Patty’s interest in and commitment to legal advocacy began early. While pursuing an undergraduate degree at Grinnell College, Patty interned with the Iowa Commission on the Status of Women and the Citizen’s Information Service in Chicago where she prepared fact sheets and other self-help resources for women and low-income individuals. She attended the 1977 International Women’s Year Conference in Houston where a National Plan of Action to secure women’s rights was developed. She also participated in local and state political campaigns and initiatives to secure civil rights for Washington’s LGBTQ community.
After several years with the City of Seattle’s Human Rights Department, enforcing fair housing and employment laws, Patty interned with the Northwest Women’s Law Center (now Legal Voice) and served as Executive Director of Washington Volunteer Lawyers for the Arts (WVLA) while pursuing a Master of Public Administration (MPA) from Seattle University’s Institute for Public Service. In both settings she was responsible for information and referral programs to educate women; LGBT individuals; and visual, literary, and performing artists on their legal rights. In addition to making referrals to pro bono lawyers and to existing community resources, Patty developed written materials and coordinated workshops and other self-help programs.
In addition to her work with WVLA, before attending law school Patty worked closely with lawyers, providing investigative and paralegal services such as witness interviews and litigation support on select employment cases. She also offered counseling to individuals on employment disputes and advocated for them before administrative agencies addressing employment discrimination and unemployment compensation benefits. While at the University of Puget Sound School of Law (now Seattle University School of Law), Patty staffed the Public Interest Law Foundation’s Pro Bono Network to connect students with internship opportunities in public interest law. She also participated in the UPS Law Review. Her article Going Too Far or Just Doing Their Job: The Double Bind Facing EEO Officers won a national writing competition sponsored by the Labor and Employment Law Section of the American Bar Association (ABA) and was published in its journal, The Labor Lawyer.
After working three years as a Rule 9 Intern and Associate for Frank and Rosen (now Frank Freed Subit & Thomas), Patty opened her own practice in 1991. She is admitted to practice in Washington State, the United States District Courts of Western and Eastern Washington, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, and the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals.
Today, Patty is an active member of the Washington Employment Lawyers Association (WELA) and the King County Bar Association (KCBA) and Washington State Bar Association (WSBA), serving in their Labor and Employment Law sections. She has engaged in local and state bar sections addressing collaborative law and alternative dispute resolution, solo and appellate practice, and civil rights issues. Patty also served on the Legal Committee of the National Women’s Law Center (NWLC) and the Amicus Committee of WELA, and was a trustee of the LGBT section of the WSBA for several years. For many years, she has participated in the Program Committee of KCBA’s annual Pacific Coast Labor & Employment Law Conference. That program is a premier legal education program on cutting edge employment law topics with national speakers. Patty also volunteers with the Neighborhood Legal Clinic program of the King County Bar Association.
Patty’s Commitment to Collaborative Negotiation & Alternative Dispute Resolution
Patty’s work with individual clients has always emphasized resolution of disputes for current and former employees. It is her belief that many employment conflicts can and should be addressed and resolved informally, without litigation or other formal legal action. She has observed first-hand how the traditional adversarial process of litigation is a protracted and stressful process for all parties, especially for the employee. Moreover, the result is often disappointing to an individual simply seeking fair and just treatment. Challenges to livelihood and reputation often threaten a client’s self-esteem and economic security and can result in feelings of betrayal and powerlessness.
To address these issues, Patty has committed herself to collaborative negotiation and alternative dispute resolution (ADR). As an advocate, she has experienced the benefits of resolving disputes proactively through mediation and other non-litigation methods. In this setting, a client retains more control over the process and outcome. Early resolution can be achieved when both parties commit to end the rancor and anger towards one another. Escalation of any dispute into litigation will always involve risk analysis, association of new counsel, and often referral to experienced trial counsel. As employment law and legislation expands, Patty continues to collaborate with attorneys on litigation dedicated to advancing the rights of employees and on appeals to ensure that developing case law continues to progress.