How Andy Maron pursued a path in both government and construction law
Published in 2010 Washington Super Lawyers magazine on May 27, 2010
Andy Maron’s list of professional experience is lengthy: He’s served as an Army lawyer—both prosecution and defense—practiced government and construction law; and spent nearly a decade on the Bainbridge Island City Council, including a stint as the town’s interim mayor.
And oh, yes, he’s ridden in the sewer truck for the Bainbridge Fourth of July parade.
Though he hadn’t planned to participate in the parade (he was interim mayor for only six months in 1997), it took only one sentence from the mayor’s secretary to get him to jump on board: “You have an obligation to the community to be in the parade.”
Never one to shirk his civic duties, Maron agreed—on condition that he and the city administrator could ride in a piece of city machinery. They wrangled a Vactor sewer truck (the kind that sucks out the sewer pipes), complete with the City of Bainbridge Island decal emblazoned on the side.
“It’s a monster machine,” Maron recalls fondly. “Riding down between the marching band, the Little League and the local rope-skippers, that was fun.”
Maron’s interest in government and community started at a young age. At Taft High School in Woodland Hills, Calif., Maron was on the student council and served as student body vice president.
Even then, he believed that work should be balanced with civic involvement. “If you can do that,” he says, “it’s so much more satisfying.”
In 1967, Maron graduated from West Point with a bachelor of science degree, followed by four years as an officer. At that point, he decided it was time for a career switch.
“I enjoyed being an infantry officer, and I’d served in the States and overseas, but I thought I wanted to be a lawyer,” he says. He took a leave of absence to earn his J.D. from the University of South Carolina and returned to the Army for four years in the JAG Corps. At posts in Virginia and Washington, he practiced criminal law, first as a prosecutor, and later as a defense lawyer.
“You can see the need for both,” he says. “You can see the need for the commanders to have a disciplinary system that functions well, but you can also see the need for procedure protections and advocates for those soldiers who are, for whatever reason, running into trouble.”
The issues Maron dealt with ran the gamut: “I had cases span from serious cases, like rape and murder and robbery, to uniquely military cases, such as AWOL and disobeying an order to get a haircut.”
In 1978, after 11 years of active duty all over the world, Maron and his wife, Sallie, decided it was time to settle down with their five children. Still, he went on to spend 15 years in the Reserves, including time as a military judge, while practicing law, finally retiring from the Army in 1994 with a rank of colonel.
They put roots down in Washington state, where Maron had been stationed at Fort Lewis. He found Short Cressman & Burgess, and he’s been there ever since.
He never planned on practicing in the construction industry, but the firm had a number of construction clients, and Maron was a perfect fit. “At West Point I took a lot of engineering courses, so I have a background that matches,” he notes. “I found I really enjoy construction work. I enjoy the people in the construction industry, I enjoy the legal challenges that you find in the construction industry, and then I just enjoy the engineering and practicality of building things, whatever they are.”
Today, 60 percent of his practice is dedicated to construction law. His cases often take a lot of time to resolve. “That was actually an adjustment for me when I left the Army,” he says. “The criminal cases are typically over in three to six months. Civil matters, particularly involving construction disputes, take oftentimes years.
“You almost become a detective.”
In one case, a construction company ran a video camera through a sewer pipe under Lake Washington to search for problems, not so different from a medical procedure to look inside veins.
“I remember looking at a video tape of the inside of a sewer pipe, taking it home to my wife and laughing, ‘Look, do you want to see the inside of a sewer pipe?’” says Maron, whose wife just rolled her eyes.
For now, Maron is taking a break from politics because of the time commitment of his law practice, but he won’t rule out future involvement. “I think a certain aspect of everyone’s life ought to be contributing to the community in whatever way, and I choose to do that in some kind of governmental role. Others do it in their church or in the Little League or local theater group or whatever,” says Maron. “We all need that.”
“The key is somehow to continually get a balance between the practice of law,” he says, “[and] providing some side of community contribution. … As a lawyer, I’ve found you can do both pretty well. Sometimes you get a little off kilter, but usually you can do it pretty well.”