Zach Pekelis
Jones

COUNSEL

A former DOJ trial lawyer and Washington State Assistant Attorney General, Zach helps public and private clients navigate all phases of civil litigation.

Zach’s practice focuses on public entity representation, political law, complex commercial disputes, and appellate advocacy. A former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney and Washington State Assistant Attorney General, Zach brings strategic insight and a broad range of experience to help his clients navigate all stages of civil litigation—from discovery to motions practice through trial and appeal.

After clerking for Judge David F. Hamilton of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, Zach joined an international law firm based in Seattle. With a diverse client base ranging from Fortune 100 companies to small nonprofits, Zach became an adaptive, civil generalist and courtroom advocate, litigating across a wide range of subject matter and taking six cases to trial. In DOJ’s Civil Rights Division, Zach litigated voting rights cases on behalf of the U.S. government, successfully suing to invalidate Texas’s strict voter ID law under the Voting Rights Act. In the Washington State Attorney General’s Office, Zach represented the State in various cases against the previous federal administration, including challenges to its deregulation of 3D-printed firearms and to the “public charge” immigration rule. Zach also led the litigation team defending the State’s emergency response to COVID-19, going undefeated in 28 lawsuits.

Before going to law school, Zach taught global history at a Brooklyn high school through Teach For America. Born and raised in Seattle, Zach is a proud graduate of Garfield High School, where he played baseball and in the jazz band. He continues to play sax and piano in his free time, and also enjoys cycling, yoga, and live music.

Zach serves on the board of the Washington Bus and on the Seattle Ethics and Elections Commission.

Bar Admissions:
  • Washington
Education:
  • Yale College, B.A., Ethics, Politics & Economics, cum laude
  • Pace University, M.S., Teaching
  • Yale Law School, J.D.
Honors:
  • Thurman Arnold Prize for Best Oral Advocacy – Yale Law School Moot Court Competition
  • European Union Studies Fellowship – Yale College
Speaking:
  • “Pandemic Litigation,” Effective Public Lawyering CLE, Washington Attorney General’s Office (May 2021)
  • “Suppressing the Vote: Barriers to Voting,” Joaqin Avila Memorial Symposium, Seattle University Law School (Mar. 2019)
Community Involvement:
  • Commissioner, Seattle Ethics & Elections Commission
  • Board of Directors, The Washington Bus
  • Board of Trustees, Seattle JazzED (2013-16)
Representative Matters:
  • COVID-19 litigation: successfully defended Governor Jay Inslee and other officials in 28 state and federal lawsuits challenging State’s COVID-19 emergency orders, including the “Stay Home” proclamation, capacity restrictions on religious services, mask requirements, and the moratorium on residential evictions.
  • Public Charge Rule: represented State of Washington in successful constitutional and administrative law challenge to federal regulation authorizing denial of green cards to immigrants who had received certain government benefits.
  • 3D Guns: represented State of Washington in successful challenge to U.S. State Department regulation that would have relinquished control over transnational of 3D-printed firearm technology.
  • Initiative 1639: defended ballot initiative regulating assault rifles against federal and state constitutional challenges (appeals pending).
  • Line-Item Veto: represented the Legislature in Washington Supreme Court case on Governor’s line-item veto power.
  • Millennium Bulk Terminals: represented Governor Inslee and Department of Ecology in federal constitutional challenge to denial of permits required to construct massive coal export terminal in Longview, Washington.
  • Texas Voter ID: represented United States in lawsuit challenging Texas’s strict voter ID law, which federal district court and 5th Circuit struck down under Section 2 of the Voting Rights Act.
  • The Boeing Company: multiple cases, including jury trial in Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) case, winning full defense verdict.
  • Costco: multiple cases, including consumer protection appeal in the Ninth Circuit.
  • AAA Arbitration: represented manufacturer in arbitration claim against a supplier, culminating in a two-week witness hearing, with tribunal ruling fully in client’s favor on contract interpretation and awarding it $57 million.
  • Intel Corp.: submitted brief in U.S. Supreme Court on behalf of Intel as amicus in personal jurisdiction case.
  • Pharmacy religious refusals (Stormans Inc. v. Wiesman): submitted U.S. Supreme Court brief defending regulation requiring pharmacies to stock and dispense contraceptives.
  • PFLAG Washington State Council: represented PFLAG and Washington Coalition of Sexual Assault Programs in ballot title litigation on initiative that would have allowed gender-identity discrimination in public accommodations.
  • Sea Shepherd Conservation Society: represented board of directors of environmental nonprofit in civil contempt proceedings arising from a campaign to stop whale hunts.