I was born and raised in the Seattle area, where I come from a family of doctors. Despite this background, I never had any aspirations of pursuing a career in medicine. But my family did instill me with a strong sense of idealism which has never left me.
At first, I wanted to be a mental health counselor, so I earned a Bachelor degree in psychology. Upon graduating in 1979, I naively volunteered to intern at the Utah State Mental Health Hospital in Provo, Utah. The hospital assigned me to the forensic unit where I worked with serious criminal offenders to determine their competency top stand trial. Among those I worked with were a serial rapist, a college student who had shot his roommate to death in a spat over ice cream, and a 60 year-old child molester who claimed to hear voices in his head. Within days of starting my internship, it quickly became apparent that I was the person whose sanity should be questioned and my idealism turned to cynicism and I lost all desire of becoming a clinical psychologist.
Eventually, my idealism recovered and I decided on law as a career. I wanted to help develop the law to make it more accessible and responsive to the needs of ordinary people, as well as to use the law as a tool to implement social change and justice. With this in mind, I entered law school in 1981 and obtained my law degree in 1984.
Almost immediately after graduating, I was hired as a legal analyst by the Administrative Office of the Courts, a division of the Washington State Supreme Court. This positon fit me well and I remained there for ten years. In this capacity, I wrote judges’ bench books, worked on pattern forms, and monitored legislation for the Superior Court Judges’ Association that impacted superior courts. But my favorite and most important assignment was to staff the Washington Pattern Jury Instructions Committee, which I did for eight years from 1986 to 1994.
While staffing the WPI Committee, I met Paul Stritmatter. Later, in 1993, when Paul’s partner Mark McCauley was elected to the superior court bench in Grays Harbor County, Paul sent a letter to the Supreme Court looking for someone to fill Mark’s positon in the firm as a legal researcher and writer. I responded to Paul’s letter and was immediately hired by the Stritmatter Kessler law firm. Since that day, it has been my honor and privilege to work daily and closely with the very best personal injury and trial lawyers in the State of Washington.
With the Stritmatter law firm, I have fulfilled my desire to help make a difference in people’s lives and to effect positive changes in the law by researching and writing hundreds of briefs both at the trial level and the appellate level, including one case that was eventually heard by the U.S. Supreme Court. (Some the more significant cases that I have briefed and been involved in are detailed in the link below.)
- Grays Harbor County Bar Association
- Washington State Bar Association (WSBA)
- Washington State Supreme Court – Appointed to the Jury Instructions committee by the Washington State Supreme Court, YYYY
- Washington State Association for Justice, Trial News, “Excluding Wickizer and Partin,” 2018
- Brigham Young University, J.D., 1984
- Brigham Young University, B.S., Social Psychology, 1979