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About me

After over a decade as a litigator with the State of Washington and one of the top 100 largest law firms in the United States, Michael G. Ballnik joined Phinney Estate Law as a partner in 2009.  While he excelled as a litigator, Michael made the move to an estate planning practice in order to use his extensive legal background for the benefit of individuals, families, and small businesses and to spend more time with his own wife and daughter. 


At Phinney Estate Law, Michael serves as the Complex Drafting Partner.  In this position, he utilizes the skills he developed while interpreting and drafting complex insurance agreements and settlement documents for large commercial entities to draft trust agreements and other complex estate planning vehicles for Phinney Estate Law clients.


Michael joined the Seattle office of international law firm Cozen O’Connor as a litigation associate in October of 2001, and was promoted to partner in 2004.  Michael was named a 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2008 Rising Star attorney by Washington Law & Politics magazine.  Michael received a Pro Bono Publico Service Commendation from the Washington State Bar Association in 2004.  Along with the Seattle office of Cozen O’Connor, Michael also received the 2005 Amicus Award from the Northwest Immigrant Rights Project due to ongoing pro bono efforts on behalf of immigration and asylum clients.

Prior to working at Cozen O’Connor, Michael served as an Assistant Attorney General for the State of Washington.  In that capacity, he represented the Washington Department of Corrections in civil litigation and appeals and argued before the Washington Court of Appeals and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.

Michael received his bachelor of arts degree in Criminology from the University of Manitoba in 1993 and earned his law degree, with distinction, from the University of North Dakota School of Law in 1997, where he was a member of the North Dakota Law Review. 


When not working or spending time with family, Michael is an avid hockey player and fan.


Practice areas


  1. Estate Planning: 75%
    8 years
  2. Probate: 25%
    8 years



Fixed (sometimes), Free consultation (30 minutes)

Payment types:

Cash, Check, Credit card

Attorney endorsements

4 total 

Are you an attorney? Endorse this lawyer

  • Raymond J Dearie JR

    I endorse this lawyer. Mike is a very intelligent and creative attorney. I recommend Mike without hesitation.


    Raymond Dearie Brain Injury Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

  • Amardeep S Shergill

    Michael Ballnik is an excellent attorney.


    Amardeep Shergill Personal Injury Attorney
    Relationship: Fellow lawyer in community

Contact info

Phinney Estate Law

751 N. 75th St.
Seattle, WA, 98103


We have not found any instances of professional misconduct for this lawyer.
Avvo contributions
Legal answers
Award nameGrantorDate granted
Rising StarWashington Law & Politics Magazine2008
Rising StarWashington Law & Politics Magazine2006
Rising StarWashington Law & Politics Magazine2005
Amicus AwardNorthwest Immigrant Rights Project2005
Rising StarWashington Law & Politics Magazine2004
Pro Bono Publico Service CommendationWashington State Bar Association2004
Work experience
TitleCompany nameDuration
PartnerPhinney Estate Law2009 - Present
PartnerCozen O'Connor2004 - 2009
AssociateCozen O'Connor2001 - 2004
Assistant Attorney GeneralAttorney General of Washington1999 - 2001
Public DefenderPierce County Department of Assigned Counsel1998 - 1999
Deputy Prosecuting AttorneyKing County Prosecutor's Office1998 - 1998
Association namePosition nameDuration
King County Bar AssociationMember2001 - 2011
Washington State Bar AssociationMember1998 - 2011
School nameMajorDegreeGraduated
University of North Dakota School of LawLawJD - Juris Doctor1997
University of ManitobaCriminologyBA - Bachelor of Arts1993