July 2017 Bar Bulletin
By Paul Dayton
Andy Maron, KCBA’s president for 2017–18, has announced goals of emphasizing membership services directly benefiting lawyers and supporting the judicial system during these times of state and local budget challenges. These goals are eminently reasonable, but to understand how Andy will implement them it helps to know how he got here.
The story is partly about 35 years as a construction lawyer with some commercial litigation and municipal advice mixed in. But, mostly it is about commitment to a set of values that will now inform the future of the bar.
Service fills Andy’s résumé. After graduating from the U.S. Military Academy, i.e., West Point, in 1967, he went to Vietnam and was sent into battle as a platoon leader in response to the Tet Offensive (a pivotal campaign in the conflict). This was a divisive and decisive time in American history, but it did not mark Andy with rancor.
If you know him, you will agree that he is consistently friendly and even tempered. So, accounts of him on patrol in the middle of a dark Vietnamese jungle calmly looking for and finding a lost contact lens won’t surprise you. He is interested in the world, so a day off touring the ancient city of Hue made lots of sense. He was awarded the Bronze Star, Purple Heart and other commendations, but you will not hear about it from him. He completed Ranger School and some of those skills were on display decades later in the mountains of Washington.
After Vietnam, Andy went to law school at the University of South Carolina, followed by a year at the University of Virginia where he obtained a master of laws degree. Married to Sallie now, he continued his military career in the Judge Advocate General’s Corps. Posted in Virginia, Fort Lewis, and Washington, D.C., he worked first as a prosecutor, and later as a defense lawyer. His cases ranged from very serious — murder and robbery — to uniquely military problems such as AWOL violations and disobeying an order to get a haircut. Always committed to his work, Andy also served as editor-in chief of The Advocate, A Journal for Military Defense Counsel.
He particularly remembers a case in which eight soldiers refused to go on a winter training exercise in Alaska. Dubbed a “mutiny” by some, it turned out during the court-martial, pre-trial investigation that inadequate training and equipment coupled with poor unit leadership caused the soldiers to rebel. Andy led the defense team, and he and the other defense lawyers convinced the higher command that the matter did not deserve a criminal proceeding. Rather, administrative disciplinary action was appropriate for all parties — soldiers and commanders.
The assignment to Fort Lewis gave Andy and Sallie a chance to see Washington and after a brief stint in the JAG appellate section in D.C., Andy left active duty and settled permanently here. He continued in the Army Reserves for another 15 years, retiring as a colonel.
He joined Short Cressman & Cable in 1978 and never looked back. The firm then, as it does today as Short Cressman & Burgess, had a substantial construction law practice, so Andy’s West Point engineering background made him a good fit here. He liked the work, especially the engineering and practical problems presented in construction cases.
Andy enjoys working with lawyers. As he has said on a number of occasions, “I find lawyers to be dedicated, slightly idealistic problem solvers who seek to make our society a better place, in their own practices and through their community and professional activities.”
Some lawyers can find problems wherever they look, but in his practice Andy was a problem solver. A good example is another Alaska case: this time involving the significant delays and cost overruns in building an Indian Health Service hospital in a remote village. As is usual in these types of cases, investigation revealed that there were multiple causes for the difficulties.
Andy guided the contractor team to focus on correcting the problems and completing the building so as to limit the monetary damages, and then assisted in the negotiations with the owner and other parties to conclude the dispute. In time, this ability led to service as a mediator. Andy’s leadership skills showed and he spent many years in firm management, eventually rising to managing partner.
Even as he was building his practice, Andy also contributed to the bar. In 1979, he started working with KCBA, serving as chair of the Public Information Committee and then as a trustee of the Young Lawyers Section. By 1982, he was a member and then chair of the Judicial Evaluation Committee, a role that he continued in for many years. He chaired three other committees — Awards, Judicial Conferencing, and Public Policy — and served as a board trustee in 2004–07.
He was selected as KCBA’s second vice president in 2015, setting the stage to move through the upper echelon to become president starting this month. He also served the Washington State Bar Association as a trustee of the Construction Law Section for many years, including serving as chair in 2007–08.
His military record notwithstanding, some would say that Andy’s greatest achievement was on a different court. He plays many sports, but is remembered as the point guard on a powerhouse Bainbridge Island community league basketball team. Never afraid to shoot, Andy teamed with “all lawyer world” guard Jim Clark, Rob Crichton, Mike Reynvaan, the late Bob Burke, and a bunch of lesser talents to win the coveted black shirt given to the league champion.
The term “community organizer” now has national connotations, but Andy embraced this role locally. When he, Sallie and their five children moved into their new house on Bainbridge Island in 1979, they almost immediately lost water service. That caused him to investigate water service on the island, which led to service as a member and co-chair of the Bainbridge Island Water Coordinating Committee, and then organizer and commissioner of the Westhill Water District.
Andy was elected to the Bainbridge Island City Council in 1991, eventually becoming mayor pro tempore for the City of Bainbridge Island. One of the chief benefits of a position of this stature was a ride in the city parade aboard a large city sewer truck. Andy thought the truck was great!
This talent for politicking did not escape the attention of the powers that be and Andy was soon asked to run for national office — the House seat for the First District. Andy ultimately decided to keep his focus local and passed on the opportunity. A fellow island hoopster — a gent by the name of Jay Inslee — then decided to run for the seat, and the rest is history.
Staying local has advantages, especially in the Northwest. Andy took to the hills with his children. As they grew up, his boys turned into ace mountain climbers. In their spare time they took Andy and some of his lawyer friends up mountains in the Olympics and the North Cascades as well as Mt. Rainier.
A lot of mountain climbing is route finding and hiking for a long time uphill, but there were 50-degree (geometric degrees, not Fahrenheit ones) icy couloirs and exposed high-angle snow traverses mixed in. Time in the mountains has stoked Andy’s sense of civic and personal responsibility. These principles have guided his life and it will guide his service as KCBA president.
As Andy starts his term, his vision is focused on KCBA’s core institutional values: carry forward a 130-year tradition of helping lawyers be successful; preserve and enable an excellent judicial system; and provide the general public with access to legal process. The largest challenge in this may be dollars. But, that is not new.
In preparing for his responsibilities, Andy has looked back at records of old association meetings and noted budget issues, but with smaller numbers. You may be hearing from Andy as he pushes for funding and other resources to move KCBA’s agenda forward. That’s just the way he is. As always, Andy will uphold the mission of the bar and exemplify its values.