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 Oct. 25, 2022) (unpublished), involved patent and trademark claims between the plaintiff designer and the defendant manufacturer.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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Shot of a young male lawyer standing by his desk in the office

Should I Open My Own Law Firm?

How do you know if going independent and starting a law firm business is the right choice for you? In this article, I’ll give you some of the tools you need to determine whether it’s time to ditch a traditional office role and strike out on your own.

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2022 APEX banner with red curtains

A Night to Celebrate: Watch The 2022 WSBA APEX Awards

On Sept. 22, the WSBA invited legal professionals, friends, family, and the public to once again celebrate legal luminaries from around the state of Washington. The 2022 APEX — Acknowledging Professional Excellence — Awards were held virtually, presenting awards and accolades across 12 categories and recognizing the contributions WSBA members have made toward access to justice, pro bono service, innovation in the law, and much more.

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Who We Are movie poster

WSBA at the Movies: Who We Are

In the documentary “Who We Are: A Chronicle of Racism in America”, Jeffery Robinson takes his audience on a time-traveling journey from slavery to post-reconstruction and from the Civil Rights movement of the mid-century to the Black Lives Matter movement of today. The film, which is streaming on Netflix, follows a narrative thread laid out in Robinson’s 2018 talk to a live audience at the New York Town Hall theater. It intersperses footage of that talk with interviews between Robinson and figures who have emerged from modern struggles of racial equity; figures like Darren Martin, who was suspected of burglary while moving into his New York apartment; Tiffany Crutcher, whose brother, Terence, was killed by Oklahoma police despite being unarmed with his hands in the air; and Viola Fletcher, the last known survivor of the Tulsa Massacre.

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Cherry blossoms near people at the University of Washington

Meet the Law School Representatives of 2023

Consider that a student who expects to graduate law school this year will have spent most of their education amid a global pandemic. Their legal academia would have taken place during historic global protests, a historic attack on the U.S. Capitol building, and the reversal of massively controversial legal precedent. In all, law students today are looking at a world full of inflation and, arguably, some of the greatest challenges for our legal system in modern history. Each year, the Washington State Bar Association partners with our state’s three law schools and selects a law student representative from each. These student representatives both serve as liaisons who communicate issues facing students to the WSBA, and who share WSBA resources with their fellow students.

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Abstract Technology Banner

How Legal Name Changes Affect the Patent Application Process

There are many reasons why an inventor might undergo a legal name change, whether as part of a marriage or divorce, as part of a gender transition, or out of a desire for a name that better reflects the inventor’s sense of self. Even though name changes are handed through state-level legal procedures, the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) has specific rules about using legal names that can result in costly delays or even an abandoned or invalidated patent if not followed. With the patent application process often taking several years, consistency of inventor naming and compliance with state-level rules about legal names is important to avoid issues down the road.

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Green ethical business preserving resources, reducing CO2, caring for employees.

ESG and Law Firms Part 2: Understanding Emissions and Where to Start

In the first part of this series, we explored Environmental Social, and Governance (ESG)—what ESG is and the basics of what lawyers and law firms need to know about ESG. After reading part 1, you may be thinking: How will ESG impact my practice and my firm? We will answer that question here by exploring one of the ways that ESG may impact your law firm operations: client requests for ESG metrics and, specifically, greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions.

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