June 2014 Bar Bulletin
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Profile / Michele Earl-Hubbard

Sword and Shield for the Fourth Estate

By David M. Norman

 

My litigation career began when Michele Earl-Hubbard took a chance on me. Fresh off completing the bar exam in 2008, I saw an advertisement for a contract attorney position at a small law firm in Seattle. The firm was Allied Law Group, founded by Michele and one of her colleagues the year previous.

Allied is a unique, boutique law firm that focuses on media and appellate law, and enforcing Washington's open government laws (public record and open meetings laws, and the right to open courts). After accepting Michele's offer, I had no idea what to expect.

Michele's experience and reputation in these areas were apparent from the start. Within a month of starting at Allied, I was helping Michele with several of her cases at the lower appellate and state Supreme Court levels. While her clients ranged from individual reporters, to small and large newspapers to everyday citizens who simply wanted access to public records, what they all had in common was absolute trust in Michele to handle their cases from the filing of the complaint, to argument at the highest court in the state.

Years later, I recognized that it is a very rare attorney who is equally facile at the trial and appellate levels. More importantly, there are important reasons why Michele's clients trust her so readily.

Michele's background and training give her a unique understanding of the particular import of the First Amendment and how the lofty principles behind that broad set of rights actually play out in the courtroom.

Michele completed her undergraduate training in California, obtaining a degree in journalism in 1989. She worked in reporting and editorial positions at small newspapers in the Bay Area and saw firsthand the importance of investigative reporting. Unfortunately, she also experienced the frustration of doors being closed, records being sealed or withheld, and attempted intimidation of reporters and publishers by powerful individuals seeking to prevent reporting.

Between the media law course she took as an undergraduate and covering the courts as a journalist, she fell in love with the law and saw a way to help other journalists stand up to intimidation, investigate and speak freely, and open closed doors and records for the public. With this in mind, Michele applied to law school and was accepted at the Northwestern University School of Law in Chicago, one of the finest law schools in the nation. Unsurprisingly, she excelled at Northwestern, graduating with honors and serving on the Law Review.


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