In the most recent issue of Washington Super Lawyers & Rising Stars magazine (available online, digitally, via app, and of course in magazine form), we highlight Rebecca Ringer, whose lifelong campaign for justice began with a high school crusade against the Sadie Hawkins Day dance.
A personal injury lawyer at Floyd Pflueger & Ringer, Ringer represents healthcare providers-ranging from individual nurses and doctors to Providence Health Systems and Group Health Cooperative of Puget Sound.
“She has a win/loss percentage that’s almost unparalleled. She speaks softly, carries a very big stick,” says colleague Francis Floyd. “She’s not afraid to try a case …Some litigators talk about going to trial, but they don’t really want to. She is preparing the case for trial from the very first day; she’s thinking about tactics, about issues that might come up.”
Ringer’s job starts with a great deal of fact-finding. “Most of my clients are pretty straight with me on whether they think there is a problem in their care,” she says. “If there is, they tell me, ‘I’ve thought about this one a lot and maybe in retrospect, I should have done something here, earlier, versus here, later.’ But if they have gone back and looked, and really do think that they met the standard of care, it’s hard for them to understand that there are professionals taking a different position.”
That’s when she has to reassure them about the jury system: “They’re very nervous about juries. They’re thinking, ‘That’s not a jury of my peers; I need a bunch of doctors deciding my case.’ I have to spend a lot of time educating them that I’ve seen it time and time again–you put 12 people together and they get real smart as a functioning group.”
We also interview James Lobsenz, an unassuming appellate lawyer at Carney Badley Spellman who could boast of some landmark rulings. The most recent headline-grabber was the case of Major Margaret Witt, an award-winning 17-year veteran Air Force nurse who was once featured on a promotional Air Force brochure. Witt lost her post in 2004 after being outed for being gay. It took six years, but a federal judge ultimately ruled that “don’t ask, don’t tell” was unconstitutional as applied to Witt. Three months later, Congress threw out the entire policy. Many, including Sen. Joe Lieberman, believe Witt’s ruling played a major role.
Anne Bremner, with Stafford Frey Cooper, has opposed Lobsenz–whom she calls a “brainiac”–in several cases. “Jim’s not a prestige guy,” she says. “It’s all about justice, the law and individual rights.”
Judge J. Robin Hunt echoes the praise: “He has the utmost integrity. Whatever he’s representing about the case law, the facts, he’s not going to misconstrue things.”
As for Witt, she had confidence in Lobsenz from the first meeting. “He was very serious about the conversation. Serious about me,” she says. “I knew that if he took my case, he would give it his all.”
In our Q&A with John Hempelmann, you’ll find out about the role this land use attorney with Cairncross & Hempelmann played in ‘Camelot’-including shoveling snow for JFK’s inaugural parade and attending the inaugural ball-as well as his near-victorious bid to become a U.S. congressman and the influence he wields when it comes to shaping public policy.
You’ll also read about two Seattle environmental attorneys who are playing key roles in Louisiana’s litigation over the 2010 Gulf oil spill. Bradley M. Marten, with Marten Law, is serving as special assistant to Louisiana’s attorney general; and Samuel W. “Billy” Plauché IV, with Plauché & Stock, was tapped by Gov. Bobby Jindal to help with the administrative end of the litigation. Both attorneys are also very active in Washington state’s environmental landscape.
We tell the success story of Stephen Graham, of Fenwick & West, who started life in a small town in east Texas and is now managing partner at his Silicon Valley-based firm’s recently opened Seattle office. Graham, who handles mergers and acquisitions, is also the office’s lead biosciences attorney. He’s been working on strategy since junior high, when he would play marathon battlefield board games.
Giving us their take on the best advice they’ve ever received are Bruce Goto, intellectual property attorney with Riddell Williams; Katie Matison, transportation/maritime lawyer with Lane Powell; Chris Alston, bankruptcy lawyer at Foster Pepper; Robert Tenney, personal injury attorney at Fluegge & Tenney; and Eileen Peterson, elder law/estate planning lawyer at Gordon Thomas Honeywell.