About Joel

In a constantly changing, increasingly automated and competitive economy, attorneys offering professional services must evolve and streamline their offerings to meet the ever-changing needs of clients as well as industry. Joel provides cost-effective and results-oriented legal and government relations services to businesses of all sizes and industries. A combination of creative, humble, innovative, knowledgeable, pragmatic, and transparent legal counsel is utilized to advance client goals, ov... Read more

Practice Areas

Administrative Law
Business and Corporate
Indian and Native Populations
Labor and Employment
Land Use & Zoning

Licenses & Certifications

Washington (2012)



Legal Software

CasemakerFastcaseGoogle ScholarLexis AdvanceWestlawWordGoogle DocsAcrobatOutlook


McKean Smith

Attorney July 2022 - Present

Legal Counsel for Business


Attorney February 2019 - June 2022

  • Administrative Law and Appeals
  • Business Law and Commercial Litigation
  • Government Affairs and Legislati­­­on
  • Hospitality, Liquor and Cannabis
  • Local Government and Land Use
  • Reviewed and analyzed city and county codes and legislation for a code publishing company, and recommend updates and changes to said codes
  • Political and Public Policy Law and Consulting: Represented sponsor(s) of a voter approved statewide tax reduction ballot initiative in constitutional and legal challenges against initiative brought by local governments and other organizations
  • Represented the sponsor of a November 2019 ballot initiative that passed in Washington in a lawsuit challenging the ability of the Attorney General’s Office to defend the initiative competently and diligently without bias  
  • Tax  
  • Transportation and Logistics


Attorney June 2011 - July 2018

  • Multi-practice law firm that provides legal services to small, medium and large businesses
  • Practice areas included administrative appeals and rulemaking, employment, general business, government relations, legislative history, land use, liquor and cannabis, municipal, public policy, real property, tax, trademarks, and transportation
  • Provided digital legal research via LexisNexis as well as print legal research
  • Drafted demand letters and briefs as required, depending on the client's circumstances
  • Generally had three to six cases in active litigation in superior court
  • Depositions, discovery, motions to compel discovery, declarations, motions for summary judgment, motions to dismiss 12(b)(6), responses, replies, summons and complaints, discovery requests, and related documents
  • Successfully appealed an assessment of unemployment charges to a client/employer by the ESD and settled a claim of failure to garnish wages for child support made against the client with DSHS for less than 33% of the amount claimed
  • Successfully litigated and settled a shareholder and employment law dispute involving mortgage fraud
  • Successfully settled a dispute for demurrage fees against a well-known national rail carrier for less than 15% of the amount purportedly due after filing a Motion for Summary Judgment. Performed a regression analysis demonstrating that there was no link between the volume of railcars entering the rail station where client picked up its materials, and the (purportedly) due demurrage fees
  • Successfully appealed ESD assessments of unemployment benefits for terminated employees
  • Researched legislative and administrative history on sales and use tax which led to the settlement of a back-tax assessment from DoR against a prominent Seattle nightclub. The settlement amount was less than 15% of the $250,000 in sales and use tax that was purportedly not collected by the nightclub
  • Litigated and settled a derivative lawsuit filed by a shareholder/employee against his former employer
  • Negotiated, drafted, and edited purchase and sale agreements, security agreements, settlement agreements, and miscellaneous other contracts and "deals"
  • Repeatedly organized successful political fundraisers for both Democratic and Republican candidates for public office, including those running for statewide office and/or other highly prominent races
  • Successfully defended franchise food business owner from discrimination claim filed against it with the EEOC and HRC. The dispute settled for $100.00

United States Senate

Legal Fellow January 2011 - May 2011

  • Health Education Labor Pensions Committee, Subcommittee on Workforce Education chaired by Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA)
  • Analyzed and researched potential legislation involving tax code and 1998 Workforce Investment Act
  • Coordinated with business, government, legislative, and non-profit stakeholders to plan legislation to improve funding for education programs for lower-skilled workers, reauthorized Workforce Investment Act

United States Senate

Legal Extern September 2010 - December 2010

  • US Senate Health Education Labor Pensions Committee Oversight Office. Committee was chaired by now retired Sen. Tom Harkin (D-IA) at the time
  • US Senate investigation into for-profit colleges and universities
  • Compiled and analyzed enrollment and financial statistics using Microsoft Excel and SPSS
  • Analyzed military and veteran’s educational benefit programs, and contributed to first draft of the Committee report on for-profit colleges’ abuse of military and veteran education benefits

Sound Transit

Legal Counsel Intern May 2010 - August 2010

  • Tri-county transit benefit district for the Central Puget Sound region of WA
  • Projects dealt with issues involving land use, federal and state regulations, transportation law, and mass transit development
  • Helped develop initial land use plans to allow for the construction of light rail from Seattle, WA to Bellevue, WA
  • Drafted an agency board of director’s motion and staff report authorizing sale of a bankruptcy claim against Lehman Brothers, legislative session summary, and multiple memorandums on land use and public law

Tulalip Tribes

Law Clerk June 2009 - August 2009

  • Drafted memorandums on federal legislation that resulted in Tribal Law and Order Act of 2010
  • Conducted legal research and drafted memorandums on civil and criminal jurisdictional issues involving Public Law 280
  • Drafted a variety of pleadings for prosecutorial matters

YES on EHJR 4204

Communications Director June 2007 - September 2007

  • Successful statewide referendum campaign to allow public school levies to pass with a 50% majority in WA
  • Responsibilities included advance and organizing media events, coalition building, drafting press releases, elected official outreach, and representing campaign at events throughout WA

NO on I-920

Young Voters Outreach Coordinator June 2006 - November 2006

  • Successful statewide anti-ballot initiative campaign to prevent repeal of the estate tax in WA and maintain funding for public education
  • Organized students and young voters against anti-higher education ballot initiative
  • Represented campaign at events throughout WA


University of California at Davis School of Law

J.D.Graduated in 2011

London School of Economics and Political Science

MScGraduated in 2008

University of Washington

B.A.Graduated in 2007

Georgetown University Law Center

Visiting StudentGraduated in 2011

Contact McKean Smith


655 West Columbia Way, Ste 504
Vancouver, Washington

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