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Article: “Maybe a Guy Like You Could Never Work for a Firm Like Ours”

Posted on: 28 Dec 2021

2021 marked the 20th anniversary of Possinger Law Group’s founding. Our law firm and certain members of our community have spent the past 12 months reflecting on those two decades, and what they have meant to us. Our founder, Jeffrey Possinger in particular has used this past year to identify certain themes and recall specific experiences that have influenced him throughout his legal career. This article, written by Possinger, details an experience that not only shaped him as a professional, but also contributed to the founding of Possinger Law Group in 2001. I have told this story a few times to several people over the last twenty years, but with 2021 being the twentieth anniversary of my law firm, it seemed that now would be a good time to share this with a broader audience – perhaps most importantly with law students or young professionals early in their careers. Beginning in my second year of law school, I began the process of informational interviews at different larger law firms around the Seattle area and the Eastside. It was the height of what would become the “dot-com bubble” and Seattle was a hotbed of start-up companies that were pursuing the dream that the expanding Internet seemed to offer. I would send out my résumé and schedule one-on-one meetings with partners and various senior associates, trying to learn all that I could about the firm, while also seeking employment opportunities. Competition for any available positions was fierce, and I was not your typical law student, failing to meet many of the implicit “requirements” for working in one of these firms: Going to a big-name school, being in the top 5% – 10% of the class, or being on Moot Court and Law Review – the list could go on. Even though I eventually graduated with honors from law school, I lacked these expected minimum credentials to even be given the opportunity to interview at one of these firms. The process was as much discouraging as it was exhausting, despite my unflagging ambitiousness. I wanted to work in a firm doing business transactions, and in my mind at the time, this was the only way that I could meet that goal, by working at one of Seattle’s larger law firms. During one of these occasions with a large and well-known firm (whose name I will not disclose), I met with a junior partner (another name that I will not reveal) who worked in mergers and acquisitions. During the interview, we discussed the firm, his area of practice, my aspirations in the field, as well as my experience and work history. As he looked over my résumé, he commented that I was not on Law Review, as well as not being in the top 10% of my class.  It didn’t matter that I demonstrated a strong work ethic, that I had overcome a number of significant obstacles, or that I possessed numerous relatable skills and experiences for the role. Lacking the “requirements”, it seemed clear that I stood no chance at getting a real interview, much less a job offer. Undaunted by this, I asked about other ways to demonstrate my value to a firm like this, or to take steps to be laterally hired. In response, he said to me: “You know, it’s really the case that a guy like you could never work for a firm like ours.” A long and uncomfortable silence followed, as his statement hung in the air. Stunned, I didn’t know what to say. Either realizing the harshness of his delivery, or reading the expression on my face, the silence was finally broken by his attempts to walk back the statement a little and to provide some well-meaning career advice. And yet, he had been speaking truthfully. The interview quickly wrapped up, and I left the Seattle high rise building, clinging tightly to my cheap attaché case along with the last shreds of my dignity. Only a few months after that interview, the dot-com bubble burst. During the period between when I graduated from law school, took the bar exam, and received the notification that I had passed, the entire industry that I had intended to enter and be a part of had imploded. In the six months before I took my bar exam, if you had a pulse, you had a job. Six months afterwards, people who had been with law firms for a decade were scrambling for work, and most were willing to take almost any available positions. That economic tumult was the business environment in which I founded my own law firm – entirely out of necessity. There was huge risk in doing this, but statistically, continuing on the path I had been on (looking for work in one of the larger law firms) was not turning out to be a safe bet either. Almost symbolically, I burned the nearly 2-inch stack of “form-filled” rejection letters I had received from one law firm after the other and set out on my own. Friends and family were some of my first clients, and I took on all sorts of crazy cases just to keep the lights on, nothing I had expected when I had started down the path to a legal career. That was 20 years ago, and a lot has happened since then. Since that time, that conversation with the junior partner has all but been forgotten. Yet, there was a moment just a few years ago that brought that conversation back from the recesses of my memory. I was in the process of finishing closing letter on behalf of a client for a business deal with a publicly traded business partner. We had been working on this transaction for nearly 18 months at this point, having had crazy meetings around the United States, countless late-night calls, and months of difficult and complex negotiations. After all the hard work and uncertainty, we were finally ready for signatures from the respective executives. As I finalized the letter, excited about the part that my […]

Artist Feature with Dan Cautrell

Posted on: 24 Nov 2021

Our firm is proud of our regional, national, and international reach, but just as important to Possinger Law Group and its staff are our local roots. Founded in 2001, our firm has spent 20 years building connections to our clients, as well as local businesses and artisans. One of the many ways that we connect with our community is through annual Thanksgiving cards. These cards are sent to clients, colleagues, and other friends of the law firm. We use these cards as an opportunity to wish our community well during the holiday season, and to express our gratitude for their support. However, our community engagement starts long before the mailing process; Possinger Law Group also collaborates with local artists to design and produce our cards. This Thanksgiving season, we are proud to announce that our firm is once again working with Seattle-area artist Dan Cautrell to create the design for our cards. This year’s theme is “The Life of an Acorn”, meant to symbolize internal strength, fortitude, and growth in arduous conditions. We are looking forward to sharing the design with you soon. With a career and impact spanning across the Pacific Northwest, Cautrell credits his experiences attending art school in Southern California with many of his artistic specializations. These include printmaking, linoleum and woodblock printing, wood carving, and most recently, concrete sculpture. Many of Cautrell’s projects are murals and public art projects, so local environments and culture are a central theme throughout his artistic process. “My first inspiration is always the environment. I observe the plants, animals, landscape, and weather of a new area. Then I consider the history, and finally, the people.” Being attuned to the human condition in this way has made Cautrell a strong member of the local community. His pieces are featured as public art works throughout Seattle, with special presence in the Duvall-Woodinville area. He has developed logos for a variety of Seattle-based companies and events, and regularly produces pieces for individual community members and businesses (such as Possinger Law Group’s annual Thanksgiving cards). “I believe the best part of my job is being part of the culture of an area,” Cautrell expressed, adding, “I enjoy using my creative products to interact and unify with others.” Although he has been creating art for over 35 years, this year was particularly impactful for Cautrell as a community member. “I have learned that even in troubling times, art is valued,” he offered. “There is a power in art that can emotionally move people and give them a moment of calm, pleasure, peace. I always knew that this was the case, but art during these times has proven it.” We are proud to be working with Dan Cautrell on our annual Thanksgiving card, and if you would like to make sure you are on our contact list to receive Thanksgiving cards, please reach out to us through our website. Thank you to Dan Cautrell for sharing his insights with us for this piece. Cautrell can be found at his website, www.danielcautrell.com, or you can reach him for inquiries at [email protected]. His Instagram is @dan.cautrell.

Data Privacy Update: Deadline to Adopt New Standard Contractual Clauses is Approaching

Posted on: 01 Sep 2021

Ever since the July 2020 ruling by the Court of Justice of the EU in Schrems II, which invalidated the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, the transfer of personal data from the European Union/European Economic Area (EU/EEA) to the US has been facilitated almost exclusively by integrating the Standard Contractual Clauses to relevant contractual arrangements. The Standard Contractual Clauses are contractual provisions preapproved by the European Commission, which govern how a receiving party (the importer) will handle personal information. These Clauses also impose on the importer certain obligations and requirements to ensure appropriate data protection. On June 4, 2021, the European Commission published new sets of Standard Contractual Clauses to replace the original 2001 Standard Contractual Clauses that had been used to-date. The first set of new Standard Contractual Clauses replaces the original set, relating cross-border data transfers to third countries. These clauses feature more flexibility for complex processing chains, through a ‘modular approach’ (transfers between controller-to-controller, controller-to-processor, processor-to-processor, and processor-to-controller) and by offering the possibility for more than two parties to join and use the clause. In addition to the above-mentioned set of Standard Contractual Clauses, the European Commission also added a second set of clauses. These are composed of entirely new contractual terms between controllers and processors. The intent behind these contractual terms is to set a consistent standard for the relationship between controllers and processors. The new Standard Contractual Clauses provide a more exhaustive and adequate compliance that needs to be integrated to contracts pursuant to the requirements of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) that was adopted in May 2018, and the conclusions of the Court of Justice of the EU in Schrems II. Implementation of the New Standard Contractual Clauses The new Standard Contractual Clauses are in force and have taken effect since June 27, 2021. However, the European Commission has issued a multi-step approach for the implementation of the new Standard Contractual Clauses, as follows: The old Standard Contractual Clauses will still be deemed valid and be used for new agreements that involve data transfers during a three-month transition that started on June 27, and ended on September 27, 2021. Commencing September 27, 2021, all new agreements involving data transfer (from the EU/EEA) will be required to incorporate the new Standard Contractual Clauses. Any agreement that was executed before September 27, 2021, relying on the old Standard Contractual Clauses may continue to be used and regarded as valid until December 27, 2022. Starting December 27, 2022, all the agreements relying on the old Standard Contractual Clauses must be changed or amended to incorporate the new Standard Contractual Clauses. The timeline applies to any downstream subcontracting agreements. Due to the above timeline, Possinger Law Group recommends that clients review their existing agreements involving data transfer from the EU/EEA to determine how they are affected by the new Standard Contractual Clauses, while also identifying what administrative or technical changes may be required in order to remain in compliance. It is highly recommended to hire a professional legal consultant knowledgeable in EU data privacy law to assist with this matter.

Federal Judge Remands Danieli Case to State Superior Court

Posted on: 01 May 2021

Ruling brings some clarity to Miska the Cat’s ongoing case, but the impact of King County’s incorrect action remains. TACOMA, WASHINGTON After its removal and brief presence in the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington, Danieli v. King County, et al. has been remanded to Pierce County Superior Court by federal court Judge Ricardo Martinez, the Chief Judge of the United States District Court for the Western District of Washington. While this ruling brings some clarity to Danieli’s ongoing case, as well as its potential path forward, the Federal Court’s decision does not take away from the plaintiff’s stance that King County’s initial removal to Federal Court was frivolous at best. “At its core, this case is about a regular citizen who found herself the unwarranted target of powerful government officials,” Attorney Jeffrey Possinger explains. “This premature removal to Federal Court was yet another instance within the County’s larger pattern of creating excessive pressure and unnecessary expenses for our client.” Now that the case has been moved back to State Court, Danieli’s team and the government defendants can resume their previous efforts. We invite you to stay up-to-date with future case developments by following our firm’s related social media channels (@possinger_law_group on Instagram, and miskathecat.com).

Danieli Seeks Court Sanctions Against Government Defendants

Posted on: 20 Apr 2021

Attorneys for Danieli Claim that the King County Defendant’s Notice of Removal was Legally Baseless, and that the Federal Court should impose Court Sanctions. TACOMA, WASHINGTON Almost two months after initially taking Miska, the brown tabby cat’s case to federal court, the King County Defendants have reversed course and now filed a Motion to Remand, in an attempt to return the case back to State Court.  Plaintiff Anna Danieli, who is the owner of Miska, who is at at the center of this litigation, is asking the federal court to impose sanctions, in addition to paying her attorney’s fees and costs. “This case should have never been removed to federal court in the first place,” says Jon Zimmerman, one of the attorneys representing the Danieli.  Danieli’s attorneys have filed a Response to the King County Defendants’ Motion for Remand as well as a separate Motion for Sanctions.  Both court filings allege that the King County Defendants’ original Notice of Removal to federal court was lacking in any valid legal basis for removal to federal court, while also containing material misrepresentations within the court filings. “As officers of the court, attorneys have obligations around the court documents they file,” stated Zimmerman. “Filing court documents without proper legal authority and full of misrepresentations is sanctionable conduct.” The Case, Before King County Removed It to Federal Court Before King County filed its Notice of Removal on March 5th, 2021, the case had been in Pierce County Superior Court since April 2019. Since this time, Danieli has dealt with a number of procedural motions to remove certain individual defendants, as well as a significant court victory in October 2020, when she successfully obtained a Declaratory Judgment and Injunction against the City of Bellevue. This decision found relevant portions of the Bellevue City Code invalid, and forbade the King County Hearing Examiner from hearing any further appeals of animal enforcement cases from Bellevue until the City of Bellevue corrected and updated its local law.  In response to the Court’s Order, the City of Bellevue amended the Bellevue City Code in December 2020.  Since the time of this court win, the case has continued with its remaining tort claims, as well as the prospect of civil rights claims against the various Government Defendants resulting from evidence uncovered during litigation.  “This has been a very long process, and a very complicated case” says Zimmerman, who has been prosecuting this case alongside attorney Jeffrey Possinger. The recent court filings by Danieli’s attorneys describe the detailed timeline of this legally complicated case.  “The facts of this case are complicated, but the story is pretty simple” says Possinger. “This is a case involving a private citizen taking on the government – in this case two governments and their teams of attorneys, and it illustrates just how hard it is to hold the government responsible for its actions.”  Just prior to King County’s filing of its Notice of Removal, the Superior Court had required the attorneys for Danieli to address some procedural matters before it would move forward with approving Danieli’s request to amend her complaint to include claims for civil rights violations. Then, without notice to Danieli’s attorneys or to the Superior Court, King County filed its Notice of Removal, only hours after one such hearing. “Whether or not Danieli’s proposed civil rights claims would eventually belong in federal court is an arguable question, but there is no question that [King] County’s taking this case to federal court at this time was procedurally premature” says Possinger.  The timing of King County’s actions “essentially jammed a legal and jurisdictional crowbar between the gears of two separate but interrelated court systems” says Danieli’s Motion for Sanctions, actions that have been an unnecessary and costly derailing of Danieli’s case in state court.  It’s this kind of expensive and legally baseless game-playing that Danieli’s Motion for Sanctions seeks to address. Sanctionable Conduct Part of a Pattern Danieli’s attorneys say that this kind of conduct by King County and its attorneys is part of a pattern. Danieli’s attorneys point out in the Motion for Sanctions that, in earlier motions ( that ultimately resulted in the City of Bellevue being required to change its law), the Government Defendants had attempted to prevent Danieli from having her day in court at all by “voiding” the underlying civil infractions that had been issued against her before the trial court could hold a hearing on her legal claims.  At the time, all of the Government Defendants had relied on this strategy, as a way to prevent Danieli from having her claims rightfully heard by the court. Not only had the Government Defendants failed to disclose to Danieli’s attorneys for months that they had voided the underlying infractions against their client Danieli (only revealing this information in their Motions to Dismiss), but as Danieli’s attorneys pointed out to the trial court in their responses to the various government motions, the actions taken by King County employees to effectuate this strategy were both illegal and for those taking the actions, official misconduct, according to the relevant law governing civil infractions. Although the trial court did not sanction the Government Defendants at that time, the trial court ignored the Government Defendants’ stratagem, and granted Danieli’s Motion for Partial Summary Judgment. As is detailed in her Motion for Sanctions, even though she ultimately prevailed and the Government Defendants’ ill-conceived strategy failed, Danieli’s fight against these tactics has come at a high cost to her as a private citizen taking on two of the largest governments in Washington State. Holding the Government Accountable Danieli’s attorneys say this motion is required to hold the government and its attorneys accountable. “This lawsuit is about holding the government accountable for its actions, and this particular motion is about holding the government and its attorneys accountable for their conduct within this case,” says attorney Jeffrey Possinger.  He and co-counsel Jon Zimmerman are hopeful that sanctions will prevent, or at least minimize, additional frivolous legal tactics going forward as […]