November 2014 Bar Bulletin
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Profile / Ralph Brindley

A Nice Winner

By Gene Barton


Longtime baseball manager and Hall of Famer Leo Durocher got it wrong when he was quoted as saying
"Nice guys finish last." In truth, sometimes the nice guys win.

Such is the case with Ralph Brindley, a 36-year veteran of hard-fought and well-won battles in courtrooms across the Pacific Northwest. In fact, it was Becky Roe who pinned the "nice guy who finishes first" appellation on Brindley in July when the Washington State Association of Justice bestowed its Tom Chambers Trial Lawyer of the Year Award on Brindley.

In her remarks at the awards dinner, Roe, who received the honor in 2008, held Brindley up as the epitome of the all-around nice guy who doesn't believe that "the price of success means foregoing one's integrity.... Ralph's achievements as a trial lawyer demonstrate that you don't have to be a narcissistic, arrogant, a-hole to be a fantastic trial lawyer."

Paul Luvera, Brindley's longtime partner, echoed Roe's sentiment. "I've tried a lot of cases with Ralph and what makes him a great trial lawyer is that he is low keyed in his approach while exhibiting total sincerity and credibility," said Luvera, who retired earlier this year. "Judges trust him and juries respond to his honesty and sincerity. His honest humility and obvious credibility in the courtroom make him a terrific advocate."

Brindley, who was born in Seattle and grew up in Gig Harbor, credits his parents with instilling these qualities in him. His father was a forester who worked with the State at the end of his career, and his mother was a special education teacher. Together, they strongly promoted his own education. Although his inspiration remains a mystery, Brindley says that from the time he was a boy, "I wanted to be a lawyer." His route to the bar was a circuitous one, however.

"I wanted to be a patent lawyer," Brindley said. "I thought it would be fun." But his plans changed after he "almost flunked out in engineering" at the University of Washington. "So, I decided to be a tax lawyer," he said, "and majored in accounting."

But then his number came up - literally. Brindley suddenly found himself among the last class of Army draftees in 1972. "Vietnam was in full flare," he said, and having just graduated with his accounting degree, jungle warfare did not seem too inviting. "If you put in for another year, you got your own duty station," he said. "So, I spent three years in Germany. I was in basic training when Nixon said no more draftees would go to Vietnam. I signed up for that third year for nothing."

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