with Gov. Bill Viall
Bill Viall was elected to the WSBA Board of Gov- ernors in September 2011. From 1997–2013, he served as chief operations officer and counsel at Williams Kastner in Seattle. His practice expe- rience includes jury and bench trials in district and superior courts, practice in U. S. district and bankruptcy courts, and appeals to the Washington Court of Appeals and Washington Supreme Court. For
more than 20 years, he served as the city attorney for Normandy Park. Gov. Viall was also a Washington state senate candidate in addition to serving as a King County District Court pro
tem judge. He received his bachelor’s degree and law degree
from the University of Washington. This is his third and final
year serving on the Board of Governors.
Governors for decision. But, from time to time, I think that the
Board of Governors has gotten bogged down in what I would call
“political matters” that are only tangential to the administration
of justice, failing to recognize that a wide diversity of views by
all the individual members would mitigate against supporting
any single view under such circumstances. In the recent past,
Bar members held a referendum, which rolled back license fees.
However, the underlying message for me was that the Board was
out of step with the majority of members. Members expect that
governors will keep in mind the service aspect of their duties,
rather than using the position as a bully pulpit.
3What decision or accomplishment are you the most proud of from your service on the Board?
My view is that the core function of the Bar is to
regulate and protect the practice and rule of law and
to provide service to members. In the face of the referendum rolling back license fees, we needed to reevaluate how we were spending money. I was happy
to be a part of streamlining and revamping the organization to achieve those reductions. However,
in order to be able to provide service to members,
we need to have an efficient and motivated staff. My
proudest moment was to get the Board to reconsider
and approve staff raises, over a committee recommendation that no raises be given. In a downsized
Bar, providing competitive salaries is critical to our
4What has been the most diffi- cult decision you had to make
as a governor, and why?
Opposing a motion that the Board
of Governors endorse Referendum
74 in the recent general election.
The matter came before the Board of
Governors for consideration by oral
motion at a meeting with no written
notice to the public or Bar members.
While the Board is within the scope
of its powers to provide advice to
elected officials on matters relating
to the administration of justice, the constitutional right of the
people to referendum hardly falls within that limited purview.
The Board should not be trying to influence the outcome of an
election by the general public, any more than members of the
Supreme Court should do so.
5Can you share one thing we may not know about you?
I have four adult children who are my best contribution to the
world. Three are married, each to a person of diverse ethnicity. NWL
TAKE 5 lets you learn a little more about your Board of Governors. If you have further questions for Gov. Viall, he can be
reached at email@example.com.
WSBA Gov. Bill Viall (fourth from the left) and his family celebrate the marriage of his son and
daughter-in-law in Kanda Shrine, Tokyo, in April 2012.
1Why did you want to serve on the WSBA Board of Gover- nors?
Throughout the course of my career, I had served in public
and community service positions such as the Highline School
Board and the Normandy Park Community Club, but I had
never done any community service for the Bar Association. A
letter showed up in the mail one day asking me if I would consider running for the Board of Governors. In a Russell Wilson
moment, I thought, “Why not you, Bill?” and so I decided to
run. Having practiced for nearly 40 years, I thought it was a
good time to do my part and give back to the profession that
has treated me well for all that time.
2What is the most important lesson you have learned about WSBA members since you’ve been on the Board?
On a daily basis, I think most lawyers are very busy with client
matters in what is clearly a deadline-driven, intense, and somewhat difficult profession. They have a right to rely on their elected Bar representatives to keep a pulse on the needs and views
of the members, as well as to rely on their independent exercise
of judgment in voting on matters that come before the Board of