About David Volk

David Volk Articles written 8

Articles written by David Volk

In This Case, It’s No Cliché

Michael Nelson really does feel his clients' pain: He recovered from a brain injury himself

Michael Nelson never saw what hit him. One minute the college sophomore was happily driving down Interstate-90 after a ski trip; "the next thing I remember it was three weeks later." His Volkswagen Bug's head-on collision in 1970 with a drunk driver behind the wheel of a pickup camper not only left him with brain and orthopedic injuries, it also set the course of his legal career. Forty years later, the personal injury attorney at Nelson Langer Engle has become known for his unique market …

The Accidental Entertainment Lawyer

O. Yale Lewis Jr. may not love rock-'n'-roll, but musicians find him irresistible

When you think rock-'n'-roll lawyer, O. Yale Lewis Jr. probably isn't the first guy who comes to mind. He prefers classical tunes, doesn't follow popular music and never goes to concerts. Yet the 68-year-old intellectual property attorney at Seattle's Hendricks & Lewis has become a go-to guy for music-industry types who have copyright cases but don't trust Hollywood insiders. Even Lewis is a bit mystified. Although his clients have included Courtney Love, Anita Baker and radio hostess …

Behind the Scenes (Not So Much)

Catherine Smith planned to spend her career at her desk. She ended up at the U.S. Supreme Court

If ever there was an attorney you could imagine coming from Garrison Keillor’s mythical town of Lake Wobegon, Catherine Wright Smith would be it.  Listeners of A Prairie Home Companion know the fictional Minnesota town is filled with modest people in modest clothes who do extraordinary things but would never own up to it. Unlike her Wobegon soulmates, the shy-at-heart appellate attorney doesn’t need Powdermilk Biscuits for the “strength to get up and do what needs to be done.” Smith, …

Of Loofahs and (Alleged) Lechery

Igor Keller: turning lawsuits into opera

Every generation, it seems, has a classic stage production about dramatic legal proceedings. In the 1950s there was Twelve Angry Men. In the 1980s it was A Few Good Men. And in the 21st century, a local composer has his own bid for the pantheon of great legal dramas. Granted, Belltown resident Igor Keller’s show may center on loofahs, falafel and Fox News Channel talk-show host Bill O’Reilly’s alleged sexual harassment of an employee, but what do you want? It’s only seven years into the …

Glass Act

Karen Sutherland’s artistic muse goes to work on weekends

It almost seems as though the art of glassblowing were created by a bunch of dirty old men. The terminology—right down to “paddling the bottom” of a vase—is hardly politically correct. They are odd words to hear, coming from an employment attorney who’s seen all kinds of misbehavior: sexual harassment and discrimination, misuse of computers, even selling stolen work supplies on Ebay.  That’s all forgotten as she uses the end of a 4-foot-long pipe to pick up molten glass and heat …

Will Ride for Charity

Steve Fitzer will beg, borrow  and bicycle to help kids

Steve Fitzer would not fit most people’s image of a competitive bicycle rider. The sandy-haired, 6-foot-2-inch Tacoma malpractice defense attorney at Burgess Fitzer has a bit of a paunch and readily admits he’s no Lance Armstrong. Still, he’s an eight-time winner of the annual three-day, 180-mile Courage Classic. That’s no mean feat, considering the steep course goes over Snoqualmie, Blewett and Stevens passes, all in one long weekend.  He doesn’t do it by relying on steroids. The …

The Guitar Man

For Dawson Taylor, every day is take-your-guitar-to-work day

Tax attorney Dawson Taylor prefers a very basic desk chair.  “You can’t play your guitar in a chair that has arms on it,” explains Taylor, who works at Cairncross & Hempelmann in Seattle.  While most lawyers have to go home to engage in their hobbies, Taylor often strums on his Aria classical guitar between appointments or while on hold on the phone. In fact, posted on his office door is a month’s schedule of scales he plans to practice.  Taylor grew up in a musical home. His …

Arts Smarts

How Robert Cumbow got the seat of honor

The next time you go to a Northwest Film Forum screening, you might end up sitting on Robert Cumbow, but he doesn’t mind. In fact, he’ll be downright honored. That’s because Washington Lawyers for the Arts put him there. To be more precise, a plaque bearing his name will be placed on a seat in the theater.  “It’s kind of cool,” says Cumbow, 60. “I think people will see it and read it and think, ‘Who is he?’ but that’s okay.” The organization is naming a new award for him, …

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