Patty started practicing law in California in 1974 after graduating from U.C. Berkeley and law school in San Francisco after acting as a contributing editor for 14 volumes on California Real Estate Law and Practice (known as CRELP at the time) for a legal publisher in San Francisco.
The first law office Patty worked in was in Livermore,California, a town much like Spokane,Washington. At the time there was a Justice of the Peace and real small town legalize with some of the local judiciary calling counsel to the bench to tell a joke. The focus of the firm was family and criminal law with an occasional real estate case. One of Patty’s first cases was representing a plaintiff as part of a class action against Boise Cascade. Other firsts include getting custody for fathers, protecting tenants from each other, and advocating for women’s rights, the latter a popular cause thanks to the ERA and NOW. In the 1970s family law had changed from requiring proof of “bad acts” by a spouse to “no fault”. This made family law easier to practice shifting the focus to the relevant issues of custody, finances, support and division of property.
In California, Patty was active in both civic and professional associations including the Queens Bench, local bar associations and represented indigent clients on family and criminal cases. She also acted as an administrative law hearing officer for over 20 years ruling on civil service appeals from the county.
Patty took and passed the Washington State Bar in 2004 after relocating to the Pacific Northwest longing for the days of a more charming and humble lifestyle that is offered in Spokaneand surrounding environs. She became a certified mediator and volunteered for the Volunteer Lawyers Family Law Advice Clinic and Housing Justice Project. Burke Law Group allowed Patty to re-visit her family and real estate law experience. Patty has had many opportunities to mediate cases or participate in trial with witnesses, evidence and cross-examination.
The most important thing in the practice of law, whether it be divorce, custody, support, adoption, property disputes, homeowner associations or executing a will is to have a sense of humor and not take it all so serious. After 38 years Patty has found that there is humor in every case; you just have to look for it. Sometimes it can be overwhelming to see families in conflict and it appears that there is no resolution that is acceptable to any of the parties. These are serious issues but sometimes seeing the humor in a fight over the Christmas ornaments can bring things into perspective. As Melvin Belli, the King of Torts, said, “A lawyer’s performance in the courtroom is responsible for 25 percent of the outcome; the remaining 75 percent depends on the facts.”