The Federal Government’s Focus on Debt Collection Post-COVID

When the pandemic began early last year, the government extended aid to families and businesses everywhere. Funding was provided, payments were deferred, and many people were temporarily spared from facing eviction. Now that the workforce is beginning to restabilize, creditors and other institutions that are owed a balance from individuals are pushing harder for repayment. In many places rent moratoriums have expired, allowing landlords the right to evict for nonpayment. Many people are being forced to prioritize payments to bring down either their consumer debt or medical debt, and it is not uncommon for them to prioritize their mortgage or rent payments over a credit card bill.

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a man with a personal injury finally gets some legal representation

Pandemic Pro Bono: Washington Lawyers Recognized Nationally For Pro Bono Contributions

Michael Terasaki started his new role in what he calls “Zoom land.” For Terasaki and others who coordinate pro bono and low bono legal services in Washington, the new normal amid the undulating cycles of pandemic chaos has been a stew of new opportunities and new limitations, rising needs for legal aid and limited resources to meet it. It’s not necessarily the case that volunteerism has fallen dramatically—its dipped slightly, he said—but the pandemic clobbered the available legal aid with a sudden and dramatic increase in clients.

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Federal Court Enforces Arbitration Provision in Engagement Agreement

The federal district court in Seattle recently enforced an arbitration provision in a lawyer’s engagement agreement in Dodo International, Inc. v. Parker, No. C20-1116-JCC, 2021 WL 4060402 (W.D. Wash. Sept. 7, 2021) (unpublished). The lawyer had represented some of the plaintiffs in a series of business transactions that the court described as “ill-fated.” Litigation followed against both the lawyer and the counterparties.

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US Supreme Court building

Washington Forms New National Chapter of the FBA

For the first time, the state of Washington has its own chapter within the Federal Bar Association (FBA). Washington’s new FBA chapter was initiated by Susan D. Pitchford and Diane Butler. Pitchford previously served as president of the FBA Oregon State Chapter, and Butler has experience with such nonprofit organizations as the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Trade Development Alliance of Greater Seattle, and the FBA.

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Cute pit bull dog

The Pitfalls of the Pit Bull Comparison

I adore pit bulls. With small exception, they are energetic, resourceful, agile, and loyal. They are an opposable thumb and bark translator away from making great attorneys. So why do I cringe when I am compared to one? The answer is not complicated. I cringe because I am a woman and because pit bulls are, well, dogs.

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Female lawyer smiling at camera during meeting

Building a Culture of Gender Equity: Insights from a Majority-Women-Owned Firm

I am the managing shareholder of a 50+ attorney business law firm with 29 equity partners: 16 women and 13 men. Stokes Lawrence was founded 40 years ago by two men. While we did not consciously seek to be majority women owned, we have always attracted and been successful retaining women lawyers. In fact, our firm was recently admitted to the National Association of Women and Minority Owned Law Firms

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An empty courtroom

Federal Court Looks to Choice-of-Law Provision in Legal Malpractice Case

The federal district court in Seattle recently looked to a choice-of-law provision in an engagement agreement in denying summary judgment on the statute of limitations in a legal malpractice case. U.S. Bank, N.A. v. The Glogowski Law Firm, 2021 WL 3375942 (W.D. Wash. Aug. 3, 2021) (unpublished), involved legal malpractice claims by the plaintiff bank against the defendant law firm for work in Washington and Oregon. A choice-of-law provision in the engagement agreement involved, however, designated Minnesota law as controlling because the bank is headquartered there.

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Cherry blossoms near people at the University of Washington

Meet the 2021-2022 Law Student Representatives

Each year, the WSBA partners with Washington’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. Read on to meet the 2021-2022 law school representatives.

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Digital law and justice graphic with document, gavel, and scale icons

Washington Delays Statewide E-Filing for Courts of Limited Jurisdiction

The Administrative Office of the Courts (AOC) announced on June 25 that it was delaying the e-filing component of its Courts of Limited Jurisdiction Case Management System (CLJ-CMS) project—also known as Odyssey File & Serve (OFS). Citing concerns raised by the legal community, “Upon careful and lengthy consideration of the comments received, and several productive discussions held with leaders in the District and Municipal Court Judges Association and the District and Municipal Court Managers Association, the Project Steering Committee has decided to delay implementation of OFS while we sort through the various issues and consider other options.”

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Coronavirus vaccination record card

Can Employers Require COVID Vaccines and Other Common Questions About Vaccinations at Work

As variants of COVID-19 surge, public health guidance fluctuates, and controversies continue to erupt over vaccinations and masks, businesses across the country grapple with whether, when, and how to return to work. Naturally, employers and employees have questions as they slowly move into a new normal. Among my clients, what follows are some of the most common questions related to COVID-19 and returning to work.

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Cybersecurity graphic

Quick Steps for Lawyers to Improve Cybersecurity and Protect Client Data

In 2017, hundreds of thousands of computers in 150 countries in a matter of hours were infected with a virus, locking the computers and demanding a ransom to regain access in the now famous WannaCry ransomware attack. How were all these computers infected? Well, remember that security patch update? The commonality between all of the hacked computers is that they failed to upgrade their security patches.

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Mutual Aid and the Law: The Rise and Necessity of Mutual Aid in Immigrant Communities

The concept of “mutual aid” is new to many, but the concept itself is arguably as old as human society. Amid the devastating consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic and the civil uprisings against racial injustice that spread throughout the U.S. and world last summer, communal support systems have arisen to fill in where other systems have failed. Far more than a buzzword, mutual aid is part of a fundamental shift in the thinking behind structures like social services, nonprofit charities, and even the justice system.

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What You Need to Know About the Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act

Earlier this year, the Washington Legislature adopted, and Gov. Jay Inslee signed into law, an all-new Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act (the “New Act”). The New Act, which will take effect Jan. 1, 2022, is a total replacement for the current Washington Nonprofit Corporation Act, Chapter 24.03 RCW. Washington lawyers who represent nonprofits will likely want […]

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How Policing in Washington is Changing After the 2021 Legislative Session

What is needed for police reform? Last summer, in the wake of George Floyd’s murder, tens of thousands of protesters rallied in cities throughout America to highlight the urgent need to address that question. Here in Washington, officers kill more 35 people each year on average, although this is a low estimate as it only tracks shootings and not other modes of police killing. Two years ago, voters passed Initiative 940, which set new standards for use of deadly force and established requirements for law enforcement to receive de-escalation, mental health, and first-aid training. Yet, officers have killed more than 100 people in Washington since the initiative went into effect.

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A Few Things Everyone Should Know About the WA Cares Fund

Washington is the first state in the nation to create a trust to fund long-term care costs for its residents, which will be funded through a mandatory payroll tax of .0058 percent. Effective Jan. 1, 2022, all W2 employees will be taxed $0.58 per $100 of income, with no cap on wages. Self-employed earners can opt-in to the program when the state makes applications available in January 2022.

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Enjoy a Summer of Reading With Bar News

Unlike last summer, this year you can do actual things. If you want, you can even go to a beach. While you’re there, building up stockpiles of Vitamin D to get you through the coming winter, there are few ways better to laze away a few warm, sunny hours than sticking your nose in a good book. Although this summer is very (fortunately) different from last year, at least one thing remains (also fortunately) consistent: the Washington State Bar News annual summer reading list. In the latest issue, check out the top picks for books as recommended by members, and even a few titles written by members.

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