The Washington Capitol in Olympia

Washington’s 2023 Legislative Session: What’s in Store at the WSBA

The 2023 session of the Washington State Legislature began with lawmakers returning to Olympia for the first in-person session in two years. Legislators will consider a variety of issues this year. However, a primary focus of the 120-day “long” session is to pass a state budget for the next two years. The first day of session was Jan. 9 and it will continue through April 23. Between now and then the Senate and House of Representatives have important dates ahead of them.

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Dueling lightsabers in space environment

A Star Wars Exploration of the Law of Armed Conflict—Part I

With dozens of large-scale armed conflicts going on in the world, in Ukraine and elsewhere, a prospective client is bound to walk through your door one day, accused of war crimes. Well, the chances are at least higher if you practice this area of law. Should you receive such a client, this article will prepare you for your first war crimes case by exploring the violations of the law of armed conflict (LOAC) committed by everyone’s favorite war criminal, Darth Vader.

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Federal Court Disqualifies Law Firm for Conflict with Key Witness

The federal district court in Spokane recently disqualified a law firm for a conflict with a key adverse witness. Caldwell v. United States, 2022 WL 17408818 (E.D. Wash. Nov. 9, 2022) (unpublished), was a malpractice case stemming from the plaintiff’s treatment at a government medical facility. Although the U.S. government was the sole defendant, the focus of the case was on the doctor who allegedly failed to diagnose the plaintiff’s cancer. The plaintiff’s law firm had also represented the doctor in an unrelated employment matter.

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Illustration of male and female attorneys shaking hands from computer monitors

Top 10 NWSidebar Blog Posts of 2022

Roe v. Wade is out. Oklahoma v. Castro-Huerta is in. The challenges of attracting new lawyers to Washington’s rural communities. Court decisions that clarify the Rules of Professional Conduct. A lot has happened in the past year. Surprisingly and thankfully, much of the news had nothing to do with the COVID pandemic. As has become tradition at NWSidebar, we looked back at the blogs of 2022 to see which stories resonated most with our readers. Read on to see the most-read articles of 2022.

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BarNews-DEC-JAN2023

The Clash at Midfield and More in Latest Issue of Bar News

In the case of Kennedy v. Bremerton School District, the U.S. Supreme Court was presented with a First Amendment controversy after a high school football coach began praying on the sidelines. When asked to decide whether such actions were protected speech or an unsanctioned blending of religious activities and public institutions, a 6-3 majority found that the coach’s First Amendment rights had been suppressed and reversed the lower court’s decision.

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Digital icon of the balance of justice. Concept of legal advice, law and defense.

How Amazon Went Global with Pro Bono

Amazon recently released its first ever Pro Bono Report, which describes some of the pro bono work provided by more than 700 Amazon lawyers and legal professionals across dozens of countries since the program’s formal launch in 2014. In total, Amazon lawyers and legal professionals have provided over 40,000 hours of service through Amazon’s pro bono program in that time. Amazon Associate General Counsels Sean Croman and James Cuneo answered a few of our questions about how Amazon’s pro bono program was created, how it creates meaningful opportunities for Amazon employees around the world to engage in pro bono service, and how other corporate legal departments might replicate their efforts.

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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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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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