Welcoming Associates Katie Chan & Bryce Knutzen

Gordon Thomas Honeywell is pleased to welcome new associate attorneys Katie Chan and Bryce Knutzen to the firm!

Katie Chan graduated cum laude from the University of Michigan Law School and comes to GTH after serving two years as a judicial law clerk to Judge Linda Lee of the Washington Court of Appeals, Division II. As a law student, Katie worked with the Civil Rights Litigation Initiative, the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington State, and the American Civil Liberties Union Voting Rights Project, where she performed research and drafted legal documents related to issues including fair housing, employment discrimination, student rights, racial justice, criminal procedure, public defense, and voting rights.

Bryce Knutzen joins GTH after graduating magna cum laude from Villanova University Charles Widger School of Law. During his time in law school, Bryce served as a legal intern to the Appellate Division of the Thurston County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, where he conducted legal research and drafted briefs for appellate cases. Bryce also worked as a student attorney and tax intern, where he represented clients navigating the complex American tax system.

Stephanie Bloomfield Inducted into American College of Trial Lawyers

Stephanie Bloomfield
Stephanie Bloomfield

This weekend, GTH attorney Stephanie Bloomfield will be inducted into the American College of Trial Lawyers, a prestigious recognition from the preeminent organization of trial lawyers in North America dedicated to maintaining and improving the professionalism, ethics, and administration of justice encompassing trial practice. This honor is an invitation-only fellowship of trial lawyers in the United States and Canada for a select number of attorneys who have demonstrated the very highest standards of trial advocacy, ethics and integrity, and professionalism throughout their careers.

Stephanie acknowledges, “This is the most meaningful accomplishment of my career, second only to becoming a GTH partner. I am honored that my peers and opposing counsel have chosen to recognize my work with this invitation.” 

Stephanie came to GTH in 1994 after graduating from the University of Washington School of Law with the desire to become a trial lawyer and work alongside many renowned litigation attorneys who were GTH partners at that time. Uniquely, GTH offered opportunities in defense, plaintiff, and business litigation—and Stephanie wanted to learn from it all.   

“The firm and its lawyers have a reputation in trial advocacy, and in giving associates the opportunity to be involved in trial work at a higher level. While developing the skill set takes hard work and dedication, I do not believe I could have achieved this honor without the experiences afforded to me at GTH.” 

Stephanie fondly remembers the lessons learned early in her career from some of her many mentors. “From Ron Leighton, I learned that jurors are smart and have common sense.  Don’t forget your audience.  From Mark Honeywell, I learned that even though the system is adversarial, we are working to a just result and need to make the effort to work collaboratively with opposing counsel.  From Rick Creatura, I learned the importance of opening statements and a theme.  From Jack Connelly, I learned that the important part of a case was finding the injustice and showing the jury how to right it.  From Sal Mungia, I learned that heartfelt emotion and empathy have a place in trial – along with not being too serious.  From Brad Maxa, I learned that being a good defense lawyer was properly evaluating cases and being respectful to plaintiffs and witnesses.” 

These experiences have contributed to a successful practice in employment, business, injury, and commercial litigation, as well as estate litigation and contract disputes. Stephanie holds numerous honors and recognitions for her work, including American Board of Trial Advocates (ABOTA) Trial Lawyer of the Year and Washington Super Lawyers’ Top 50 Women Lawyers in Washington and Top 100 Washington Super Lawyers.

Over her career, Stephanie has served in a variety of leadership positions with the Washington State Bar Association and Tacoma-Pierce County Bar Association. She is also a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates, American Inns of Court, Washington State Association for Justice, American Bar Association, and Order of the Barristers. 

This recognition by the American College of Trial Lawyers is a testament to the hard work, dedication, and skill that Stephanie has and continues to put into her practice each day. Her advice to attorneys seeking a career as a litigator? “Take every opportunity. Work with talented trial attorneys – this includes opposing counsel. Observe and learn from everyone in the courtroom.  You will remember losses far longer than your victories; learn what you can and move on.  Don’t get so caught up in the adversarial and competitive nature of trial work that you forget to be a normal human, and remember to maintain your cool, your professionalism, and respect even when all is falling apart around you. “  

And, most importantly, “Ask questions, remain curious and interested, and work hard.” 

Access to Justice Conference, Sept. 28-30

Gordon Thomas Honeywell is pleased to be a sponsor of the Alliance for Equal Justice’s Access to Justice Conference, held on September 28-30 at the Tacoma Convention Center (and virtual).  The Alliance for Equal Justice comprises a network of Washington-based organizations working together to coordinate and deliver civil legal aid to individuals and communities experiencing poverty and injustice.  Every two years, the Access to Justice Conference convenes individuals across Washington who are committed to dismantling legal systems of oppression and poverty and offers systemic advocacy strategies, skills-building, and training.

The 2023 Access to Justice Conference theme is “Shifting Justice Towards Accountability and Trust” and specifically focuses on the intersectionality of systems that lead to injustice and collectively make progress on breaking down barriers to advocacy.  The conference’s working sessions will be led by community organizations and groups developing strategies to change the systems perpetuating systemic oppression.

For more information about the conference and to register, visit: http://allianceforequaljustice.org/accesstojusticeconference/

GTH Attorneys Recognized as Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year

This year, five GTH attorneys have been recognized by Best Lawyers in America for their excellence across practice areas offered by the firm.

Managing Partner Salvador Mungia has been awarded the Lawyer of the Year award for his civil rights practice in Tacoma, Washington. He has also been recognized by Best Lawyers for his appellate practice and work in commercial and personal injury litigation.

Best Lawyers also recognized GTH attorneys William Lynn, for his work in environmental, land use and zoning, and real estate law; Donald Cohen, for his work in environmental and municipal law; Brad Jones, for his work in environmental law; and Julie Dickens, for her work in trusts and estates.

Best Lawyers is based on peer review to reflect the consensus opinion of top attorneys within the same geographic and practice areas. “Lawyer of the Year” is awarded to individuals who receive the highest peer feedback for a specific practice area and geographic region. Only one attorney may be recognized in their practice area and geographical location for this award.

Court of Appeals Affirms Trial Victory in Neighbor Dispute

On July 24, 2023, Division I of the Washington Court of Appeals affirmed a trial victory in a neighbor dispute litigated by GTH partner Ryan Espegard.  The appellate court affirmed a $982,000 trial court judgment in favor of Mr. Espegard’s client and awarded attorneys’ fees on appeal. 

In the dispute, Mr. Espegard represented the plaintiff, who brought claims of timber trespass, waste, and nuisance related to the neighbor’s repeated actions damaging plaintiff’s property.  Mr. Espegard also brought a quiet title claim to resolve a boundary dispute.  On November 23, 2021, a jury found the neighbor liable for all claims and awarded his client $853,545 in damages, plus $128,550 in attorneys’ fees and costs.  The neighbor appealed on several evidentiary, technical, and procedural grounds. On April 23, 2023, Mr. Espegard argued at the Washington Court of Appeals and defeated each of the neighbor’s theories as to why the trial verdict should be reversed.  The Court also ordered the neighbor to reimburse the plaintiff for his attorney fees incurred in the appeal, which is expected to bring the total award to over $1 million.

A copy of Division I’s opinion is below and can be read here.

16 GTH Attorneys Recognized as 2023 Washington Super Lawyers

Thomson Reuters’ 2023 Super Lawyers has recognized sixteen Gordon Thomas Honeywell attorneys on its annual list. Super Lawyers selects the top 5% of attorneys on a state-by-state basis each year using peer nominations, evaluations, and independent research. This year, the recognized attorneys at GTH represent a range of practice areas offered by the firm, including business litigation, land use/zoning, employment litigation, utilities, environmental litigation, environmental law, estate planning and probate, mergers and acquisitions, personal injury medical malpractice, elder law, employment and labor, and insurance coverage.

Shelly M. Andrew, Business Litigation, Super Lawyer

Margaret Y. Archer, Land Use/Zoning, Super Lawyer

Stephanie Bloomfield, Employment Litigation, Super Lawyer, Top 50 2023 Women Washington Super Lawyers, and Top 100 2023 Washington Super Lawyers

Donald S. Cohen, Utilities, Super Lawyer

Dianne K. Conway, Environmental Litigation, Super Lawyer

Brad Jones, Environmental Law, Super Lawyer

Emma Luton, Estate Planning & Probate, Rising Star

William T. Lynn, Land Use/Zoning, Super Lawyer

Travis A. Mahugh, Mergers & Acquisitions, Rising Star

Andrea H. McNeely, Business Litigation, Super Lawyer

Salvador A. Mungia, Personal Injury Medical Malpractice, Super Lawyer

Amanda M. Nathan, Estate Planning & Probate, Rising Star

Eileen S. Peterson, Elder Law, Super Lawyer

Chelsea E. Rauch, Employment & Labor, Rising Star

Michael E. Ricketts, Insurance Coverage, Super Lawyer

Robert C. Wilke, Personal Injury Medical Malpractice, Rising Star

Meet Our Summer Associates: Stephanie Blackner Smith

Stephanie Blackner Smith (she/her) is a rising 3L at University of Washington School of Law and one of two 2023 summer associates at Gordon Thomas Honeywell. She provided us with some insights about her experience in the field of law and at GTH this summer.

What made you decide on a career in law?

Although I have always been interested in the law, I became more serious about pursuing a legal career after working with West African refugees in Philadelphia. Many of them needed legal advice with immigration and criminal defense and I wished that I had the tools and familiarity with the legal process to help them. Also, after staying at home with my kids for a number of years, I was ready to serve people in a different way and I have loved the challenge so far.

Do you know which area(s) of law you would like to practice after graduation?

I have especially enjoyed working with the land use and general litigation team here at Gordon Thomas Honeywell. Every day is different, and I have enjoyed working on a wide variety of legal issues. I would be happy to continue this type of work after graduation.

What do you hope to learn during your summer with GTH as you go into your 3L year?

Having never worked in civil litigation, I am hoping to become more familiar with the entire process of helping to solve problems for a client. This could be observing a settlement negotiation, writing a complaint or letter, observing a deposition and/or trial, and researching legal issues. I am hoping to develop my research and writing skills in a practical and useful way.

Why GTH for your 2L summer?

GTH has a great reputation in the South Sound. With offices in both Seattle and Tacoma, GTH serves a wide variety of clients and has attorneys that specialize in many different practice areas. I am excited to learn from attorneys who are the best in their fields and look forward to trying out different areas of law. Plus, it is close to home.

What do you like to do in your free time outside of school and work?

Having been raised in this area, I love all things outdoors. I enjoy hiking, waterfalls, paddle boarding, pickleball, and Seattle sports teams.

Partner Jemima McCullum Rejoins TAM Board

Partner Jemima McCullum has rejoined the Tacoma Art Museum (TAM) Board of Trustees, an organization “near and dear to [her] heart.” She previously served on the Board between 2009 and 2015. Jemima credits her love of Northwest art and a desire to stay current with the arts community as primary motivators that drew her to the position. She expressed that this was the perfect time to jump back into TAM and get plugged back into the art community. Jemima is particularly looking forward to all that Andrew Maus, TAM’s new director, will bring to the museum and regional arts community.

Jemima urges everyone to become a Tacoma Art Museum member and learn about its exciting upcoming plans with Maus at the helm, as well as TAM’s commitment to diversity, equity, inclusion, accessibility, and anti-racism. As a Board Member, Jemima looks forward to learning more about what regional artists have been working on over the last few years, reconnecting with Tacoma’s art enthusiasts, and being a part of TAM’s mission and passion for the arts.

For more information about the Tacoma Art Museum, please visit: https://www.tacomaartmuseum.org/

Meet Our Summer Associates: Nadine Khalidi

Nadine Khalidi (she/her) is a rising 3L at University of Washington School of Law and one of two 2023 summer associates at Gordon Thomas Honeywell, splitting her time between GTH’s Seattle and Tacoma offices. We caught up with her to ask about her experience with law school and summer at GTH thus far.

What helped you decide on a career in law?

The law permeates virtually every professional field that exists, and it takes many different shapes and forms. I find it fascinating and perpetually relevant. I’ve also always wanted to be a resource and advocate for others, and I enjoy research and writing.

Do you know which area(s) of law you would like to practice after graduation?

I’m enjoying learning about various practice groups at GTH. I’m hoping to practice Labor & Employment law after graduation, because it incorporates human interaction and wellbeing with business and contract elements.

What do you hope to learn during your summer with GTH as you go into your 3L year?

I’m hoping to learn more about alternative dispute resolution opportunities in different practice areas. I also hope to find practical applications for my writing skills in the Labor & Employment law group, both in research formats and in drafting handbooks and resources for clients. So far, I’ve been given many opportunities to participate in meaningful and rewarding projects.

Why GTH for your 2L summer?

During my interview process, I got the sense that GTH deeply cares about the success of its attorneys. Since I’ve started as a Summer Associate, it’s been confirmed that GTH fosters a hardworking and enjoyable work environment. Every person has been kind, welcoming, and always ready to give me opportunities to learn. The firm itself is well established and continues to strive for excellence in innovative ways.  

What do you like to do in your free time outside of school and work?

I like to read, bake, travel, and paddle board on the lake.

July 1 – WA Cares Mandatory Premium Collections

The WA Cares Fund is a mandatory long-term insurance benefit funded by employee premiums to purchase in-home and/or in-facility services and support. It is administered by the Washington State Employment Security Department (ESD) and the Department of Social and Health Services (DSHS). The WA Cares Fund was initially set to begin on January 1, 2022, but was delayed while the Washington legislature made changes and additions to the law.

Beginning July 1, 2023, WA Cares premium collections come into effect. Employers in Washington will be required to collect WA Cares Fund premiums from all employees via mandatory payroll deduction, report employee wages and hours, and pay a quarterly premium. The premium rate for 2023 is 0.58% of each employee’s gross wages, and must be collected from employees whose work is localized in Washington. WA Cares uses the same localization definition as Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave (WPFML) program, so employees who are included under WPFML will also participate in WA Cares unless they have an exemption. 

WA Cares benefits will first be payable on July 1, 2026, and will be available to Washington residents who either (1) paid the tax for 5 consecutive years within a 10-year time period or (2) paid the tax for three out of the prior six years before applying for benefits. If eligible and if DSHS determines that an individual requires assistance with at least three activities of daily living, WA Cares provides benefits of up to $100 per day, up to a maximum lifetime limit of $36,500.

Almost all Washington workers will contribute to the WA Cares Fund, but there are some exceptions. Federal employees working in Washington do not contribute to the program, employees of tribal businesses only contribute if the tribe has opted in, and individuals who are self-employed can choose to opt-in. WA Cares is also delayed for employees who are parties to collective bargaining agreements in existence on October 19, 2017, unless and until the existing agreement is reopened or renegotiated by the parties or expires. These collectively bargained employees may, however, voluntarily opt-in to the program before their collective bargaining agreement is reopened, renegotiated, or expired.

Additionally, employees who would otherwise be required to contribute to WA Cares may be eligible for a permanent or conditional exemption. It is the employee’s responsibility to seek an exemption and present an approval letter from the ESD to their employer.  There are various grounds for employee exemptions; please contact a GTH employment attorney if you need more information regarding exemption eligibility.

Employees who had private long-term care insurance on or before November 1, 2021 were able to apply for an exemption from the WA Cares Fund from October 1, 2021 to December 31, 2022. This opt-out provision is no longer available. However, employees who were previously granted this exemption prior to the December 31, 2022 deadline will continue to be exempt.

If you have questions about your WA Cares Fund responsibilities as an employer, employee exemptions, whether an employee is subject to premium collection, or how to communicate these changes to employees, please contact a member of the Firm’s employment law group:  Valarie Zeeck, Shelly Andrew, Amanda O’Halloran, Chelsea Rauch, or Kirsten Parris.