August 2016 Bar Bulletin
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KCBA Time Machine: 1980



As we continue to celebrate KCBA’s 130th anniversary year, and admittedly because I already happened to have a copy of the November 1980 Bar Bulletin at my desk for another reason (see below), I think the time is right for another edition of KCBA Time Machine (definitely not to be confused with 2010’s Academy Award-winning “Hot Tub Time Machine!”).

First, an important trivia point to share: Our Bar Bulletin editor in November 1980 was a young Mr. Stew Cogan, who nine years later would become president of the bar.

The big news that month was that Helen Pulsifer was named executive director of the organization, at that point known as the Seattle-King County Bar Association (SKCBA). It was news in part since her predecessor, Helen Geisness, had held the post for more than 20 years.

“As Executive Director,” the Bar Bulletin reported, “Pulsifer is primarily responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Bar Association and the supervision of the nine full time and six part time employees.” Today’s KCBA has 36 employees. Pulsifer continued to serve the bar until her retirement in 1989. It is particularly fitting to remember her in our time machine coverage this month since we learned that she passed away last month at the age of 90 [see obituary, page 27].

SKCBA was also the proud recipient that fall of a $10,000 grant from the Episcopal Church in Western Washington for the bar’s representation of Cuban refugees then being held at Washington’s McNeil Island Penitentiary. The refugees were part of the “Mariel Boatlift,” which began in April of that year when Cubans were allowed en masse to leave their homes, including what was later discovered to be large numbers who had been released into the group from Cuban jails and mental health hospitals.

And now a message from one of our sponsors. Postal Instant Press ran a half-page advertisement touting that it was proud to feature “Kodak 100 AF Ektaprint copiers” at both of its downtown Seattle locations. “These machines are especially well suited for the type of copying generally associated with the legal profession, i.e., a limited number of copies of multiple pages.” The tagline was: “The While-U-Wait Printers!”

Back to the business of the bar of 1980. A profile was published on newly appointed Judge Lee Kraft, who came to the bench after serving for seven years as the Bellevue city attorney. Appointed by then-Gov. Dixy Lee Ray, Judge Kraft reported that she prided herself on thorough preparation. After being rated by 120 lawyers in the 1980 bar survey, when only 42 had appeared before her, she commented that “people deserve to know more about their judges and the decisions they render but I have not seen any poll that can accurately measure the qualifications of a judge.”

The bar published an annual year-end financial report to the membership that November. It reported receiving $118,079 in membership dues, $14,961 in CLE program fees, and $67,597 in lawyer referral service fee shares to pay for pro bono programs. Fast forward to KCBA’s current budget 36 years later and we are reporting $970,070 in dues, $300,000 in CLE program revenue, and $325,200 in fee shares. Our financial position has certainly grown!

And now for another minute with our sponsors. Many classified ads touted available space for sublet. Among the deals: “Elegantly restored Maynard Building (Pioneer Square) for $400 monthly includes office, copier, telephone, 24 hour answering service, and space for secretary.” At the Bank of California building, “2,000 square feet of space (was) available to hold 5 offices, reception, conference rooms, large support areas, $13.50/sf.” For comparison purposes, KCBA today pays $27.50 per square foot of space. Rents have definitely gone up!

Finally, it is apparent that we had a very active Young Lawyers Section, with a report that was co-authored by some young guy named Andrew W. Maron (today’s KCBA first vice president!). He noted that the YLS was planning a two-day intensive seminar on preparation and trial of a lawsuit to include mock client interviews, depositions, settlement negotiations and more. The cost was an affordable $50.

The YLS report also noted that the group was working to establish a nighttime legal clinic on Rainier Avenue, opposing the proposed Seattle B&O tax on professional services, and contributing $1,000 to the public defender’s office to assist in funding a lawsuit concerning conditions at the King County Jail.

This review of the November 1980 Bar Bulletin certainly confirms our bar in 1980 was active and advancing our mission for sure. I admit to being especially impressed that they found time for all this while the country as a whole that month was anxiously awaiting the answer to America’s greatest mystery: Who shot JR? (As I recently explained to our young bar staff, the answer is Kristin — lol).

Continued happy 130th anniversary wishes to the King County Bar Association!

Andrew Prazuch is KCBA’s executive director. He can be reached by email ( or phone (206-267-7061).

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