Outside the Office
As much as Paul and his wife Mary Elizabeth enjoy traveling to points around the world, they reserve plenty of "home" time with their two granddaughters
Most people assume that I became a lawyer because my father was a lawyer. That is not the case, although later in my education I was influenced by my father to go to law school. I had always wanted to be a doctor—a surgeon—but it was not to be.
The first great legal influence was the YMCA Youth and Government program. As a Hoquiam Hi-Y Club member, for three years I participated in the Youth and Government program. We took over the state capital buildings and conducted a mock legislature for three days, proposing and arguing for the passage of state legislation. Both my junior and senior years in the program I managed to get a bill passed by the youth legislature.
I began college at the University of Washington as a pre-med student. After one year of chemistry, calculus and other assorted science classes, I decided to turn my attention to the liberal arts. I majored in economics, but took classes in speech and debate. I loved the competition of arguing key political and legal issues. I decided I wanted to be a trial lawyer and the rest is history. And of course as a personal injury trial lawyer, I get to combine my interest in medicine, economics, law and debate. I am fortunate indeed.
In my first personal injury trial, I took over a case of my father’s against the City of Aberdeen. I had been practicing law for four months. Our client had tripped on a city sidewalk as a result of a significant offset. She had fractured three ribs with other cuts and bruises. Dad’s Claim filed before the lawsuit, sought a recovery for $2,500. (Today we are not allowed to file a complaint for a particular dollar figure.) I argued in closing for an award of $13,800. The jury awarded $14,000. What a thrill. Turned out I was a trial lawyer!!
Since that beginning I have handled well over 1,000 plaintiff personal injury cases. I have settled or tried to verdict 80 cases for over one million dollars each. The cases have run the gamut from auto crashes to plane crashes. From highway design to product design. From recreational diving to recreational soccer. From medical malpractice to legal malpractice. From insurance fraud to Insurance Fair Conduct cases. From Federal Tort Claims to Tribal Court claims. I have done them all.
And when you are a trial lawyer, you become an appellate lawyer because many of my significant verdicts have been appealed. I established the right of a wife to sue for the loss of consortium of her injured husband in Lundgren vs. Whitneys, Inc. I successfully argued the case that found the Legislative artificial cap on damages was unconstitutional in Sofie v. Fibreboard Corp. I established the dual persona doctrine in Washington, allowing an employee to sue his employer who owned land as a separate legal entity. I helped establish the legal concept of governmental roadway liability in Breivo v. City of Aberdeen. I established the liability of gun dealers who provide a gun to an intoxicated person in Bernethy v. Walt Failor’s, Inc.
And all of this has been done based out of my hometown of Hoquiam, surrounded by family and friends from childhood.
+ Awards & Recognitions
- Champion of Justice Award, Public Justice, 2010
- Lifetime Achievement Award, Washington State Association for Justice, 2009
- Trial Lawyer of the Year, American Board of Trial Advocates (WA Chapter), 2005
- Pursuit of Justice Award, American Bar Association, 2003
- Alvin Anderson Award, Washington State Association for Justice, 2000
- President's Award, Washington State Association for Justice, 1982
- Award of Merit, Washington State Bar Association, 1995
- Distinguished Alumni Award in Law, Willamette University, 1994
- Small Town Lawyer Made Good Award, Poulsbo Bar Association, 1990
- Trial Lawyer of the Year, Washington State Association for Justice, 1987
- Listed as one of the 60 Grays Harbor County persons over time who have been recognized nationally in various endeavors, The Harbor - a culture of success, 2002
- Named as Top 10 Super Lawyer in Washington State, Super Lawyers, 2005, 2006, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2017, 2018
- Named as Top 100 Super Lawyer in Washington State, Super Lawyers 2003-2018
- Listed in "The Best Lawyers in America", Best Lawyers publication, 1989-present
- Named as one of the top 500 Leading Litigants in America, Lawdragon Magazine, 2006
- Named as one of the top 500 Leading Plaintiffs' Lawyers in America, Lawdragon Magazine, 2007
- Named as one of the top 500 Leading Lawyers in America, Lawdragon Magazine, 2009, 2001. 2012, 2014, 2015
- Rated AV (highest available rating), Martindale-Hubbell, 1975-present
+ Memberships & Leadership
- American Association for Justice (AAJ): Board of Governors 1990-1993, State Delegate 1986-1990, Public Affairs Committee 1985-1987, State Development Fund Board 1985-1986, Circuit Key Men Committee 1985-1986, Committee on Ethics 1987-1993
- Access to Justice Board: Chairman, appointed by Washington State Supreme Court 1994 - 1998
- American Judicature Society Association of Trial Lawyers of America: Board of Governors 1990-1993
- LAW Fund: Board of Directors 1990-2003
- Public Justice: President 2002-2003, Founding Member 1982
- Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ): President 1984-1985, Foundation Board of Directors 2000-present
- Washington State Bar Association (WSBA): President 1993-1994
- Washington State Supreme Court: Appointed to the Jury Instructions committee by the Washington State Supreme Court 1985-1990, Clerk to Justices Matthew Hill (1969) and Charles Stafford (1970)
- American Bar Association (ABA)
- Damage Attorneys Round Table
- Washington State Head Injury Foundation
- ERISA Subrogation and Reimbursement Update, AAJ, July 2013 and WSAJ 2013 Annual Meeting and Convention.
- "Sex, Lies & Subrogation," WSAJ 2011 Annual Meeting and Convention, Whistler, B.C.
- "Medicare/ERISA," WSAJ 2011 Annual Meeting and Convention, Whistler, B.C.
- "Ethel Adams v. Farmers Insurance Exchange," WA State Bar Association - High Profile Cases: Experience the Cases with the Lawyers Who Tried Them, Oct. 2008
- "How the Case of Ethel Adams Changed the Law," AAJ, Litigation at Sunrise, July 2007
- "How to Try Damages Without Medical Testimony," WSTLA*, Hot Topics Seminar, Oct. 2006
- "Effective Use of Demonstrative Evidence to Win Sanction Motions for Discovery Violations," WSTLA*, Hot Topics Seminar, Oct. 2006
- "Cross Examination," ATLA [now American Association for Justice (AAJ)], Annual Convention, July 2006
- "Confidentiality in Tort Settlements," Listen to podcast, produced at ATLA Convention with radio host Tony Robinson, 2006.
- "Arguing Damages," WSTLA* Trial Stars, December 2003
- "Closing Argument", WSTLA* Damages seminar, March 2002
- "The Ultimate Sanction/A Case Study", WSTLA* Paris Seminar, Continuing Legal Education, Sept. 2000
- "Why I'm a Trial Lawyer", ATLA [Now AAJ] Annual Convention, July 2000
- "Damages in Mediation and Negotiations", WSTLA* Trial Masters Seminar, Dec. 1999
- "Representing Plaintiffs", University of Washington, Dean's Roundtable Luncheon, Nov. 1998
- "Practicing Law with Civility", WSBA - Winning Strategy for the Successful Private Practice, Sept. 1998
- "The Fine Art of Opening Statements", ACTL, Trial Lawyers' Greatest Hits '97, Dec. 1997
- "Keeping the Faith: Restoring Trust in the Legal Profession", WA Attorney General's Conference, Sept. 1997
- "Presentation and Demonstration of Damages and Closing Statements", WSTLA*, Best of WSTLA Series: Openings, Closings and Presenting Damages, Sept. 1996
- "How to Improve Your Initial Client Interviews & Intake Procedures", University of Washington, 2nd Annual Northwest Trial Mastery Demonstration Program , Deciding Whether to Take the Case, June 1997
- "Representing Plaintiffs", KCBA and Washington Journal
- "Bridging the Gap" program, Dec. 1995
- WSTLA* Convention, July 1987 - "Subrogation - The Primary Intent of the Law"
- WSTLA - Insurance Law Potpourri, December 1977 - "Subrogation."
+ Articles About Paul
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- Picking Fights with Big Shots, Super Lawyers Magazine, 2013 [🔍]
- Stritmatter honored by his peers, The Daily World, 2009
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- Willamette University College of Law, J.D., magna cum laude, 1969
- University of Washington, B.A. Economics, 1966