, seen through rippled glass.

Court of Appeals Rules on Law Firm Trade Secrets Claim

Over the past generation, lawyers have increasingly moved from firm to firm in private practice. Most moves occur with relatively little drama and, when there are issues over points like notice to clients, WSBA Advisory Opinion 201801 (2018) and ABA Formal Opinion 99-414 (1999) offer practical guidance to law firms and departing lawyers on their obligations under the professional rules.
The Washington Court of Appeals, however, recently issued a relatively rare decision involving a trade secrets claim by a law firm against a departing lawyer. Hudson v. Ardent Law Group, PLLC, 2023 WL 2859334 (Wn. App. Apr. 10, 2023) (unpublished), involved a law firm that had a very focused practice representing clients in real estate timeshare disputes. The firm had developed tailored forms and collected a large amount of electronic data for use in handling client work. While still employed by the firm, a lawyer secretly copied the firm’s entire client database. The lawyer then left the firm to start a competitor and used the information in an effort to recruit the firm’s clients.

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