Labor Ready

Ron Knox keeps his calm despite the economic forecast

Published in 2009 Washington Super Lawyers Magazine

Ron Knox is a source of calm for jittery clients dealing with the economic storm.

"You are having more people getting into disputes because jobs are shrinking; wages are not as robust as they have been in the past," says Knox, who primarily represents employers but also the occasional individual employee. "Employees are seeking out unions in an effort to get some kind of security. On the senior management level, you have people just being let go, laid off, coming to me to find out how they can navigate that."

Negotiating satisfying solutions to complex labor and employment issues is Knox's true comfort zone. "I like being in the middle; I find it a very comfortable and satisfying place to be," says the 53-year-old partner with Garvey Schubert Barer.

Outside the office, Knox nurtures a creative side that couldn't be further from the turmoil of his law practice. A collector of varied wines (Bordeaux vineyard Château d'Yquem and Snohomish vintner Quilceda Creek are two favorites), he also collects mostly modern art and takes landscape and nature photos while hiking ("I particularly like going to New Mexico, where the light is completely different").

Another after-hours outlet is the love of cooking he inherited from his mother. Paella is one of his favorite experimental dishes. "I love the many, many ways you can make it; it allows me to be creative," he says.

His patience and attention to detail serve him well in both his hobbies and career. What started out nearly three decades ago as a labor and employment practice has expanded to employment arbitration and mediation.

"I love working with people and helping resolve issues," says Knox, father of three college-age kids. "There are ways that you advocate that produce resolution."

Knox also mentors younger attorneys and law school grads. A past chair and current board member of the Washington State Bar Leadership Institute, he helps young lawyers develop leadership skills and reach their potential as leaders in the Bar and their communities.

The recession has made Knox's job more challenging, with tightly wound clients making for tenser discussions and with more people coming to him with labor-force issues. "Between negotiation of new labor contracts, advising clients about reductions in their workforces, negotiation of severance—all of those are making my practice pretty interesting and pretty difficult," he says. "People are trying to look at any way to save their positions. It's understandable."

Fortunately, Knox can always turn to the relative zen of his hobbies to recharge.

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