March 2012 Bar Bulletin
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March 2012 Bar Bulletin

Dave Martin: Homage to a Friend

By Michael J. Bond


David L. Martin was my friend. He died on January 11 at age 69, and he worked hard as the leader of the Lee Smart firm until long after he got sick with kidney cancer in 2011.

I first met Dave in 1982 when I came to Seattle looking for work after getting out of the Marines. Several hundred asbestos cases were going to start trial soon and I think the law firm - then called Lee Smart Cook and Martin - was looking for experienced trial lawyers to handle the trials. Plus it helped that two of my law school classmates, Joel Wright and John Schedler, worked there.

Dave could make a decision quickly. I interviewed on a Thursday, and he called me the next day to ask me to come to work the following Monday. When he offered me the job, I don't recall exactly what he said or how he put it, but he said something in the nature of a warning or disclaimer, and what I do recall is telling him, "That's okay, Dave, I know how to work for a son of a bitch."

Well he wasn't that way, to me anyway.

Dave was a great lawyer and he seemed to care for me and I am thankful to this day. He taught me most of what I know about how to deal with clients, judges and colleagues; not by sitting down and teaching these things, but instead by doing them where you could watch and learn. Dave was direct and aggressive; he knew the law and he was usually right.

We are all in some ways the product of where we came from. When my wife, Marianne, and I came to Seattle, we fell right in with Joel and Ron and Phil, and Jake and Lynn because we all loved to ski. A year or so after I started at Lee Smart, I asked Dave if he skied and he looked at me like I was crazy. He said, no, he had spent too many freezing cold mornings trudging through the snow and ice every day to take care of the dairy herd his dad ran in Quincy to ever believe you could go have fun and play in the snow.

I've wondered for many years why we got along, when some others did not. He was in the Army and I served in the military, too. But I was a Marine, and for reasons only a Marine will understand, we are a bit different.

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