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Paul J. Lawrence


Paul Lawrence is the senior litigation partner at Pacifica Law Group LLP. Paul concentrates his practice on complex appellate and civil litigation, including commercial, municipal, constitutional, environmental, and insurance coverage cases in federal and state courts.

Paul’s appellate experience includes over fifty appeals principally in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Supreme Courts of Washington and Montana, and the various Courts of Appeal in Washington. He has also practiced in the United States Supreme Court, the Third, Eleventh, D.C., and Federal Circuit Courts of Appeal, and the California and New York appellate courts.

Paul has been lead trial counsel in numerous successful, complex, multi–party cases, including jury trials, in federal and state courts in Washington, Montana, and California.

His clients include a broad range of public entities and private clients including Fortune 500 Companies, significant local businesses, a foreign nation, and Washington counties, cities, special purpose districts, and port districts. He previously Chaired the Litigation Department at Preston Gates Ellis (now K&L Gates) and the Appellate Practice Group at K&L Gates.

Bar Admissions:

  • Washington
  • Montana
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Washington
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Washington
  • U.S. District Court of Montana
  • Court of Appeals – D.C. Circuit
  • Third Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Federal Circuit Court of Appeals
  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • University of Chicago, B.A., Politics, Economics, Rhetoric and Law, Dean’s List
  • University of Pennsylvania Law School, J.D., with honors (University of Pennsylvania Law Review, Articles Editor)


  • Selected for Washington Super Lawyers, 2001–2017, and for Washington Super Lawyers Top 100, 2012–2016
  • Selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America, in the field of Appellate Law (Copyright by Woodward/White, Inc., of Aiken, SC), 2007-2018
  • Named a “Recognized Practitioner,” Chambers & Partners USA, 2016
  • Fellow, Litigation Counsel of America
  • Peer Review Rated AV® Preeminent ™ in Martindale-Hubbell
  • Northwest Progressive Institute’s Lynn Allen Award for “indispensable contributions to progressive causes,” 2017
  • Selected as a leading lawyer in the Puget Sound region, as determined by his peers (Seattle Business Magazine)
  • Listed in Seattle Met “Best Lawyers”
  • Preston Gates & Ellis Jim Ellis Award for service as an ACLU Cooperating Attorney
  • Greater Seattle Business Association’s Special Recognition Award Collaboration for Social Change

Speaking Engagements & Presentations:

  • Washington State Judicial Conference: “Power and Reach of the Internet” (2013)
  • “The Complete Appeal Conference: “Strategies from Start to Finish” (2010)
  • “State v. Federal Appeals: Winning in Either Venue” (2011)
  • “U.S. Supreme Court Watch” (2011)
  • “Legal Editing: Improve your work and that of those who work for you” (2013)
  • Election Law Seminar (2012)
  • Federal Court Boot Camp Conference (2011–2012)

Community Involvement:

  • ACLU of Washington Board Member, 1985–present,  former Board President, 1989–1996
  • ACLU National Board Member, 1999–2005
  • Intiman Theatre Board Member, 2002–2011

Professional Organizations:

  • Greater Seattle Business Association, Special Recognition Award, Collaboration for Social Change
  • American Bar Association Council of Appellate Lawyers
  • Washington Appellate Lawyers Association

Representative Matters:

  • State Legislators and Education Advocates: Successful Challenge to the Constitutionality of the 2/3rds Vote Initiative.
  • Pike Place Market Development Agency: Defended the Pike Place Market against efforts of the Urban Group to wrest control of the market from the public.
  • Washington State Major League Baseball Stadium Public Facilities District: Defended over a dozen lawsuits challenging various aspects of the effort to build the Safeco Field baseball stadium in Seattle.
  • Sound Transit: Defended several lawsuits challenging the legality of Sound Transit and its public transportation projects. Issues litigated include the constitutionality of the statute creating Sound Transit and the taxes imposed to fund Sound Transit, the legality of changes to the Sound Move plan, compliance with NEPA/SEPA, and the potential impairment of Sound Transit’s bonds.
  • City of Seattle: Represented the City in its litigation to prevent the Sonics from breaking its Key Arena lease.
  • The Republic of Nauru: Obtained defense trial verdict in a federal lawsuit alleging breach of contract and breach of the covenant of good faith and fair dealing. Trial court judgment affirmed on appeal.
  • BNSF Railway Company: Prosecuted and defended cases arising from alleged environmental contamination in Washington and Montana. Successfully argued that federal law preempted a local effort to regulate environmental impacts of a rail transportation plan.  Appellate Counsel work in Washington.
  • PPL Montana: Obtained intentional breach of contract finding at federal court trial in Montana. Defended claims by State regarding ownership of riverbeds upon which PPL Montana’s dams sit.
  • Microsoft Corp.: Defeated an attempt to certify a class of plaintiffs alleging product defects and advertising misrepresentations in Windows 95. Litigated a multi-million dollar CGL insurance coverage claim.
  • Monin, Inc.: Prevailed in a federal court jury trial in Washington defending a manufacturer accused of breaching distribution and commission contracts.
  • Queen City Farms: Litigated from trial to state Supreme Court the leading Washington case establishing that general liability insurance policies provide coverage for costs to clean up environmental damages.  Obtained millions of dollars in settlement for client.
  • Delta Airlines: Lead counsel for Delta Airlines in a five–week federal trial regarding the constitutionality of City’s airport access ordinance. Judgment for airlines entered at trial and upheld on appeal.