December 16, 2021
Get to Know Pacifica – Denise Stiffarm
This week in Pacifica’s “Get to Know” series, we are highlighting Denise Stiffarm. Denise is a partner and practices in the areas of municipal, land use, real estate, and education law where a significant portion of her practice is devoted to providing special counsel to public school districts.
Why did you choose your area of practice and what do you like most about it?
I left law school with an interest in public policy but no real practice focus and great curiosity generally. I benefited from a first year attorney experience where I was able to work across a variety of substantive areas of practice. However, I returned repeatedly to land use projects, which have so much policy at their core, and work generally with public entity clients. I was lucky enough to focus on school district and other public agency projects, and then to build the land use work to include infrastructure planning, real estate, and more general policy-related matters. What I most enjoy is being involved in the siting of a school project from its earliest point of planning, through site review and acquisition, land use entitlement and permitting, and finally construction. It’s a lot of fun to drive around the region and see schools that I’ve been directly involved with in one way or another.
Why did you choose to practice law at Pacifica Law Group?
In 2015, I chose to move my practice to Pacifica very specifically and intentionally in order to return to practicing with career-long friends and mentors, grow my practice beside a supportive group of top-level practitioners, and enjoy shared fundamental practice and life values. All of these things were proven true then and remain true today.
What Kinds of Volunteer, philanthropic, or community events are important to you?
I am fortunate to have spent most of my professional career engaged in community-based volunteer activities and board participation. My grandfather instilled in me at a very young age, through his actions and words, the obligation that we each have to try to better our community. I’ve also found that I gain so much personal value from community engagement. My current favorite volunteer activity is being an inaugural board member of the One Roof Foundation – the philanthropic arm of the Seattle Kraken and Climate Pledge Arena.
What is something others might find surprising about you?
At this point, I’m fairly transparent but I think some may be surprised to learn that I’m incredibly shy by nature and a tremendous introvert. Oh, and I also can lose entire weekend afternoons in low-grade tv shows without any amount of guilt.