Founded in 1893, Oles Morrison is one of the Pacific Northwest’s oldest law firms. Since the 1930’s, the focus of our practice has been on construction, government contracts, and public procurement. We represent both national and international clients on projects in the United States and abroad. From our offices in Washington, Alaska and California we are able to deploy attorneys who have the experience necessary to provide timely and cost-effective solutions to the most complex problems. With the assistance of a seasoned team of in-house consultants and paralegals, we can provide advice on issues arising from Requests for Proposals and Invitations to Bid, through Protests, Requests for Equitable Adjustments, Disputes, and Terminations. Our attorneys are also able to address the wide range of legal matters that most businesses face: employment, bankruptcy and insolvency, tax and estate planning and business formation.
Founded in 1893 in Seattle, the first partners shared an office under the name Condon & Wright. From the days of John Condon (after whom the existing University of Washington Law School is named) and George Wright, the firm has maintained a commitment to high professional standards.
The firm name changed to Wright, Kelleher & Allen in 1916, with the addition of partner Edward Allen. Beginning in the 1920s, Mr. Allen developed a substantial fishing industry practice which ultimately brought him national recognition and a leading role in international fisheries control.
Growth of heavy construction in the 1930s signaled new prosperity for the Pacific Northwest and a new focus for the firm. The firm became Allen, Froude & Hilen. During that time, the firm’s practice continued to grow and Gerald DeGarmo joined the firm as a partner. His practice emphasized disputes involving the fishing industry, with clients in Alaska and the Pacific Northwest. As the region became a center for development of hydroelectric power, Gerald DeGarmo rose to national prominence as counsel for the leading contractors on the most ambitious of these projects – Grand Coulee Dam. By the time the dam was built, DeGarmo had established the firm’s reputation as the Northwest’s preeminent construction industry lawyers. Its prominent clients included Peter Kiewit & Sons, Morrison‑Knudson, Bechtel, and locally owned General Construction.
Meanwhile, downtown Seattle was growing, too. The firm helped incorporate the Nordstrom stores and represented Alaska Airlines in the early years before both had in‑house counsel. While Northwest businesses have grown to serve a rapidly expanding regional market, the firm has played an important role in their commercial transactions.
In 1950, Stuart Oles and Seth Morrison joined the firm. Augmenting the construction practice of Gerald DeGarmo, Stu Oles litigated some of the most prominent cases in the firm’s history. As a result, he developed a philosophy about the practice of law that contributed significantly to the firm’s success – the function of a lawyer is to help people who have a problem.
In the late 1960s, Bruce Rinker joined the firm. An accomplished litigator of construction disputes, he was the firm’s ethics monitor. His care is this regard was born out of his abiding concern for the clients as well as his interesting life experiences, which included being a prisoner of war in 1943‑44. Mr. Rinker developed a significant construction law practice in Alaska.
In 1971, fresh out of law school, Sam Baker joined the firm. It was natural that he gravitate towards a construction practice – his father was a well‑known contractor.
The firm has continued to embrace the philosophy of its founders and its significant members, finding practical approaches to its clients’ legal issues. In recent years, the firm has expanded its representation to serve the growing regional, national and international activities of its clients. This practice encompasses all of the western states and occasionally other state courts, all federal courts and state and federal administrative and adjudicatory tribunals of all types. The firm is also involved in international practice extending from the Pacific Rim countries to Europe and the Middle East.
In 2012 the firm opened its first office in California.
In the 100 plus years since the first partners opened their general practice, the Seattle metropolitan area has increased its population from roughly 80,000 to more than two million. In the 1890s, it was still feasible for a single lawyer to practice in every area of law. Today, the firm offers the combined experience of more than 25 attorneys to deal with the complex laws and regulations of our modern era. The firm has a solid base of litigation attorneys with expertise in construction, supply and service contracts; corporate practice, insurance coverage matters; and commercial law. As in the beginning, however, Oles Morrison Rinker & Baker LLP remains committed to traditional standards of technical excellence and professional service.