My mother, Judge Marie Palachuk, has been a judge
for well over a decade. She
began law school at Gonzaga
University School of Law while
her two young children began
preschool. She worked mornings, and would often pick me
up and take me to her evening
classes. I remember a class on
taxation — I was too young to
understand tax law at the time.
Actually, I still don’t really understand tax law.
Fast forward a decade, and my mother was working
at the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) in Spokane.
She traveled constantly. She flew to Olympia,
Tacoma, or Seattle almost weekly. Yet, she always
came home and helped me with my math or science
homework. She told me, “Do well in science so you
can become an orthodontist.” It’s funny now when
I complain about a complex trial or a frustrating
opposing attorney, she just laughs and says, “I told
you to be an orthodontist!”
My mother single-handedly raised two small chil-
dren while working as a trial attorney in the Torts
Division of the AGO office. She told me stories about
depositions, motion practice, and strategies for trial.
She won case after case, and she loved the courtroom.
So in high school, I took AP classes in literature and
history rather than biology. I began reading John
Grisham by choice. My mother transitioned to the
bench while I was in college, where I was studying
philosophy instead of chemistry. Like it or not, she
knew I was probably heading to law school.
After college, I worked as a bank teller, bartender, and retail manager while I studied for the
LSAT. My mother housed me for free. Yes, I was a
millennial living at home after the recession. She
also calculated the fair market value of rentals in
the area multiplied by the number of months I lived
in her basement, and simply “suggested” that I pay
the would-be rent after law school. She still jokes
about it… she has to be joking, right?
When it came time to pick a law school, our
reemerged. My mother
taught Sunday school when
I was a kid. She always
dreamed of attending Notre
Dame. We watched the Irish
on Saturday and attended
mass on Sunday. Naturally
then, her first-generation
son chose Notre Dame
Law School. I still cheered
for Gonzaga, and I still
rooted for UW against
My mother is now a federal administrative law judge. I think
she will be a professor of civil procedure someday – or else
she will retire and work as a librarian. For my part, I moved
to Seattle and joined Jameson Babbitt Stites & Lombard as a
construction litigation attorney. I am three years into practice
and loving every minute of it.
She taught me a great deal. She challenged me, set high
expectations, and provided support. I know that without my
mother, I never would have gone to law school. Yet, I have to
wonder – what if I never read John Grisham? What if I never
studied philosophy? What if I became an orthodontist?
GEOFF PALACHUK is an associate at Jameson Babbitt Stites &
Lombard (JBSL) in Seattle. Before joining JBSL, Geoff worked as
an insurance defense attorney in Spokane. He can be reached at
BECOME AN ORTHODONTIST
by Geoff Palachuk