trust. We are a precedent-based profession, laden with tradition
and traditional values—yet we ignore the future at our peril.
To endure and thrive, change quite likely will be necessary in
the times to come. A principal reason I ran for president is my
desire to help our members—and the organization—through the
passages that lay ahead. I hope to lead in a fashion that recognizes the need for change yet is sympathetic to its impact on
our members. I wish to help us adapt wisely by carefully studying the need for and method of change. I hope change occurs
after member engagement and in a manner that builds trust. I
am reminded regularly of words from the poet Jane Hirshfield,
reminding us that eastern traditions teach us that “Everything
changes, everything is connected—pay attention.”
At the May 2017 Board of Governors meeting, there was generative discussion about mandatory malpractice insurance
as a condition for being licensed, and at the July meeting, a
subsequent vote to create a Mandatory Malpractice Insurance Task Force occurred. A referendum to defeat this very
topic took place in the 1980s. Why revisit this topic?
It appears that approximately 15 percent of our members have no
malpractice insurance to protect them or to protect their clients.
If the Board pursues an investigation of a system of mandatory
malpractice insurance, it will be to protect the public—and at-
torneys—with an eye towards the economic implications for our
members. Member engagement in this process will be critical.
The Board’s Budget and Audit Committee has recommended
license fees for the period of 2018-2020 to be raised incrementally from the current 2016-17 fee of $385 to $449, $453,
and $458, respectively. This proposal was approved at the
September 2016 Board meeting. How do you foresee the
Board handling fee-level proposals in the following years?
It is impossible for me to foresee how future boards will act.
One would hope that budget and licensing fee decisions will be
made based on the cost of efficiently providing our members
and the public with excellent, valuable services, while equipping
our members to be the excellent professionals who can, by their
training, experience, and high ethical standards, continue our
tradition of championing justice across the state for everyone.
Again, it is critical for members to engage in the budget process.
The Board’s Budget and Audit Committee develops budget and
licensing fee proposals in well-publicized meetings open to all
members. I invite our members who care about these matters to
show up, learn, and participate.
Other than those that have already been mentioned, what
do you see as the one or two biggest issues likely to face
the WSBA and Board during your term?
I wish it were only one or two—I see at least three:
First. We must continue to be champions of diversity, inclusion, and equity. The legacy of marginalization lives on in
our profession. I invite those of us who enjoy any amount
of privilege to look into our hearts, examine our actions,
and explore how our power affects members of traditionally
marginalized communities. From that I hope we can learn
to act as allies. If that happens in a broad-based manner,
the legacy of marginalization we all deplore will begin to
fade. When we succeed, our profession, the clients, and the
justice system we serve, as well as each of us, will reap the
Second. I want to again emphasize that member engagement
is critical. The WSBA needs an engaged professional community if it is to effectively work on its members’ behalf. I know
how busy each member is—buried in client matters, family,
and life in general. We must find effective means to reach our
busy members and engage them in WSBA affairs.
Third. We likely need to look at entity regulation as a
possible way to enhance access to the justice system for
all members of our communities. We should investigate
whether such regulation will help meet the reasonable economic expectations of our hard-working members, many of
whom are struggling under undergraduate and law school
debt. Contemplating and potentially implementing entity
regulation will require a many-faceted evaluation and
strong collaboration with the Washington Supreme Court
and WSBA stakeholders and members.
What is the most important lesson you have learned as a
lawyer that nobody taught you in law school?
What has been your greatest accomplishment as a lawyer?
The greatest accomplishment I can ever hope for as a lawyer
is a client well served.
Who has had the biggest overall positive influence on you,
in your legal career or otherwise?
My wife, law partner, and best friend, Eileen Butler, and my
three children, Wes, Maddy, and Amelia Furlong; their wis-
dom, encouragement, and support are my foundation.
What are your hobbies or interests?
I ski, mountain bike, road bike, and backpack. I love books,
plays, and music. Few things beat sitting in my living room
looking out the window at the profile of the Olympic Moun-
tains and appreciating the beauty of this great state. NWL