BY DIANE LOURDES DICK
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Q. What is the most valuable benefit members get from joining your Section that they can’t get anywhere else?
We often think of business law as private law, and in the day-to-day work of drafting instruments and agreements and helping to resolve disputes between private actors, it’s easy to lose sight of how we can help to reform the laws, policies, and procedures that govern our practice area. The WSBA’s Business Law Section, through its various committees, serves at this intersection. For instance, we have committees that monitor state and national developments and recommend revisions to our state business entity laws. Committee representatives even travel down to the state Legislature to explain the recommendations and answer questions. We also have committees that develop guidelines and resources for attorneys working in niche areas that implicate highly technical local, state, and even national laws. Members of the Section benefit from the exchange of ideas and information, and also have the opportunity to serve on these committees and help to refine and even reshape the practice.
Q. What is a recent Section accomplishment or current project that you are excited about?
It’s hard to name just one—there have been so many exciting projects that the various committees have worked on in recent years. But one that comes to mind right away, since I had the privilege of working on it, is the comprehensive legal opinion report (entitled Amended and Restated Report on Third-Party Legal Opinion Practice in the State of Washington) Display footnote number: 1 recently completed by the Section’s Legal Opinions Committee. The report integrates, amends, and restates the Committee’s 1998 and 2000 reports. It contains an illustrative form of opinion letter and detailed footnotes that explain the procedures Washington opinion givers customarily follow when conducting the factual and legal investigations required to support their opinions, as well as the customary meaning of language typically used in opinion letters. The report is an incredibly useful resource for attorneys giving and receiving legal opinions in Washington and, in my opinion, should be considered required reading for anyone starting out as a transactional lawyer in our state.
Q. What opportunities does your Section provide for members who are looking for a mentor or for somebody to mentor?
Personally, I think committee service is one of the best ways to find and cultivate valuable mentoring relationships. Working alongside others on a project is such a great way to develop deep and meaningful connections. But there are so many other great ways to meet people. Obviously, COVID-19 has impacted opportunities for in-person networking, but we host a variety of programs that offer meaningful opportunities to meet and connect with others. We also have an active list serve.
Q. What advice do you have for building a successful practice in the area of law related to your Section and how does membership in your Section help do that?
The most successful business lawyers I know work to cultivate a deep understanding of legal developments, both here in our state and nationally. They also seem to really love what they do, which always helps!
Q. In addition to membership in your Section, what are the best ways to stay up on the developing law in this practice area?
I try to read as many industry publications and legal blogs as possible in my areas of interest. And, of course, there’s no substitute for just reaching out and connecting with other lawyers in your practice area, even if just by email.
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The Section membership year is Jan. 1 – Dec. 31. For more information and to join the Business Law Section, or any other Section, visit https://wsba.org/legal-community/sections/sections.