Beyond the Bar Number – Ralph W. Flick

Ralph W. Flick


I am a 1994 graduate of Loyola Law School in Los Angeles and—after a more than 20-year corporate transactional career as an in-house lawyer, at a large law firm, and as a solo practitioner—I am now a professor at Pacific Lutheran University, where I teach business law and human resources.

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If you could change one thing about the legal system, what would you change? I wish that it did not favor those with extra resources as much as it does. I talk with my students frequently about the disadvantage that many small businesses face when competing with large, well-funded companies in legal matters. I’m not exactly sure how to solve this problem but I would like to see a more level playing field for businesses and nonprofits of all sizes.

How did you become interested in your practice area? I was always interested in corporate transactions. I was an economics major in college and I was involved in family businesses from a young age. In retrospect, I should have pursued my MBA before my J.D., or a J.D./MBA program, because I have always been more interested in business than law. As it turns out, I earned my MBA 10 years after my J.D. and I really loved the study of business.

As a professor, what is one thing you hope your students take away from your classes? My approach to teaching business law is not necessarily to teach students how to be lawyers (although I do try to expose them to legal analysis and reasoning). Rather, my students are studying for an undergraduate degree in business or an MBA. What I want them to learn is how to make good risk decisions for their firms and take into account the reality of legal risk.

What is your best piece of advice for someone who’s just entered law school? At least when I was in law school, there was not much focus on building a professional network while in school. I think that every 1L should have a LinkedIn page and should be reaching out to, and building relationships with, as many practicing lawyers as possible. While job placement in the law is largely defined by the rank of the school and the student’s rank in the class, in all but one case in my career my jobs were the direct result of personal relationships.

How did you get into sailing? I have been interested in it since moving to Gig Harbor 12 years ago, but it was a trip to the San Juan Islands with my son in 2018 and a half-day sail with a charter captain that hooked me. I immediately took lessons and bought a boat and I go out as often as I can. There is something magical about powering the boat almost exclusively from the wind (I can sail for an entire day and run my motor only for the five minutes it takes to get out of and then back into the marina). I like to sail to Blake Island from my marina in Port Orchard and stay the night.

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Ralph Flick


If you had to give a 10-minute presentation on one topic other than the law, what would it be and why? The basics of business finance—too many business owners and managers, in my experience, do not understand their own financial statements.

What did you eat for breakfast this morning? Scrambled eggs, sausage, and toast.

What is one thing your colleagues may not know about you? I was the presiding juror on a 2016 Pierce County murder trial.

What is your favorite smell? The Christmas tree.

What is your favorite word? Not suitable for print.

What is your favorite podcast? “Fresh Air” with Terry Gross.

What book have you read more than once? Make the Rules or Your Rivals Will, by G. Richard Shell.

What is the last thing you watched on television? A Mariners baseball game.

What did you think was cool when you were younger that makes you cringe to think about now? The movie Wall Street.