Digital brain graphic on cover of BarNews April-May 2022

AI Inventors and More in New Issue of Bar News

What does AI (artificial intelligence) think about the prospect of AI? Well, according to an AI text generator, which responded to bits of text from Washington State Bar News Editor Kirsten Abel, our technological future is, at best, ominous:

“In 2015, worldwide spending on AI was $2.2 billion, a staggering sum, but now it’s on the way to $50 billion, predicts IDC (International Data Corporation). Indeed, it’s as if we have already entered an era of omnipresent artificial intelligence. One cannot hope to escape it.”

From a legal standpoint, however, AI will have a hard time getting past patent office red tape on its way to omnipresence. According to Leron Vandsburger’s assessment in the new issue of Bar News, AI systems have reached beyond their rudimentary beginnings “to a creative domain that—if practiced by a human—would be worthy of interpretation, analysis, examination, or critique.” The problem, however, is that copyright laws in many places don’t recognize non-human inventors.

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Finance ledger and calculator

Legal Fee Tax Deduction Gets Easier

Since 2018, it’s been tough to deduct legal fees, and some plaintiffs in contingent fee cases are even taxed on their gross recoveries, not net after legal fees. Creativity is needed in this new age, since sometimes the rules seem to say you shouldn’t be deducting fees at all. Fortunately, the mechanics of deducting legal fees in employment, whistleblower, and civil rights cases have been improved, at long last.

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The Washington Capitol in Olympia

What Happened in the Washington Legislature in 2022: A WSBA Wrap Up

The 60-day 2022 Washington legislative session began on Jan. 10 and adjourned Sine Die (the final adjournment with no day set to reconvene) on March 10. Legislators passed a number of policy measures, as well as a $17 billion transportation package providing funding for new ferries, roadway maintenance, and public transportation improvements and a $64.1 billion supplemental operating budget that funds raises for state workers, rental assistance, and further support of the state’s mental health system.

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Why Legal Professionals Should Embrace a Legal Regulatory Lab

The Washington Supreme Court’s Practice of Law Board recently met with the Washington Supreme Court justices to update justices on the latest version of the Board’s Blueprint for a Legal Regulatory Lab, a new framework for regulating innovative legal services and business models. A legal regulatory lab is not a physical place; rather, it is a process that uses Supreme Court orders to define a set of customized regulations to allow legal professionals and entrepreneurs to safely test new services.

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BarNews March 2022

Volunteering and Professional Growth in the New Issue of Bar News

The fact is that the WSBA could not exist without its thousands of volunteers; at least, not exist in the same way. Without volunteers, an organization like the WSBA could be functional, but shallow; good enough, but never great for its members and the public. As described in the latest edition of Washington State Bar News, WSBA volunteers and their perspectives are needed “to inform the work of the WSBA and affect the direction of the profession.” WSBA Volunteer Engagement Advisor Paris Eriksen explains in the article “24 Ways to Give Back” that “volunteers speak up, criticize, critique, rethink, retool, and ask questions.” Also in this issue, you’ll find the continuation of our “Inside Scoop” column, which crowdsources valuable information for lawyers, whether they’re new to practice, venturing into new areas of law, or simply curious to learn from others’ experiences. In this month’s column, various contributors share their professional tips and tricks when it comes to “Motivation, Mentorship, and Managing Your Time.”

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Documentary crew

5 Must-See Documentaries for Lawyers

For a lawyer, examining people’s lives and solving mysteries are part of the job. And there are many documentaries that highlight these aspects of the profession. Here are my five must-see documentaries to check out today.

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Lady Justice

What You Need to Know About the Latest WSBA Bar Structure Review

The basic question remains the same: Does the structure of an integrated bar association like that in Washington, and 31 other states like it, infringe on its members’ constitutional rights? To provide further clarity in answering that question, for the second time in three years, the structure of the Washington State Bar Association is undergoing a Washington Supreme Court-requested diagnosis.

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The Ups and Downs of Starting Your Own Law Practice

For a lawyer who’s thinking about striking out on their own and starting a firm, there are naturally pros and cons. You gain more autonomy in how you practice, but lose the structure of an established firm. You get to choose how you run your business, but you also take on more risk.

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Feb 2022 Cover of Bar News with Justice Whitener

Black History Month, Bar Structure, and More in the February Bar News

Justice G. Helen Whitener is at the intersection of several identities: a gay woman, someone living with a disability, a first-generation immigrant, and the first Black woman to serve on the Washington Supreme Court. In a wide-ranging interview with Justice Whitener, which is the featured story in the latest issue of the new Washington State Bar News, Hon. Lisa H. Mansfield asked the mentor, educator, and trailblazing judge, “In our society, a combination of all five intersecting identities does not necessarily add up to a life of success and abundance. In your case, it has. What has been your journey to achieving such abundance?”

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LHHC members

Lawyers Continue to Help Feed Children During the Pandemic

In 1991, Lawyers Helping Hungry Children (LHHC) was founded by Seattle attorney Robert Mussehl and a group of dedicated lawyers who sought to end childhood hunger. For the past 22 years, LHHC has helped fund anti-hunger programs and advocated for children. LHHC currenty funds the City of Sumner Food Service Program, the Emergency Feeding Program, and Northwest Harvest, which service those in need of food throughout King County; LHHC also has a chapter in Tacoma. LHHC also funds Care, which provides nutritional food to children across the globe. Care currently works in over 100 countries, reaching close to 10 million children. LHHC remains a group of lawyers committed to ending childhood hunger.

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Multi-colored fractal background

Strange New Trip: The Emerging World of Psychedelic Law and Decriminalization

After substances like LSD (acid), MDMA (ecstasy), and notably psilocybin (magic mushrooms) were classified as federally prohibited Schedule 1 drugs, a new wave of research into their therapeutic potential is growing, state and local governments are decriminalizing their use, and new areas of law are opening up. “Now there’s what’s referred to as a psychedelic renaissance …,” said Kathryn Tucker, special counsel at Emerge Law Group. “It’s just an incredible surge of interest.”

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Capitol in Olympia

Washington’s 2022 Legislative Session and What’s on Calendar at WSBA

The 2022 session of the Washington State Legislature began much like last year’s session—virtually and with a long to-do list! Legislators will consider a variety of issues this year. However, the general focus of the 60-day “short” session is to refine bills passed during the first half of the 2021-2022 biennium. The first day of session was Jan. 10, and it will continue through March 10.

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Diverse professional coworkers fist bumping during seminar or conference

Legal Multitasking: The Advantages of Multiple Section Membership

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 three WSBA sections. Read on to find out why he does it and what he gets out of it.

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Books

Washington Supreme Court Outlines Contours of Confidentiality Rule

The Washington Supreme Court recently addressed the scope of the confidentiality rule RPC 1.6 in In re Cross. Cross had represented a client in a criminal case arising out of an accident involving an all-terrain vehicle the client was driving. When the criminal case resolved, Cross and the client held a confidential discussion about the possibility of pursuing a product liability claim against the ATV manufacturer. Based on Cross’s advice, the client decided not to file a product liability claim. A passenger in the ATV accident later sued Cross’s by-then former client. When the former client’s defense lawyer in the civil case moved to add an affirmative defense attributing the accident to a product defect, the passenger opposed the motion. To support the opposition, the passenger’s lawyer obtained a declaration from Cross in which he disclosed the confidential conversation he had with the former client evaluating the possibility of bringing a product claim and revealing that the former client had decided not to pursue such a claim in light of the costs and risks. A bar grievance followed.

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