Karen K. Koehler

If thou faint in the day of adversity, thy strength is small. ~Proverbs 24:10

Nicknamed "The Velvet Hammer™" by some of her adversaries, Karen is known for her creativity, tenacity and trial skills. Few plaintiff attorneys try more cases than Karen. Success in the courtroom means that Karen enjoys a strong reputation with insurance companies and corporate defendants who would rather opt to value cases properly for settlement instead of risk going to trial against her. She is listed as a Top 10 Super Lawyer in Washington State, only the second woman in the state recognized as such.

A mother of three school-age daughters, she has a particular place in her heart for representing families who have lost loved ones due to intentional or negligent acts. Among those cases is Kime v. City of Seattle, a wrongful death settlement for Kristopher Kime's family that found the city responsible for enhancing the danger of the 2001 Seattle Mardi Gras. She has been honored to represent many people and families who have needed help in holding others accountable for preventable harmful acts. And she has been privileged to see laws changed because of the stories of clients whom she has represented.

Karen is a prolific speaker and writer, an author of nationally published legal treatises and an adjunct professor at the University of Washington School of Law.

She has also gained national and local recognition from many, including the American Bar Association for maintaining a Top 100 "Blawg." Since 2011, Karen's blog has beenlisted as the top Trial Practice/Litigation Blawg by ABA. Check out a Super Lawyers interview of Karen about her Velvet Hammer™ blog. Like her work as a top personal injury attorney, her extraordinary blog has captured the attention of many. Read a recent profile on Karen featured in the local Bar Bulletin.

In addition to serving as President of the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association (2007-08), she has held leadership positions in the American Association of Justice. A member of the America Board of Trial Advocates, she is listed in The Best Lawyers in America, regularly listed as a Super Lawyer and a top 40 personal injury lawyer by Washington Law & Politics Magazine.

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  • Seattle University, J.D., 1985
  • University of Washington, B.A., 1982

Outside the Office

Karen loves to snow ski and rollerblade, and she runs every day.

Contact Karen

karenk@stritmatter.com or (206) 448-1777

Awards & Achievements

  • Top Trial Practice Blawg, American Bar Association, 2011, 2012
  • Trial Lawyer of the Year, Washington State Trial Lawyers Association*, 2005
  • President's Award, Washington State Trial Lawyers Association*, 2003
  • The Best Lawyers in America - 2006 - Present
  • Super Lawyer - Washington Law & Politics Magazine, present
  • Top 40 Personal Injury Super Lawyer - Washington Law & Politics Magazine, present
  • Top 50 Female Super Lawyer - Washington Law & Politics Magazine, present
  • Top 100 Super Lawyer - Washington Law & Politics Magazine, present
  • Top 500 Lawyers in America - Law Dragon Magazine, 2007
  • Rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell
  • American Board of Trial Advocates, 2006 - present


Spinal Cord Injury Association of WA (SCIAW)

  • Executive Director and President 2010 to present

Washington Association for Justice (formerly Washington State Trial Lawyers Association)

  • President 2007-2008
  • President Elect 2006-2007
  • Board of Governors 8th District Representative 1999-2000
  • Vice President Membership 2000-2001
  • Vice President Continuing Legal Education 2001-2002
  • Vice President Public Affairs 2002-2003
  • Vice President Development 2003-2004
  • 2nd Vice President Legislative 2004-2005
  • Vice President Legislative 2005-2006
  • Vice Chair Insurance Section 2000-2001
  • Chair Insurance Section 2001-2002
  • Chair Law School Advocacy Committee 1999-2006
  • Member Legislative Steering Committee 2000-present
  • Member Diversity Committee 2000-present
  • Member Technology Committee 2000-2002
  • Member Executive Committee 2002-present
  • Member CLE Committee 2001-2011

American Association of Justice

  • Chair Motor Vehicle, Highway, and Premises Section 2003-2004
  • Chair elect Motor Vehicle, Highway, and Premises Section 2002-2003
  • Vice-chair Motor Vehicle, Highway, and Premises Section 2001-2002
  • Washington State Delegate Minority Affairs 2001-present
  • Washington State Delegate 2008
  • Member Insurance, Motor Vehicle, Civil Rights Sections
  • Member Insurance Bad Faith Litigation Group
  • AAJ Board Member
  • Co-chair AAJ Spinal Cord Injury Litigation Group
  • Executive Committee member – AAJ Traumatic Brain Injury Litigation Group

Washington State Bar Association

  • Chair Executive Litigation Committee 2008-2009
  • Vice Chair Executive Litigation Committee 2007- 2008
  • Secretary/Treasurer Executive Litigation Committee 2005 - 2007
  • Member Executive Litigation Committee 2002-2005
  • Member Consumer Protection Committee 2001-present
  • Member Litigation Section
  • Scribes (society of legal writers), member
  • American Board of Trial Advocates (invitation only), member
  • Listed as one of the 2009 Best Lawyers in America


  • Adjunct Professor trial advocacy University of Washington Law School 2005 - present
Karen K. Koehler

Practice Areas

Examples of Karen's Work

Presentations & Articles

Karen's YouTube Page

Karen's Facebook Page

Karen's Twitter Stream

Karen's LinkedIn Page

Contact Karen at (206) 448-1777

Cross Examination
Voir Dire
by Karen Koehler
published December, 2010
Reader Comments
Listen an excerpt of an actual voir dire in a trial
Listen to the entire voir dire of a
medical malpractice trial


Visit Karen's personal website, KarenKoehler.com.


Visit Karen's personal blog & learn why the "Velvet Hammer™" has a growing number of followers - including attorneys and judges from all over the country.


Visit the SKW Spinal Cord Injury Law Blog, of which Karen is the main contributor.


Spinal Cord Injury Association of Washington