I was born in 1952 and lived my early life in Omaha , Nebraska . In 1963 my family moved to southern Oregon , where I attended Catholic elementary and high school, graduating in 1971 from St. Mary’s High School in Medford . From an early age, from dealing with playground bullies to playing on State Championship football teams in 1969 and 1970, I came to know that dealing with injustice in all its forms, and righting wrongs as I saw them, wasn’t just something I wanted to do. It was something I had to do. I think I was made for it.
This made the law and all the skills, sacrifice and balance necessary to bring the law to bear in dealings between people an obvious career path, but it’s taken time to learn exactly what that means in practical terms. What it should actually mean to hold yourself out to the world as an “attorney and counselor” is in my view perhaps different than what others may mean by that label, and the label as I use it doesn’t always fit our society’s image of that job description. That distinction makes the history of my journey into the law something a prospective client should know and understand when making a choice for an attorney and counselor.
How I define the term "attorney and counselor" is something a client needs to know or the relationship won’t work, or at least won’t work well. Therefore, the nuts and bolts of a short history should be helpful. Here it is:
1952-1971: I lived a happy childhood and lived in big cities and in truly rural areas of the post-WWII America , from the Midwest to the Pacific Northwest . I enjoyed a good private education and learned the value of a hard day’s work early in life, from farms, lumber mills, manufacturing jobs and pear orchards, to sports fields, debate teams, student politics, and Country Club proms. I became a child of the 60's in some respects, as most of us of that age at the time did. However, I never really left my roots and the drive to right all wrongs, as I naively defined those terms, until leaving home for college and what followed.
1971-1975: What followed was Oregon State University and the University of Oregon, interspersed with bouts of long hair, living sometimes hand to mouth and with time on the road “to find myself”, again as so many of that age at that time did. I made a hard landing from that flirtation with intellectual flight when I volunteered for the U.S. Marine Corps in 1973. I then served two years on active duty, and four in reserve, leaving active duty with an Honorable Discharge as a Sergeant in the Marines in late 1975.
I excelled in the Marines and took all the schooling they could give me, ultimately serving in the primary military occupational specialty of General and Special Court Martial Reporter for the First Marine Division. There I attained the rank of Sergeant and reported trials as a court reporter in civilian courts does, in person, every day of every trial to which I was assigned. I then transcribed each of those trials, the general courts-martial being transcribed verbatim. In this way I reported and transcribed hundreds of what civilian courts would call felony cases of the most serious kind, under the rules of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. While a non-commissioned officer, I had the opportunity to work at times in a military police capacity. The two years active duty spent in this way, seven days a week, 24 hours a day, only whet my appetite for more of the law. This experience began to give form and shape to the idea of what it might be to actually be worthy to be called an attorney and counselor, since some of the best lawyers and judges I've known I first met in the Marine Corps.
1975-1979: While attending the University of Oregon in Eugene at times with a major in Political Science, I was hired by the City of Springfield, Oregon, as a full time police officer in their 60 officer municipal police department. I attended and graduated with honors from the Oregon Police Academy at Monmouth , Oregon in 1977 and gave the commencement address as my class’s student representative at commencement ceremonies. The keynote address was given by the then-Chief of Police for the City of Portland Police Bureau . My topic was a bit unconventional: why we should as police officers use our discretionary authority to enforce criminal law by making a distinction between freedom “from” and freedom “for”. More simply put, I asked the rhetorical question why just because we can do a thing, it should necessarily follow that we must...or even should...do that thing.
Thinking about the “why” in making the choice to enforce law, then as now, seemed to me to be far more important than the "what", exactly, law was on the books, or how it was then conventionally applied. In making this distinction I was, however imperfectly, giving voice to John F. Kennedy’s more perfect articulation of the same principle. I believe it was Kennedy who made famous in substance the notion that “Some men consider the past and ask ‘why’. I think of things which never were, and ask ‘why not’. " Or words to that effect.
In making this distinction and then serving as a police officer first with the City of Springfield, then with a rural Oregon County Sheriff’s office, I became dissatisfied with the limitations inherent in enforcing criminal law only, since an ounce of prevention is usually worth a pound of cure. That prompted me to quit to attend law school full time, and find out just what this thing called the law was, and what purpose the law...and therefore attorneys and counselors...really served.
This inevitably led to developing opinions about whose purposes the law now served, and to what ends the law should serve us all.
1979-1982: I attended the University of Oregon full time January 1979 through August, 1979, averaging 24 credit hours per quarter, Winter, Spring and Summer quarters of that academic year. I did this in such a short time in order to finish with a Bachelor of Science Degree in Political Science in time to qualify to attend the University School of Law full time, to which I had received a qualified admission earlier that year. The qualification was that I finish that number of courses while maintaining the grade point average I held at the time of qualified admission. I made it in time, I attended law school full time, except for summers, from late August 1979 through May, 1982.
During law school from February 1980 onward I worked either part time or full time as a law clerk and legal research assistant for the private law firm of Jaqua & Wheatley, P.C., in Eugene. After graduation I passed the Oregon Bar examination and was hired by that firm full time as an attorney. I worked full time as an associate at Jaqua & Wheatley from the time of my admission to the Bar, through December, 1985.
During this time I had the rare privilege and honor of working for two men, John E. Jaqua and William G. Wheatley, who were both former presidents of the Oregon State Bar Association, co-founders of the firm. They were and are probably the two best examples of what an attorney and counselor of the law should be, and at least they are certainly the best I have ever known in over 30 years of continuous law practice. The practice focused exclusively during that time on civil matters only, both transactions and litigation, with an emphasis for a period of years first on insurance defense, then increasingly on complex civil litigation, both Plaintiff and Defense. My mentors entrusted me and sometimes as many as ten or so other lawyers, and a large staff of assistants, with responsibility for all aspects of negotiation, litigation, trials, hearings, appeals, drafting, interviewing and all aspects of interpersonal relations which comprise the civil legal process. Their clientele and therefore mine included some of America's biggest corporations, insurance companies, manufacturing interests, public bodies and old time Oregon business interests, among many others. The exposure to this level of practice and the quality of this clientele exposed me to all levels of lawyering and every kind of lawyer, good and bad. From that experience, it was difficult not to learn what was good and what was bad about how the system worked, and what a true lawyer and counselor could achieve for his clients if his perspective on the law was focused properly.
Due to my police background and contacts, I gravitated toward cases which played to the strengths of that background as well, both before and after Jaqua & Wheatley, I developed a clientele of State and Federal police and intelligence officers whose interests, both personal and professional, were often overlooked by collective bargaining units and other organizations whose civil legal interests were often political rather than law-based. I found those collective interests of, say, a union, sometimes diverged from the personal interests and well-being of those charged with society’s protection. This in turn led to a background in administrative legal proceedings which often had a bearing on claims of civil wrong levied against police and intelligence officers. Those claims I also found were often made with impunity by people or businesses who were playing the legal system for personal or political gain. Sometimes the abuse came by those either too naive or too self-interested to fully appreciate that of all of us in this society, those who risk their life, liberty and own personal pursuit of happiness--police officers and some Federal agents-- are often the least protected of all by our civil legal system.
Because this clientele had all the personal, business and family issues we all do, I became not only an attorney with some expertise in the field of law enforcement and real-world law enforcement of other kinds, but a counselor to those same people and their families. “Protecting the Protectors” became a theme in my practice as a result, and this in turn naturally led me away from big firm practice, and toward a more intimate and personal type of practice, which in turn evolved into my own firm.
1986-2009: I ran my own law firm as a professional corporation, sometimes with up to three or four attorneys working as employees or independent contractors and a similar number of investigators, paralegals and other assistants, and for seven years in the late 90's through 2003 in a non-partnership professional association with a long time colleague and experienced attorney and academic historian in his own right, Patrick J. Kelly of Grants Pass, Oregon. His practice emphasized secured land and private lending transactions and litigation flowing from the legal relationships attendant to such a practice. However, in time travel between two offices separated by nearly 150 miles and covering half the State of Oregon proved more involved than a solo country lawyer might choose. Therefore, in 2007 I began to scale back, ultimately closing my Country Club Road office in Eugene in 2009, dissolving my professional corporation, and setting in motion what has become an exclusively home-based law practice from the banks of our home on the McKenzie River in rural eastern Lane County.
2009-present: Private practice evolved into one including individuals, small business, larger business entities, complex civil litigation and transactions in State and Federal Courts, and administrative law and advocacy before State and Federal agencies charged with licensing and discipline of police officers, intelligence officers, real estate professionals, contractors and builders. I took the occasional governmental contract work in the fields of real estate, and land use, and for a time have served as special counsel to Oregon counties in selected matters. At times our cases involve abuse of public contracting, business buy-sell agreements, and occasional estate-related litigation and land title or boundary disputes. I refer to well known lawyers with expertise in narrow but important fields such as taxation, worker's compensation or intellectual property matters, while remaining associated as co-counsel in such cases when it is in the client's interests to do so. In this way I've appeared in U.S. District Court at times as local counsel with attorneys representing national or international business interests or media whose interests cross state or national boundaries, but refer the narrow expert work such as Patent law and related intellectual property disputes to a true expert. In this way the client's interests are best served while an ongoing attorney/client relationship with our office is maintained.
We are able to and engage in complex contract negotiation and drafting on a variety of subjects, from complex release agreements to the simplest types of form practice, ranging from powers of attorney, gifting and health care issues, to simple wills, corporations and related small business licensing and related matters.