< Our Attorneys

Denise Stiffarm


Denise practices in the areas of municipal, land use, and education law. She spends a significant portion of her practice providing land use, real estate, general municipal, and public policy advice to school districts. She also has experience working on a variety of public/private joint ventures and regularly advises several special purpose, entrepreneurial public entities.

Denise has worked with clients on a range of issues, including growth management, land use planning and permitting, environmental (NEPA/SEPA) review, feasibility and site selection, eminent domain, facilities planning, and development and implementation of impact fee programs. She has also drafted and negotiated a variety of complex real estate documents and development agreements. In addition, she regularly counsels clients regarding the State Open Public Meetings Act and the Public Records Act, as well as general public agency compliance matters. Denise is an experienced advocate before state and local legislative bodies.

Prior to joining Pacifica, Denise was a partner at Preston Gates & Ellis LLP and its successor firm, K&L Gates.

Denise is an enrolled member of the Gros Ventre (A’aninin/White Clay) Tribe and is an active member of Seattle’s Urban Indian community. Denise has a long history with and commitment to community volunteer activities.

Bar Admissions:

  • Washington
  • United States District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
  • United States District Court for the Western District of Washington


  • Washington State University, B.A., Sociology and Criminal Justice
  • University of Washington School of Law, J.D., Notes & Comments Executive Editor, Washington Law Review, Order of the Barristers, Moot Court Honor Board


  • Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America in Education Law 2012-2018, and as Lawyer of the Year (Education Law, Washington), 2012, and as Lawyer of the Year (Education Law, Seattle), 2017¬†(Copyright by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC)
  • Selected for Washington Super Lawyers, 2011-2017
  • Selected for Washington Rising Stars, 2004-2009

Community Involvement:

  • Chief Seattle Club, Board of Directors (nonprofit organization serving homeless and low-income American Indian, First Nations and Alaskan Native people), 2002-present (President of the Board, 2008-2017)
  • YWCA (Seattle/King/Snohomish), Board of Directors, 2011-present
  • YWCA People of Color Executive Council
  • University of Washington President’s Minority Community Advisory Committee, 2013-present
  • College Spark Washington, Board of Trustees, 2016-present
  • Seattle Art Museum, Board of Trustees, 2017-present
  • YouthCare, former Board member
  • Audubon Washington, former Board member
  • Seward Park Environmental and Audubon Center, former Board member
  • Seattle Indian Health Board SpiritWalk, volunteer
  • First Place School, volunteer tutor
  • Pioneer Square Preservation Board, former Board member
  • University of Washington, Law Alumni Ambassador (conducting outreach to college, high school, and junior high school students of color)
  • Leadership Tomorrow, Class of 2001
  • King County Bar Association Young Lawyers Division, former Trustee

Professional Organizations:

  • Northwest Indian Bar Association
  • National Native American Bar Association