State Relations

A New Crop of Lawyers in Olympia

The Spring 2007 issue of UW Law has a fascinating cover story on UW Law School alumni serving in the judiciary system, including a great cover shot and profile of the five Washington State Supreme Court justices who are UW law school alums.  This includes Chief Justice Gerry Alexander, Justice Richard Sanders, Justice Bobbe Bridge, Justice Tom Chambers and Justice James Johnson.

This got me to thinking about the recent decline of lawyers as members of the state legislature.  A generation ago, a significant number of state legislators had law degrees and along with ranchers and farmers, comprised a large percentage of the occupations of Washington’s citizen legislature.  The number of lawyers in the state legislature has gradually declined in recent years, and in fact, only three of the state’s 49 senators now have law degrees — Sen. Adam Kline (D-Seattle, J.D. University of Maryland), Sen. Brian Weinstein (D-Mercer Island, J.D. University of Texas), Sen. Phil Rockefeller (D-Kitsap County, J.D. Harvard University).

Up until this session, the number of lawyers had also dwindled down to four in the House of Representatives including Rep. Pat Lantz (D-Gig Harbor, J.D. University of Puget Sound), Rep. Skip Priest (R-Federal Way, J.D. George Washington University), Rep. Jay Rodne (R-Issaquah, J.D. Gonzaga University), and Rep. Brendan Williams (D-Olympia, J.D. University of Washington).

But something interesting happened last November.  Four of the newly elected members of the House also happened to have law degrees, effectively doubling the number of lawyers in the lower chamber.  The new lawyers in the legislature include Rep. Jamie Pederson (D-Seattle, Yale University); Rep. Troy Kelley (D-Lakewood, J.D. SUNY-Buffalo); Rep. Roger Goodman (D-Kirkland, J.D. George Washington University); and Rep. Deb Eddy (D-Kirkland, J.D. University of North Carolina).

All four freshman lawyers have their offices located adjacent to each other on the third floor in the John L. O’Brien Building, leading more than one lobbyist who had an appointment with one of the quartet to quip they were going to visit the “law firm of Pederson, Kelley, Goodman and Eddy.”  We’ll have to wait until November 2008 to find out if any new members “join the firm.”