After eight years as editor of Bar News/NWLawyer, I am step- ping down. I have accepted the
position of executive director at LAW
Advocates, the legal aid and volunteer
lawyer program based in Bellingham.
I will also remain active in other legal
and media projects as time permits. As
I was putting the finishing touches on my
last NWLawyer contributions as editor,
I graciously took a moment to sit down
with me and discuss my experiences of
the past eight years. — M.H.
When you became editor in October 2007, did you have an overall
goal you wanted to achieve? If so,
did you fulfill it?
During my interviews with the hiring
committee and the WSBA Board of Governors, I said my top priority was to help
make the publication more “human,” by
which I meant more accessible, readable,
and focused on the personal as well as
professional concerns of bar members.
When I compare the appearance and content of the publication now versus eight
years ago, I feel justified in saying we accomplished that goal.
Your duties included writing a report of each Board of Governors
meeting. How many of those did
you attend over the years?
I attended around 80. And since I’m
based in Bellingham, almost all of those
were road trips for me. I’m proud to say
my attendance record was nearly perfect.
I missed only one meeting, and that was
because I had an eye injury and was instructed by my doctor not to travel.
Did anything weird ever happen at
one of those meetings?
Most bar members probably don’t realize
that Board meetings are big productions
involving a lot of people and logistics.
Before the budget reductions in 2012,
there were more meetings than we have
now and they were more far-flung, with
several trips each year outside of Seattle.
It was kind of a traveling circus, but in a
good way. So I can’t recall a meeting at
which something weird didn’t happen.
But the most entertainingly odd thing
happened the night before a meeting in
Wenatchee. The Board members, staff,
et al, were sound asleep in a downtown
hotel at about 4 a.m. when the fire alarm
went off. We all scrambled downstairs
into the parking lot while the fire depart-
ment checked things out. Fortunately, it
was just a lightbulb that had popped and
set off the smoke alarm. But I was treated
to the better part of an hour visiting with
some of our most esteemed members of
the bar and bench shivering in their pa-
jamas and nightgowns on the pavement.
Did you learn anything about lawyers in your role as editor that you
hadn’t learned from practicing law?
As a litigator, I generally viewed my fel-
low litigators unfavorably. OK, I’m half-
joking about that. Seriously, though,
when practicing law, most of my inter-
action with other lawyers has been in
an adversarial context, which goes with
the job. Of course I have friends in the
profession and get along well even with
some of my regular opponents. But, as
editor, I have had the pleasure of working
with lawyers entirely in a collaborative
role. Most of the authors who contribute
to NWLawyer are practicing attorneys
who volunteer their time to write for
us. Dealing with lawyers in that setting
was overwhelmingly positive. I edited,
sometimes substantially, pieces written
by some of the best-known and most in-
fluential members of the bar, as well as
new members with little or no experience
writing for this type of publication. I can
recall no serious conflicts or complaints
that came up in that regard. And I can
remember only once that an author was
openly miffed that we declined to publish
a piece, an unsolicited submission.
How are lawyers as an audience?
Having been a newspaper reporter and
editor for seven years before law school,