Gail Stone drove truck. “I had a year and a half of college and a driver’s license. With those qualifications, boys’ jobs paid twice what girls’ jobs paid. I needed money,” she explains.
It was a good thing she did. It was a way back to college. It exposed her to employment discrimination, which got her interested in law school. And a coworker set her up on a blind date with Steve Uhrich, her husband of 33 years.
I first met Gail as an undergraduate intern assigned to me as the House Judiciary Committee chair. She clearly was excited about the possibilities and action of the Legislature. She went on to law school at the UW at age 31. She was elected SBA president at the end of her 1L year. Family law displaced employment law as her practice interest. Our paths crossed again after law school.
“Gail was my research assistant in law school,” recalls Professor Emeritus Robert H. Aronson. “She did an outstanding job, particularly on my Evidence book. She wasn’t interested in a big firm practice, so when she asked for advice I referred her to Marlin Appelwick and Michael Trickey. It was a great fit for her, a chance to practice law with good mentors.”
Gail was a very good family law attorney. I depended on her to cover my cases when the Legislature was in session. She was a great associate and everyone in the firm was very fond of her. But in 1995, Gail would ask to leave.
“If I couldn’t be happy practicing law in that firm, I couldn’t be happy practicing anywhere,” she explained. “I couldn’t keep enough emotional distance from the trauma. The behavior of some of my clients and of the opposing parties — the ones who didn’t want things to get better — who intentionally violated court orders, was too much.”
I had recently become the House minority leader and needed an assistant. Gail was the obvious choice. We knew each other’s styles, talents. I trusted her completely.
Gail was a natural. “This was my milieu,” she says. “People were passionate. People liked their jobs. There were interesting things to work on, things that make a difference. And, at that time, people had fun. They would duke it out during the day and socialize in the evening. They could agree to a list of issues to fix and work out a solution.
“The human interaction was fascinating. It isn’t all rhetoric. The mysteries of how that bill appeared and moved — I wanted to know, to connect the dots, to be effective, to help solve problems. I was curious and used the brain training of law school every day.”
Gail made an impression on legislators and staff. Jeralita “Jeri” Costa, former representative for the 38th Legislative District, describes Gail this way: “Gail Stone is one of the most forward thinking, big picture people I know. Gail places a high value on collaboration, especially with those whose voices have been historically left out of discussions that directly impact their quality of life. What I especially admire is that she actively seeks out their voices and input instead of waiting for them to knock on her door.”
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