Our History

Starting in 1945

The Stritmatter name first appeared in our law firm in 1945 after Lester Stritmatter returned from his US Navy military service during WWII and joined Warner Poyhonen in the Hoquiam general practice law firm of Poyhonen and Stritmatter.  In 1950 Poyhonen became a Grays Harbor County Superior Court Judge and Lester Stritmatter carried on as a sole practitioner. 


In 1970 Paul Stritmatter joined his father and they practiced under the name of Stritmatter and Stritmatter for 12 years.  Their offices were located at 407 Eighth Street in Hoquiam.


In 1980, both Keith Kessler who at the time was a criminal defense lawyer and F. Mark McCauley joined the firm.  After Lester Stritmatter passed away in 1982, the firm name was changed to Stritmatter Kessler McCauley.  


In 1992, Brad Moore, the step-son and adopted son of Keith Kessler joined the firm straight out of law school. Then, the following year, Mark McCauley became the second member of the firm to ascend to the Grays Harbor Superior Court bench. In 1994, Garth Jones who had for many years worked for the Washington State Administrator of the Courts, joined specifically to perform the research and writing of motions, briefs and jury instructions to support the trial lawyers in the firm. In 1996, Ray Kahler, a Harvard Law School graduate, knocked on the door, asked for a job and was hired.  The offices were moved to larger quarters at 413 Eighth Street in Hoquiam. 

In 1997, the decision was made to partner with Paul Whelan, Mike Withey and Kevin Coluccio to open a Seattle office. At the same time senior attorneys Leonard Schroeter and Murray Kleist joined the firm in limited roles as “Of Counsel.”  Cases were handled in virtually every county of the state, and periodically in other states.


In 2004, Karen Koehler left her personal injury partnership in Bellevue and became a member of the firm.


In 2013 Travis Jameson left his solo practice in Nevada and joined the firm. The following year Dan Laurence left his solo practice in Everett and joined the firm.  Then in 2015 we welcomed the husband and wife team of Andrew and Courtney Ackley to the firm. Andrew previously worked at the firm as a law school intern. Melanie Nguyen joined the firm in 2017 after clerking one year for Justice Charles W. Johnson following  law school. In 2018, Brian Ladenburg who had a history of handling asbestos and toxic litigation in the state of Washington, joined the firm.

In 2018, Paul Whelan passed away after a distinguished career as a trial lawyer representing the interests of injured people in product liability and medical negligence cases. He is sorely missed by his family, our legal family and his many clients. 


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Read an article on the roots and evolution of our law firm

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Our firm received the Alvin Anderson Award in 2006.

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Karen Koehler, president of WSAJ in 2007 writes a profile of the firm