Davis Wright Tremaine

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Davis Wright Tremaine LLP
Davis Wright Tremaine
Headquarters Seattle, Washington
No. of offices 9
No. of attorneys 519 (2010)
Major practice areas Full-service
Date founded 1944
Company type LLP

Davis Wright Tremaine LLP is a national business and litigation law firm with offices across the United States and in Shanghai, China.[1] The firm is particularly noted for its Corporate/M&A, Commercial Litigation, Energy, Labor & Employment, Media/First Amendment, and Real Estate practice groups, all of which received Band 1 rankings in the 2013 Chambers USA guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.[2] The firm’s largest office is in Seattle, and its longtime clients include many of the best-known corporate and nonprofit institutions based in the Northwest, including Microsoft, Amazon.com, T-Mobile, The Seattle Times Company, The Seattle Art Museum, Virginia Mason, and Providence Health & Services.

The media practice group is widely recognized as a national leader. The firm’s team of 70 media lawyers was honored in 2013 with the Chambers USA Award for Excellence, designating Davis Wright as the firm that “has excelled above all others” in this practice area.[3] In 2012, Davis Wright was named Law Firm of the Year in the Communications practice area by Best Lawyers and U.S. News.

In 2012, Davis Wright was ranked 96th largest law firm in the United States by the National Law Journal, based on attorney headcount. The firm was ranked No. 114 by gross revenue on the AmLaw 200 that same year.[4]

The firm’s noteworthy representations have included serving as lead counsel for 30,000 plaintiffs in consolidated proceedings on behalf of fishermen, processors, Alaska natives, landowners, businesses, and others injured as a result of the spill of 11.8 million gallons of North Slope crude oil into the coastal waters of Alaska by the Exxon Valdez.[5] The plaintiffs were ultimately awarded almost a billion dollars in damages and interest.

The firm also successfully represented CBS in its long-running effort to overturn fines imposed by the Federal Communications Commission over the Janet Jackson “wardrobe malfunction” at the 2004 Super Bowl.[6][7]


Firm founder John Davis, who recently celebrated his 99th birthday, founded the firm in 1944 based on a series of what he called Real Aims: “1. Financial independence. 2. Good reputation among fellow men, especially for ability and integrity. 3. Enough time off to enjoy living.”[8] His firm merged with Wright, Simon, Todd & Schmechel in 1969. In the 1980s, the firm opened offices in Anchorage, AK; Washington, DC; Bellevue, WA; and Los Angeles, CA. It merged with Ragen, Tremaine, Krieger of Portland, OR in 1990[9] and added more than 20 lawyers from Heller Ehrman LLP in 2008.

Davis Wright was the first U.S. firm with legal authority to maintain a law office in Shanghai, and has been operating in the country since 1994.[10] Alumni of the firm include Gary Locke, former Governor of Washington state, and now the U.S. Ambassador to China.

Recognition and Rankings[edit]

  • 2013 – Gold Certification awarded by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum, recognizing the significant number of women in top leadership positions at the firm.
  • 2013 – Twelve attorneys from the Washington, D.C., office named to the Capital Pro Bono Honor Roll.
  • 2013 – 88 attorneys listed in the Chambers USA guide to America’s Leading Lawyers for Business.
  • 2013 – L.A. partners Kelli Sager and Alonzo Wickers IV named to The Hollywood Reporter’s list of Top 100 Entertainment Lawyers.
  • 2013 – Portland associate Paul Southwick named one of the 40 Top LGBT Lawyers Under 40 by the National LGBT Bar Association.
  • 2013 – First Place awarded by the Legal Marketing Association for recruiting campaign, “A Day in the Life of Davis Wright Tremaine.”
  • 2012 – Ranked among the top 100 firms nationally in American Lawyer’s annual Diversity Scorecard.
  • 2012 – National first-tier ranking awarded in ten practice areas by U.S. News and Best Lawyers.
  • 2012 – The 2012 James Madison Award from the Washington Coalition for Open Government.
  • 2012 – 9 attorneys named “Lawyers of the Year” in their city and practice area by Best Lawyers.
  • 2012 – ACLU of Southern California’s 2012 “Artistic Freedom Award” for pro bono advocacy.
  • 2012 – Named to list of Washington’s Top 75 Corporate Philanthropists (Puget Sound Business Journal).
  • 2011 – Pro Bono Challenge Award from the Oregon State Bar Association for most pro bono hours worked by any large Oregon firm in 2010.

Assistance to Guantanamo captives[edit]

Davis Wright Tremaine partners Bud Walsh and Rick Cys prepared the habeas corpus petition for Abdul Haleem, one of the captives held in extrajudicial detention in the United States Guantanamo Bay detention camps, in Cuba.[11]

Charles "Cully" Stimson, then Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Detainee Affairs, stirred controversy when he went on record criticizing the patriotism of law firms that allowed employees to assist Guantanamo captives: "corporate CEOs seeing this should ask firms to choose between lucrative retainers and representing terrorists." [12] Stimson's views were widely criticized; the Pentagon disavowed them, and Stimson resigned shortly thereafter.

Malpractice Suits[edit]

Davis Wright Tremaine, like many large law firms, has been the subject of numerous malpractice lawsuits, filed by disgruntled former clients. Of particular note however, was a suit alleging that they played a key role, in assisting retirement home operator Sunwest Management Inc. in its running of a $400 million Ponzi scheme. The lawsuit, which was filed by a group of Sunwest investors, alleged that Davis Wright Tremaine encouraged individuals and businesses to invest in Sunwest, even though they were aware of the company’s financial troubles. The suit was resolved before trial, when Davis Wright Tremaine agreed to pay a $30 million settlement to the plaintiffs, the largest malpractice award in the history of the State of Oregon.[13]

Davis Wright's largest office is headquartered in Seattle, Wash.


  1. ^ http://www.dwt.com/locations/uniGC.aspx?xpST=OfficeList
  2. ^ http://www.chambersandpartners.com/USA/Firms/3834-98395
  3. ^ http://www.chambersandpartners.com/chambers-usa-awards-2013
  4. ^ http://www.americanlawyer.com/PubArticleTAL.jsp?id=1202494427064&The_2013_Am_Law_200
  5. ^ http://www.dwt.com/experience/uniEntity.aspx?xpST=ExperienceDetail&experience=6215
  6. ^ http://amlawdaily.typepad.com/amlawdaily/2010/02/davis-wright-still-plugging-away-on-wardrobe-malfunction-case.html
  7. ^ [1]
  8. ^ http://issuu.com/uwschooloflaw/docs/uwlaw_magazine_fall2011?e=3191660/2020673
  9. ^ http://djcoregon.com/news/2009/01/20/merger-creates-davis-wright-tremaine-in-1990/
  10. ^ http://www.dwt.com/offices/shanghai/?op=overview
  11. ^ "Our 2005 pro bono Portfolio: Pro bono cases that span legal issues and human concerns". Davis Wright Tremaine. Summer 2006. Archived from the original on 2007-09-28. Retrieved 2008-01-19. 
  12. ^ Lewis, Neil (2007-01-13). "Official attacks top law firms over detainees". New York Times. Retrieved 2007-01-17. 
  13. ^ http://www.bizjournals.com/portland/stories/2009/04/13/daily14.html?page=all

External links[edit]