Author: Ross Zimmerman

FROM THE DIRECTOR: OCTOBER 2021

Keeping Up with the Law Librarians

Barbara Engstrom, Executive Director, King County Law Library

Yes, Keeping up with the Kardashians has been cancelled, but never fear, the law library has you covered for the newest trends (at least in law library land.) As we transition into fall, it’s a good time to update you on the latest happenings at the King County Law Library.

The Law Library Foundation Board is Expanding – We are Recruiting Board Members – Join Us!

One of the principal missions of the law library is to facilitate innovative ways to engage with the community. Our SRL Workshop partnerships with SPL and KCLS have taught us that many of those with legal needs have an initial point of contact at public libraries and then are referred to the Law Library. The new Foundation-provided laptops will allow staff to do outreach more effectively in the public libraries and throughout the community as things begin to reopen. We are hoping to create a program where KCLL librarians “ride the circuit” of public libraries in King County to offer legal research assistance at regularly scheduled times.

Another area of interest is spearheading a county-wide legal kiosk project similar to the Minnesota Legal Kiosk project. https://www.legalkiosk.org/about The Foundation envisions legal-help kiosks being placed around King County at community locations hosted by sponsor organizations. Currently, we are projecting two primary applications for the kiosks. The first application will facilitate retrieval of forms and self-help resources at community access points that are easily accessible. The second will create private, virtual connection points for contact with legal aid attorneys, courts, and other legal services providers to eliminate barriers for those without reliable access to transportation or technology.

The KCLLF Board of Directors is expanding and transitioning to a working board. We are looking for new board members excited about advocacy, equity, diversity, building community engagement and fundraising. The Board of Directors currently meets quarterly over Zoom, though we anticipate returning to in-person meetings in the future. Prior board service is not required to apply. Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis.

If you are interested in serving, please forward a current resume and a brief statement of interest to KCLLF Executive Director Kristie Thompson thompsonk@kcllfoundation.org.

Remote Access to WSBA Deskbooks on Lexis Digital — Subscribers

Our e-Book selection on Lexis Digital continues to expand. The WSBA recently partnered with Lexis Digital to offer the suite of WSBA Deskbooks and that collection is now available to subscribers via https://lexisdl.com/library/kcll/ In addition to the Deskbooks, we’ve also expanded our Lexis eBook treatise collection. If there are any Lexis, ABA, or other titles that you would like the library to add to our collection, let us know and we will check on availability.

To find out about becoming a subscriber visit https://kcll.org/services/subscribe/

All Lexis Digital content is available for in-house use at the law library for all KCLL patrons in eBook or print format.

Remote Access to Legal Treatises on Cheetah/ Wolters Kluwer – Free to All KCLL Patrons

While remote access to the Lexis Digital collection is limited to subscribers, our Wolter’s Kluwer treatises are available for free to all KCLL patrons. You will find some of our most heavily borrowed titles including Scott and Asher on Trusts, the Law of Lawyering, the Administrative Law Treatise, and Areda & Hovenkamp’s Antitrust Law.

Our Wolter’s Kluwer treatise collection can be accessed via our Cheetah database. When you register with the law library as a Guest, you will receive at library card number that will allow you to access Cheetah. For more information on registering as a Guest visit https://kcll.org/join-kcll/

Researchers at Your Service — Let Us Do Your Research

For those in the know, the law library’s Let Us Do Your Research service is one of the best deals in town. For solo and small firm attorneys, it’s like having an on-demand, low-cost research assistant who comes armed with tens of thousands of dollars of legal research resources.

Subscribers submit research projects to us through our website. The first fifteen minutes of research is free as our staff reviews the request and determines: 1) if the question(s) fall within the scope of our expertise and our information resources; and 2) if we can meet the request deadline. Once we determine that the question meets these parameters, the subscriber decides if it makes sense to use the service and how much time she would like us to spend. The current rate for approved Let Us Do Your Research projects is $100 per hour, charged in 15-minute increments. Our researchers will limit the amount of time spent on the question to the predetermined amount. If the question takes less time than projected, we only charge for the time spent on the project. Subscribers receive a detailed research memo that includes references to the resources used, summaries of relevant caselaw as well as the full text of cases relied on in the research memo. This service is available only to subscribers.

Here’s what some of our Let Us Do Your Research service users have said:

I presented a fairly complicated question and didn’t want to spend my time down the rabbit hole. I wanted a pro to help me avoid the hours I would have taken to get to first base. I got a call a day after I sent the question from a gentleman who asked perfect questions and engaged in a fruitful and interesting back and forth on the issue. Three days later I got a clearly written road map memo that got me where I needed and then some. Overall great experience. Thank you, money well spent.

Very helpful! The problem with being an older attorney sometimes is I forget about other potential legal avenues I might pursue. In this case your research reminded me of Restatement of Judgments 2nd which gave me an excellent argument to hopefully defeat collateral estoppel

This is great and exactly what I was hoping for. As a solo practitioner who has zero staff, this type of assistance is invaluable. Thank you, again!

Making it Easier to Get What You Need Remotely — 5 Free Document Deliveries Per Month

We know that coming to the courthouse can be stressful in the best of times and is even more so in the middle of this pandemic. To make it easier to use the law library remotely we offer subscribers 5 free document deliveries per month. This can be a case, a section of a treatise, a law review article, or any

other document we have in our collection. We’ll shoot you a copy of the requested material over email. For non-subscribers, document deliveries cost $25 per document.

A Room of One’s Own — Conference Room Reservations

Many of you appreciate having a private, quiet place to use as a base of operations during trial or to strategize over the lunch break. Now that trials are starting to pick up our rooms our starting to book out into the next few months. Be sure to plan well in advance if you would like to reserve a conference room.

Law library subscribers get discounted rates on the use of the law library’s conference rooms. The rate for subscribers is $20/hr and for non-subscribers is $35/hr. Reservations are generally for the lunch period which runs from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. or all day which runs from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Visit https://kcll.org/services/reserve-a-conference-room/ to find out more

What’s New with You?

Have a suggestion for a book/topic area you’d like to see in our collection? Would you like to teach a CLE or a workshop for pro se litigants? Do you have an idea for a new service that the law library could provide? Let us know. Reach out the to law library at services@kcll.org.

From the Director: August 2021

Climate Change and Your Law Practice

Barbara Engstrom, Executive Director, King County Law Library

In the past, a climate change practice might have been primarily limited to environmental laws dealing with technical, regulatory aspects of carbon emissions. The collapse of the Surfside condominium tower, the “heat dome” that brought Las Vegas-level temperatures to Seattle, and the shroud of wildfire smoke that increasingly envelopes the Puget Sound each summer are all stark reminders that the effects of climate change are pervasive and are already impacting virtually every practice area.

It was less than a decade ago that the ABA began the push for rules requiring a duty of technological competency for attorneys. Who would have imagined that in 9 short years that we would be at the point where attorneys working from home and remote court operations would become the norm? To illustrate how quickly regulation can fall behind practice norms, there are 11 states that still do not have a requirement for attorney technology competence, with California only recently approving their rule in February 2021.1

With the increasing speed and compounding effects of climate change, a duty of climate competency for attorneys may be the next attorney competency on the horizon. The ABA has already begun to lay the groundwork with Resolution 111 passed in 2019 which concluded with the exhortation to attorneys to “advise their clients of the risks and opportunities that climate change provides.”2

Within law schools there is an emerging recognition of the need for integration of climate-related instruction beyond niche environmental law seminars and into the core curricula. 3 This goes hand-in-hand with the understanding that attorneys already in practice will increasingly be called upon to provide climate-competent representation regardless of their practice area.4 The following practice areas offer a sampling of what climate change will have in store for attorneys. In good news, there are tools and resources currently being developed that will help attorneys transition to climate-competent representation.

Rising Seas & Coastal Law

Almost every article discussing the Surfside condominium collapse poses the question whether climate change played a role. Regardless of the cause of the collapse in that instance, saltwater intrusion from rising sea levels and severe and frequent storms surges are certainly taking a toll on coastal properties both around the world and closer to home in Washington State. Accretion and subsidence of beach profiles will affect not only the associated property lines but will also impact intertidal aquaculture and coastal freshwater aquifers.5 Part of an attorney’s due diligence for these types of issues will likely involve tracking sea level rise projections for affected properties or industries. Resources like the Washington Coastal Hazards Resilience Network will help attorneys understand sea level rise projections along with risk reduction strategies. https://wacoastalnetwork.com/

Corporate and Securities Law

Corporate

For years corporate involvement in climate-related issues was often relegated to lip-service proclamations that did little other than greenwash a business-as-usual approach. With the acceleration of climate-related litigation however, corporate attorneys are having to reassess exposure as more litigants are choosing to sue corporations for climate impacts rather than focusing primarily on governments.

The key areas of concern for corporate lawyers have been in legal risks from clients, shareholders, consumers and, increasingly, developing government legislation.

But lawyers are increasingly embroiled in avoiding or dealing with the results of transitional risks, notably that of stranded assets, where poor investment decisions on long-lived assets can lead to liability during their lifetime. These transitional risks arise, for example, when greenhouse gas emission limits are tightened in line with climate science, leading to costly upgrade or closure, when a given carbon-intensive or renewable energy technology becomes obsolete and when coastal developments become uninsurable as they are ill-equipped to withstand rising sea levels, storms and flooding. Investors are asking more questions, becoming more activist, and there is growing pressure to divest from carbon-intensive assets. 6

Securities

As financial regulators continue to study the issue and determine how to address impacts of climate change, companies are forging ahead with their own risk/opportunity analysis and disclosure protocols at the behest of investors who want more and better information regarding the effects of climate change on financial assets. These voluntary measures are impacting the course of regulation. Harvard’s Energy and Environment Law Program has a Financial Regulator Climate Action Tracker that monitors developments at various regulatory agencies to update the emerging regulatory landscape. They also have a continually updated Timeline of Investor and Bank Use of Climate Information to give a bird’s eye view of the impact of climate information at financial entities over the last few years.7

Columbia Law School’s Sabine Center for Climate Change Law also has several interesting resources for adapting to climate change for businesses and investors, including Legal Tools for Climate Adaptation Advocacy: Securities Law. 8 The Congressional Research Service Report, Climate Change Risk Disclosures and the Securities and Exchange Commission (April 20, 2021) is also worth a read. https://crsreports.congress.gov/product/pdf/R/R46766

Contract Law

A major component of climate-competent representation involves contract drafting. Climate-conscious contracting helps attorneys manage foreseeable risks, remain in compliance with climate regulations, and respond to consumer demands for climate action. The Climate Contract Playbook, a fantastic, free resource makes this drafting much easier. The Playbook is product of the Chancery Lane Project, https://chancerylaneproject.org/ a world-wide, collaborative effort of attorneys to develop contract language to address climate change issues. The Playbook includes model contract clauses organized by industry and glossary entries to assist in drafting climate-aligned contracts. The industries covered include corporate, insurance, real estate, construction, employment, and litigation & arbitration among others.9

Insurance Law

As climate change-related wildfires, hurricanes, and other natural disasters continue to increase in frequency and intensity, the impacts are felt not only in the immediate environs but have collateral impacts that affect supply chains, energy markets, and local economies. As more of these events occur, insurance rates will rise, and as insurance rates become less affordable, rates of private insurance will go down, potentially leaving states and local governments left holding the bag.

The impact of wildfires on the insurance market seems to be a bellwether for the industry. Generally, homeowner’s insurance covers wildfire loss. However, in many wildfire prone areas, insurers are cancelling existing policies or refusing to insure in the first place, which can impact mortgages. Taking mitigation measures can sometimes help get insurance reinstated but the issue is also causing many to question whether municipalities need to start declaring highly prone wildfire areas off limits to new development.10

Current, standardized insurance models will soon be outstripped by climate-related events and their corollary impacts. The book Climate Change and Insurance11 is available for checkout at KCLL and will help attorneys understand the intersection of climate change and insurance, especially with regard to general commercial liability, directors & officers liability, professional liability and renewable energy-related policies along with other potential liability and exposure drivers.

Conclusion

The aforementioned represent the tip of the (melting) iceberg of practice areas impacted by climate change. For more information on how you can prepare for climate-competent representation, check out the multitude of resources at the King County Law Library. Be sure to use our remote resources from the comfort of your home or office. www.kcll.org. As always, if you need assistance on the or any other topic, please feel free to contact us at services@kcll.org.

 

1 See Bob Ambrogi, California Becomes the 39th State to Adopt Duty of Technology Competence, (March 24, 2021) https://www.lawsitesblog.com/2021/03/california-becomes-39th-state-to-adopt-duty-of-technology-competence.html

2 American Bar Association House of Delegates, Resolution 111’August 12-13, 2019) https://www.americanbar.org/content/dam/aba/directories/policy/annual-2019/111-annual-2019.pdf

3 See Warren G. Lavey, Toolkit for Integrating Climate Change into Ten High-Enrollment Law School Courses, 49 Envtl. L. 513, 516 (2019)

4 See Warren G. Lavey, Training All Law Students and Lawyers for Climate-Competent Representation, (April 23, 2020) https://www.iucn.org/sites/dev/files/content/documents/2020/training_all_law_students_and_lawyers_for_climate-competent_representations.pdf

5 See D.D.Huppert, A. Moore, & K. Dyson, The Washington Climate Change Impacts Assessment: Evaluating Washington’s Future in a Changing Climate, Chapter 8 (Climate Impacts Group University of Washington 2009). doi:10.7915/CIG0MS3K2

6 See Paul Hatchwell, Corporate Lawyers in a Climate of Change (International Bar Association) https://www.ibanet.org/article/82bd7fb4-c46c-4819-a56f-be9d7f683fa6

7 https://eelp.law.harvard.edu/climate-related-disclosure-and-financial-risk-management/

8 See Securities and Climate Finance, https://climate.law.columbia.edu/content/securities-and-climate-finance

9 DLA Piper has a nice overview of the Climate Contract Playbook https://www.dlapiper.com/pl/poland/insights/publications/2020/11/contracting-for-the-climate-the-climate-contract-playbook-is-a-trove-of-climate-clauses/

10 Sophie Quinton, As Wildfire Risk Increases, Home Insurance is Harder to Find (Jan 3, 2019) https://www.pewtrusts.org/en/research-and-analysis/blogs/stateline/2019/01/03/as-wildfire-risk-increases-home-insurance-is-harder-to-find

11 Christina Carroll, Climate Change and Insurance Law, (ABA 2012) https://kcll.bywatersolutions.com/cgi-bin/koha/opac-detail.pl?biblionumber=3966 (FYI – this is the most recent edition of this book)

What is an Answer?

The Answer addresses the allegations contained in the Complaint, paragraph-by-paragraph and either denies them or agrees to them. 

(1) The pleading containing the formal response to a complaint, admitting or denying the alleged claims. (2) A response to the Complaint in which the Defendant either admits or denies the allegations made by the Plaintiff. (3) A reply by the party being sued to the allegations made in the Complaint. 

File and Serve the Answer within 20 Days of Service of the Summons and Complaint: 

  • Under CR 12(a), an Answer must be served within twenty (20) days after service of the Summons and Complaint. 
  • If the Summons was served outside the state of Washington, the time is extended to sixty (60) days after service of the Summons and Complaint. 
  • If the service was made by publication, the time limit is sixty (60) days from the date of the first publication. 

Failure to File and Serve a timely Answer risks the entry of a Default Judgment. Default Judgments occur without notice to the Defendant and they award the Plaintiff everything they asked for in the Complaint. 

State Your Defenses: 

  • CR 8(b) provides that a Defendant’s Answer to a Plaintiff’s Complaint shall state any defenses to each claim. 
  • The defenses must be set forth in short and plain terms. 
  • CR 12(b) provides that certain defenses may be asserted either in the Answer or by motion prior to serving an Answer. 

If Allegations are Not Specifically Denied Then They are Deemed Admitted: 

  • CR 8(b) and CR 8(d) contemplate that the denial of an allegation in a pleading (such as an Answer) shall be made based on the knowledge of the Defendant, and that the allegations will be deemed admitted unless they are denied. 
  • The Defendant may specifically deny a designated allegation. For example: Defendant denies the allegations set out in paragraph no. 1 of the complaint. 
  • The Defendant may also generally deny all of the allegations, except those allegations as (s)he expressly admits. For example: Defendant___________________[name] answers the plaintiff _____________________[name]’s complaint as follows: Defendant____________________[name] denies the allegations in plaintiff’s complaint in their entirety. 

Deny Allegations That You Do Not Have Enough Information to Admit: 

  • It is recognized that a Defendant, at least at the time (s)he is required to Answer, may not know whether a particular allegation is true or not. 
  • CR 8(b), therefore, permits the Defendant to state that they have no information or beliefs sufficient to Answer, and on that basis deny the allegation. 
  • For example: Defendant denies for lack of sufficient information, knowledge and belief the allegations set out in paragraph no. 3 of the complaint. 

 

What is a Notice of Appearance?

A Notice of Appearance is a party’s formal entry into a lawsuit. The term is normally associated with the Defendant, who appears after being served with the Summons and Complaint. 

The Notice of Appearance is a pleading that is filed with the Court, stating that the defendant is appearing on their own behalf or represented by an attorney. 

By filing and serving a Notice of Appearance, a Defendant becomes entitled to notice of all subsequent proceedings. RCW 4.28.210. 

By contrast, if the Defendant fails to file and serve a Notice of Appearance OR an Answer, the case may proceed against the Defendant without notice of subsequent proceedings, ultimately resulting in the entry of a Default Judgment against the Defendant, awarding the Plaintiff everything they asked for in their Complaint. 

A Defendant may appear by filing and serving a written Notice of Appearance, without immediately serving an Answer. RCW 4.28.210. This is the most common means of appearing and it gives the Defendant time to research and draft a formal Answer without the risk of a Default Judgment. 

  • CR 4(a)(3) requires a Notice of Appearance to be in writing and signed by the Defendant or the Defendant’s Attorney. 
  • The Notice of Appearance must be served on the person whose name is signed on the Summons. 
  • You should make a record of the appearance by filing the Notice of Appearance, together with a Certificate of Service, in the Clerk’s Office. 

Appearance by Attorney: 

  • An attorney licensed to practice law in the state of Washington may appear on behalf of their client. RCW 2.44.010 and CR 70.1. 
  • Once an attorney has appeared on behalf of a party, service of pleadings and other papers must be made upon the attorney, rather than the client, unless the court orders otherwise. CR 5(b). 
  • Service on the attorney can properly be made until the lawyer has formally withdrawn from the case in the manner provided in CR 71. 

Pro Se Appearance: 

  • An adult natural person may prosecute or defend their own action pro se, without an attorney. 
  • A party appearing pro se is bound by the same rules of conduct and procedure as an attorney. 

Service of Answer is Appearance: 

  • Service of a formal Answer to the Complaint constitutes an appearance, even if the Answer is not preceded by a Notice of Appearance. RCW 4.28.210. 

 

From the Director: March 2021

Let the Law Library be Your Alexa

Barbara Engstrom, Executive Director, King County Law Library

Imagine having a remote assistant like Alexa but focused squarely on helping you with your legal practice. As a subscriber to the King County Law Library, you essentially have your very own virtual legal assistant at the touch of your phone or computer. Need a case from Westlaw, a section from a WSBA Deskbook or an annotated code section? We can quickly provide what you need. What about jury verdicts or Keyciting? We’ve got you covered. Do you have a thorny legal issue and would like to try out some searches on Westlaw? With our video reference, we can screen share databases like Westlaw or the WSBA Deskbooks and work interactively with you to run customized searches and share links in real time.

The law library can even go Alexa one better. If you are short on time or legal research resources and need someone to do your research for you, we can make that happen too. With our Let Us Do Your Research service you can hand off your search query and leave the heavy lifting to our experienced research staff. As you might guess, having what amounts to an on-demand, low-cost research assistant who comes armed with tens of thousands of dollars of legal research resources has been very popular. We have many very happy repeat customers for this service.

If it’s been a few years since you’ve been a part of the subscriber program, you should take a look at all the new services and benefits we added for subscribers in the past few years. Our goal is to make it as easy and convenient for you to use the law library services as possible, even if you prefer not to come to one of our physical locations. Here’s a quick overview of $100 per year gets you as a subscriber.

Remote Access to Lexis Digital eBook Collection

With our newest member benefit, subscribers get remote access to our eBook collection. The digital library includes all the Matthew Bender and Lexis treatises from our print collection including gold standard, multi-volume treatises such as Corbin on Contracts and Powell on Real Property.

Within the larger collection we’ve carved out a special Washington Practitioner Collection which includes all our Washington specific content in once convenient place. Included in the collection are: Employment in Washington: A Guide to Employment Laws, Regulations and Practice; Washington Business Entities: Laws and Forms; Washington Guardianship Law: Administration and Litigation; Washington Insurance Law; and Washington Law of Evidence among others. The LexisNexis Practice Guides, including: Washington Pretrial Civil Procedure, Washington Trial and Post-Trial Civil Procedure, and Washington Criminal Law, are also available. In addition to the practice sets, we also have the Annotated Revised Code of Washington and the Washington Court Rules Annotated available for remote checkout.

For those of you who, like me, are big fans of the KCBA Washington Lawyer’s Practice Manual, it is available for remote checkout by chapter for your convenience. Lexis Digital has recently acquired the WSBA Deskbooks and those will be available for remote checkout shortly too.

As one of our subscribers recently said:

I cannot tell you how incredibly helpful the Lexis Digital Library access has been over the past month. I have had to do a significant amount of research and I found everything that I needed as well as forms. Research and writing has always been the best part of my job as an attorney and this makes it so much easier for me to do both efficiently.

Let Us Do Your Research

For those times when you are running out of bandwidth and could use a helping hand, subscribers can take advantage of our Let Us Do Your Research service. As I noted earlier, for solo and small firm attorneys, it’s like having an on-demand, low-cost research assistant who comes armed with tens of thousands of dollars of legal research resources.

Subscribers submit research projects to us through our website. The first fifteen minutes of research is free as our staff reviews the request and determines: 1) if the question(s) fall within the scope of our expertise and our information resources; and 2) if we can meet the request deadline. Once we determine that the question meets these parameters, the subscriber decides if it makes sense to use the service and how much time she would like us to spend. The current rate for approved Let Us Do Your Research projects is $100 per hour, charged in 15-minute increments. Our researchers will limit the amount of time spent on the question to the predetermined amount. If the question takes less time than projected, we only charge for the time spent on the project. Subscribers receive a detailed research memo that includes references to the resources used, summaries of relevant caselaw as well as the full text of cases relied on in the research memo. This service is available only to subscribers.

Here’s what some of our Let Us Do Your Research service users have said:

I presented a fairly complicated question and didn’t want to spend my time down the rabbit hole. I wanted a pro to help me avoid the hours I would have taken to get to first base. I got a call a day after I sent the question from a gentleman who asked perfect questions and engaged in a fruitful and interesting back and forth on the issue. Three days later I got a clearly written road map memo that got me where I needed and then some. Overall great experience. Thank you, money well spent.

Very helpful! The problem with being an older attorney sometimes is I forget about other potential legal avenues I might pursue. In this case your research reminded me of Restatement of Judgments 2nd which gave me an excellent argument to hopefully defeat collateral estoppel

This is great and exactly what I was hoping for. As a solo practitioner who has zero staff, this type of assistance is invaluable. Thank you, again!

5 Free Document Deliveries Per Month

Subscribers get 5 free document deliveries per month. This can be a case, a section of a treatise, a law review article, or any other document we have in our collection. We’ll shoot you a copy of the requested material over email. For non-subscribers, document deliveries cost $25 per document.

Discounted Conference Room Reservations

We know that coming to the courthouse can be stressful in the best of times and is even more so in the middle of this pandemic. Many of you appreciate having a private, quiet place to use as a base of

operations during trial or to strategize over the lunch break. Law library subscribers get discounted rates on the use of the law library’s conference rooms.

The rate for subscribers is $20/hr and for non-subscribers is $35/hr. Reservations are generally for the lunch period which runs from 11 a.m. – 1:30 p.m. or all day which runs from 8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Conference rooms tend to book up quickly and once trials resume more fully, we expect this to be the case. Be sure to plan well in advance if you would like to reserve a conference room.

“Curbside” Book Checkout

Subscribers who prefer to research with print materials can take advantage of our “curbside” book checkout. You’ll notice the scare quotes around the word curbside. Our curbside pick-up and drop-off will occur, not on Third Avenue, but on the 6th floor in the rotunda space just outside the law library entrance in Seattle. Subscribers wishing to drop off or pick up materials can schedule an appointment in advance to arrange a time. Appointments will be staggered to create a minimum amount of time spent in proximity to others.

All returned items will be quarantined for 36 hours before they are allowed to return to active inventory. The catalog will be updated to indicate which items are in quarantine and when they will become available to check out.

Your Law Library Alexa Awaits

Become a subscriber to take full advantage of all that the law library has to offer. Your virtual legal assistant is standing by waiting to help you make the most of your time spent on legal research. To find out more about any of these subscriber services go to https://kcll.org/services/subscribe/ As always, please feel free to reach out with any questions to services@kcll.org

What Do I Need to File?

In order to initiate a lawsuit, you must file the original version of the following documents with the Court Clerk: 

These documents must be filed with the clerk’s office before they may be served on the judge and the opposing party. 

Visit the King County Superior Court Clerk’s website: https://www.kingcounty.gov/courts/clerk.aspx

 

What is Service of Process?

 

Service of Process Definition: 

    1. Giving court papers to the other party. 
    2. The formal delivery of a writ, summons, or other legal process, pleading, or notice to a litigant or other party interested in litigation; the legal communication of a judicial process (e.g., service by mail). 
    3. The official delivery of legal documents to opposing attorneys or parties. 

“Service of process” refers to providing the opposing party (or parties) with a copy of the Summons, Complaint, and Case Schedule Order. Service of process is governed by CR 4 and RCW 4.28.080.100. 

In order to complete service of process, you must serve a conformed copy of the following documents on the opposing party: 

    • Summons 
    • Complaint 
    • Order setting Case Schedule (also know as the Case Schedule Order) 

The Summons and Complaint shall be served together. 

In Washington, you must always serve the opposing party in-person. The state of Washington requires personal service of the Summons, Complaint, and Case Schedule Order. 

In order to complete service of process, you must file a Proof of Personal Service form with the Court Clerk after you perform service of the documents listed above. 

 

If the defendant is a corporation 

If the defendant is a corporation or a company, the Summons, Complaint, and Case Schedule Order must be served on the “registered agent.” 

    • Frequently, a member of the company’s Board of Directors is the designated registered agent. They are usually served at the company’s address during  business hours. 
    • You can find registered agents and their office addresses by searching for the Corporation or Company name on the Washington Secretary of State Corporations website: https://www.sos.wa.gov/corps/. 

 

Who Can Serve 

Any competent person over the age of 18 who is not a party to the lawsuit (i.e. a third party) may serve process upon the opposing party. 

    • This means that you cannot provide service to the opposing party yourself, but you can get a friend to complete service. 
    • You may also hire a process server. 
    • For a fee, the Sheriff’s Civil Unit for the county in which you file your complaint will execute service of legal documents by the sheriff or sheriff’s deputy. Find information about service of process by the King County Sheriff’s Department here. 

 

Proof of Service 

You must provide proof of service to the court. 

    • If the sheriff serves process for you, the sheriff will complete and return the “Service Contact Information Sheet” to you. You must provide this form to the Sheriff’s office when you hire them to serve legal documents. You can find this form here. When service is complete and the form is returned to you, you must then file it with the Clerk’s Office. 
    • If a third party, such as a friend, serves process, you must have the person who served the legal documents sign and date a Proof of Personal Service form, return that completed form to you, and then you must file it with the Clerk’s Office.

 

 

 

What is a Complaint?

What is a Complaint?

    1. The first legal document filed in a civil lawsuit.
    2. The initial pleading that starts a civil action and states the basis for the court’s jurisdiction, the basis of the plaintiff’s claim, and the demand for relief.

It includes a statement of wrong or harm done to a plaintiff by the defendant and a request for a specific remedy from the court.

In family law cases, the complaint is called a petition.

The Complaint generally does not go into great detail, but only gives basic information about the alleged wrongdoing. Under CR 8(a), the only requirement for a Complaint is that it must contain: 

    1. A short and plain statement of the claim showing that the plaintiff is entitled to relief, and 
    2. A demand for judgment for the relief claimed. 

CR 8(a) adds that relief in the alternative, or of several different types, may be demanded. Attachments or Exhibits can be included with the Complaint.