Ledger Square Law Named Firm of The Year

Friday night was NALS of Pierce County’s 52nd Bosses Night.  At the event, NALS presented Ledger Square Law, P.S. with Firm of the Year. 

Below is a copy of the nomination letter written by Amy Shackelford

FIRM OF THE YEAR

As I sit here this snowy Monday morning, I’m reflecting on where I’ve been and where I am now. In 2012 I started working for two partners of a large firm here in Tacoma. The end of 2014 held a lot of changes though.

Around that time, four partners, including the two partners I worked. decided to break away and form their own firm. They found this little office space in the Theater District which was supposed to be a bistro, but never was actually built out. It truly was a shell – literally four walls and a “loft” and nothing else. This concrete shell was transformed into 6 offices, 2 workrooms, conference room, and reception area. Then on January 2, 2015, we opened our doors.

Right from the start this place had a completely different feel. This isn’t a place of wood paneling and dusty law books. This is a bright and open concept area, with revolving art from local artists on the walls and glass fronted offices. The reception area just begs you to stop and chat either around the large rolling work table or relax into the couch and chairs by the fireplace.

From the first moment the doors opened for business, there was a very different vibe. We’ve all heard the term “team approach” but I’ve never seen it to the extent I have here. The attorneys have the bar numbers and the staff normally takes care of everything else, right? Not here! There’s no job here that is “attorneys” and/or “staff.” We all pitch in whenever and wherever is needed whether it be refilling the copiers with paper, answering phones and greeting clients, or running to the post office or store.

Shortly after we opened that “team approach” became very evident. Our overhead pendant lights had been back ordered so it was a bit dark, but workable. Around 4:00 p.m. one afternoon, a partner walks through the kitchen into ankle deep water! “Flood” rang out and everyone abandoned what they were doing to see what needed to be done. Here we have suits (minus jackets) and ties together with dresses and heels trying to deal with water flowing from the restroom and flooding the kitchen/reception desk. One partner yells to save the cabinets while I tell him to forget the cabinets and save my computer which, at the time, sat on the floor with water rapidly approaching. Talk about funny – just picture it – it’s late on a January afternoon, the attorneys are professionally dressed and attempting to stop the flood. Two are mopping and putting the water in a bucket while the other two are trying to carry and dump the bucket out to the middle of the street to dump it in the sewer drain. Talk about Keystone Kops! Once the water was dealt with and everyone could breathe a sigh of relief, we noticed the drain in the middle of our courtyard – which they walked over several times to get to the middle of the street.

The firm has always done things out of the ordinary — my 50th birthday they surprised the firm with a limo ride and appetizers at Shenanigans; and then there was an afternoon ride on the 90-year-old fishing boat Commencement, just to name a few. Recently I had an issue with propane at home and they were supportive, offering to help in any way possible. No matter what is going on, whether personally, professionally, or in the community, this firm always steps up. There isn’t a day that goes by that makes me want to be anywhere else. Mind you, I still have those days where nothing goes right, but the attorneys here make you laugh and enjoy even the most stressful and trying of days.

From the moment the attorneys opened the doors, it’s been the most challenging and rewarding experience of my 30+ year career and I’m honored and proud to not only work here, but to nominate Ledger Square Law, P.S. for Firm of the Year.

Jason Whalen Announces Campaign for Reelection to Lakewood City Council

Jason Whalen

Jason Whalen has announced his campaign for reelection to the Lakewood City Council.

Deputy Mayor Whalen has served on the City Council since 2010. He represents Lakewood on the Pierce County Regional Council, is a member of the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County, and serves as the Council’s liaison to Lakewood’s Arts Commission. He is a member of the Pierce College Foundation Board, Lakewood Rotary, and is a Senior Fellow of the American Leadership Forum.

An Army veteran, Whalen served as a field artillery officer in Bamberg, Germany, from 1986 to 1989 before returning home to attend law school at Gonzaga University. Since 1993, Whalen has been in private practice, focusing on real estate, business, and employment-related litigation.

“I am proud of the progress we have made as a community over these past few years. Our budget is balanced with no reduction in services. Public safety has improved significantly. We remain focused on economic development with sound infrastructure investment in street and park improvements. Between 2017 to 2022, the city will invest more than $56 million in 43 transportation projects that will sustain and improve our economic vitality and quality of life. Funding totaling $3.4 million is allocated in support of numerous park improvement projects in 2017-18. And–we still invest 1% of our general fund (approximately $355,000 in 2017) in human services, including access to health, emotional support, and housing assistance. While much has been accomplished, much remains to be done. I look forward to working with my fellow Council members, our many community volunteers, and our residents to continue Lakewood’s progress over these next four years.”

Jason can be reached at 253-606-4937, jason@ledgersquarelaw.com, or jason@whalen4lakewood.com.

Stuart C. Morgan Receives Premier 100 Designation from National Academy of Jurisprudence

The National Academy of Jurisprudence (NAJ) has recently recognized Stuart C. Morgan as one of 100 premier trial attorneys in the state of WA. This is a distinction reserved for attorneys who have established themselves through their professionalism and excellence in service.

Membership into NAJ’s Premier 100 requires the satisfaction of stringent criteria and standards as established by the NAJ’s Board of Directors. Less than 1% of the 1.2 million attorneys currently practicing in the U.S. will be selected to receive this important and prestigious designation. Criteria for membership may include, but is not limited to, the following:

• An individual attorney’s commitment to ethics and professionalism
• Notable verdicts, achievements or settlements
• Board Certified Specialization as designated by the State Bar or other leading organization
• Nominations from the Board of Directors, industry leading trial attorneys, and existing Premier 100 Trial Attorney membership
• Membership and executive positions held within state trial attorney organizations or other leading organizations
• Any Current ratings or ranking profiles as identified by reputable and credible online or local evaluations

Stuart C. Morgan has been licensed since 1996 and focuses on trust and estate litigation, commercial litigation, wrongful death and serious personal injury matters. He has been recognized for his commitment to providing excellent representation for clients both inside and outside of the courtroom.

Ledger Square Lawyers Defend Business Community Against Government Overreach

Ledger Square Lawyer Jason Whalen represented the Economic Development Board for Tacoma-Pierce County in a joint rebuke of the State of Washington’s misguided effort to sanction the EDB, Port of Tacoma, and the Chamber of Commerce for purported violations of the State’s campaign finance disclosure law, following their successful, joint litigation against the facially invalid local ballot propositions promulgated by Save Tacoma Water citizens.

Concluding that the State’s campaign finance disclosure law did not require the EDB, Port or Chamber to report, as independent expenditures, their legal fees incurred in seeking judicial review of the local ballot propositions, Pierce County Superior Court Judge Ron Culpepper granted the EDB/Port/Chamber motions for summary judgment, dismissing all claims brought by the State of Washington.   Ledger Square Law will now seek reimbursement of its reasonable attorneys’ fees incurred, as authorized by statute. 

Ledger Square Law Salutes 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellow and Tacoma Native Michael Vlahovich

Drew Perine/The News Tribune

Enjoying a sunny Tacoma afternoon aboard the Commencement, the lawyers and staff of
Ledger Square Law toasted the success of Mike Vlahovich, a 2016 NEA National Heritage Fellow.  Born in Tacoma to Croatian immigrants, Mike is a master shipwright and third-Drew Perine/The News Tribunegeneration fisherman who has dedicated his life’s work to the preservation of the heritage of fisheries of the Northwest and the Chesapeake Bay.   During an afternoon outing, Mike provided Ledger Square lawyers and staff a wonderful opportunity to learn more about the Coastal Heritage Alliance, www.coastalheritage.org.  Ledger Square Law salutes Mike and his tremendous accomplishment!

Photos: Drew Perine / The News Tribune

Ledger Square Law Helps Dunk Unlawful Local Initiatives Sponsored by Save Tacoma Water

Clock Tower Tacoma

Seeking to influence the administration of water rights for future development,  a group of concerned Tacoma citizens (organized as “Save Tacoma Water” or STW) sought to place local initiatives on the ballot to amend Tacoma City Code and the Tacoma City Charter to require a public vote for any future water use application exceeding one million gallons per day (“STW Initiatives”).  Because the proposed STW Initiatives were facially invalid under established state law, Ledger Square Law attorney Jason Whalen, representing member investors of the Economic Development Board of Tacoma-Pierce County, teamed with attorneys representing the City of Tacoma, the Port of Tacoma, and the Tacoma-Pierce County Chamber of Commerce (collectively, as Plaintiffs), to score a significant legal victory which sustains the rule of law regarding appropriate, pre-ballot court review of local citizen initiatives.  Today’s ruling provides certainty for the Port of Tacoma, the EDB, and the Chamber over the City’s administration of water and water rights for prudent economic development in our community.   The ruling also saves the citizens of Tacoma thousands of dollars in unnecessary expense in placing unlawful measures on the ballot.

After significant briefing and lengthy oral argument, the Pierce County Superior Court Judge Jack Nevin granted Plaintiffs declaratory and permanent injunctive relief, finding that the STW Initiatives, as written, exceeded the permissible scope of local initiative power and were therefore invalid, as a matter of law.  By court order, the STW Initiatives are now precluded from placement on the November 2016 ballot—or any other ballot in the future, regardless of the signature validation by the County Auditor. 

The Court’s ruling properly relied upon the Washington Supreme Court’s recent decision in Spokane Entrepreneurial Center v. Spokane Moves to Amend Constitution, 185 Wn.2d 97 (2016), in holding the STW Initiatives legally invalid.

Changes To Wage and Overtime Laws Take Effect December 1, 2016

Wage laws change December 1st, 2016

Wage and overtime laws are changing once again. In May 2016, the U.S. Department of Labor announced its Final Rule updating the overtime provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act. The Final Rule takes effect December 1, 2016, and will update the minimum salary level every three years for the executive, administrative, and professional employees exemption.  Key provisions of the Final Rule are:

  1. The minimum standard salary increased from $23,660 to $47,476 annually (from $455 to $913 per week), which is the current salary level at the 40th percentile of earnings of full-time salaried workers in the lowest-wage Census Region – which is currently the South.
  2. The minimum annual compensation requirement for highly compensated employees increased from $100,000 to $134,004, which is the annual equivalent of the 90th percentile of full-time salaried workers nationally.
  3. The salary and compensation levels will be automatically updated every three years to maintain the levels at the above percentiles.  The initial salary increases take effect on December 1, 2016, and the first update will occur on January 1, 2020.
  4. Employers may now use non-discretionary bonuses and incentive payments (including commissions) to satisfy up to 10 percent of the new standard salary level. Payments must be paid on a quarterly or more frequent basis.
  5. The Final Rule makes no changes to the duties tests for highly compensated employees or employees under the executive, administrative or professional exemption.

All employers should review their handbooks and polices to ensure they are consistent with applicable law. Changes to the foregoing wage and overtime laws take effect December 1, 2016. If you have any questions or concerns regarding employee overtime or any other employment issues, please call us at Ledger Square Law.

Marsha Reidburn Receives Award of Excellence at 51st Bosses Night

On Friday, March 11th, NALS of Pierce County held their 51st Bosses Night at the Tacoma Yacht Club as our way of thanking the legal community of Pierce County for their support throughout the year.  We invite members from the bench, the bar, and everyone working in the legal field to attend.  One of the things that NALS of Pierce County asks for is nominations from the legal community for the Boss of the Year, Award of Excellence, Firm of the Year, and Outstanding Community Service.  This year Marsha Reidburn was the recipient of the Award of Excellence.  Here is the nomination I provided to NALS of Pierce County:

 I’ve worked with a lot of different people, but there’s one that I’ve worked with for the 15 months that takes the cake!    She’s been in the legal field since, I think,  the ‘80s doing all kinds of things from legal assistant to paralegal to court reporter.

Let me give you a little background:

 In the Fall of 2014 I was informed by my attorneys that they’d be leaving the high-rise firm that we were all currently working for and were starting their own firm with two of their partners.  I’d never worked with these two partners (shoot, one of them I don’t think I’d ever set eyes on since I worked on a different floor).  I’d met their assistant, but had never worked with her. 

 

Fast forward to January 2015 when we opened the doors to the new firm – me and my two attorneys and the other two partners and their assistant.  That first day, everything is new, down to the software programs and telephones.  Between the insanity of not knowing how to get the copier to work, setting up telephone systems, looking at the postage machine and thinking “oh s@@@,” and seeing all the paper we brought over to convert to our new paperless system – she did it all with a smile and the most refreshing sense of humor! 

 

One of my all-time favorite memories was the day she not only figured out how to PRINT a letter AND the envelope – then put postage on it!  There were high fives, singing and dancing!  There are so many more stories that I could tell, but I don’t have time to write that book and you don’t have time to read it.

 

I asked one of the partners what she’d say about her assistant in a nutshell:

 

She is the best legal assistant I’ve ever had – which means a lot, since she’s primarily been my only assistant since I began practicing law nearly 20 years ago.  Of course, she does all the things that good legal assistants do – from filing and keeping me organized to drafting and revising documents even when she can’t possibly read my handwriting or understand my rambling dictation to dealing with difficult clients and keeping them away from me!  And, she does it with a smile on her face. I truly value her for more than our working relationship; she truly is a friend.  I am pleased to nominate her for this award for which she so richly deserves.  

 

Now that we’re into our second year, there’s no one that I’d have rather had at my side getting this firm up and running.  It is with great pride that I nominate Marsha Reidburn for the Award of Excellence.  I honestly couldn’t imagine doing this without her!