James M. Cline
Jim received his B.A. with distinction in Political Science from the University of
Washington in 1980, an M.A. in Political Science from UW in 1982, an M.A. in Economics
from the University of Notre Dame in 1986, and his J.D. from the University of Notre Dame Law School in
After passing the Washington State Bar, Jim served as
an associate in a Seattle labor law firm and as a Deputy Prosecuting Attorney for the
King County Prosecutor's Office. Since leaving the Prosecutor's Office in 1990, Jim
has represented law enforcement labor organizations throughout the state.
He has participated in hundreds of cases at every
level of state and federal court and various administrative and arbitration tribunals.
He has made over 30 appellate oral arguments between his appearances at the Ninth
Circuit Court of Appeals, the Washington State Supreme Court and the Washington Court of
Appeals. He has been involved in the negotiation of nearly 200 labor contracts. He has
provided counsel in about 150 officer-involved shooting incidents. He has
participated in 15 Washington State interest arbitration
Jim is a frequent speaker and the author of numerous
articles and two books: The
Rights of Washington Public Safety Employees: Member's Manual and
The Rights of Washington Public Safety Employees: Representative's
Manual. He is currently planning and developing a number of other public
safety labor law books.
Christopher J. Casillas
Chris is a 2003 graduate of the Seattle University School
of Law, where he distinguished himself academically, graduating with the high honors of
Magna Cum Laude, reserved for the top students in the class. Chris previously received
his B.A. with honors in Political Science from the University of California, Santa
Barbara in 2000. After joining Cline and Associates, Chris took a leave of absence in
2006 to attend graduate school at Cornell University in New York. While there, he earned
a Masters of Arts Degree and Ph.D. in Government.
Chris' primary area of practice at Cline &
Associates includes negotiating labor contracts and litigating various contract
grievances and unfair labor practice charges. He has also developed an expertise in
interest arbitration proceedings. Throughout his years at Cline & Associates, he has
served as lead counsel in dozens of contract and interest arbitration grievance hearings,
as well as unfair labor practice hearings in front of the Public Employment Relations
During the 2012-2013 academic year, Chris
joined the adjunct faculty at Seattle University School of Law as a part-time professor.
He was responsible for teaching a course on advanced Constitutional Law.
M. Katherine Kremer
Kate received her B.A. in Political Science from Fairfield
University in 1983 and her J.D. from the State University of New York at Buffalo Law School in 1987.
After graduation from law school, Kate was admitted to the Pennsylvania Bar Association. She practiced several years at the Northwestern Legal Center where she was involved in a variety of civil litigation.
Kate has contributed to the Cline law practice since
1995. Kate's responsibilities include legal research and writing, litigation and
preparation of statistical analysis reports for labor negotiations and interest
arbitration. She is responsible for digesting and summarizing more than a 1000 labor
contracts within the Cline and Associates database. She has prepared the Master Brief that is
the proprietary Cline & Casillas brief used to develop interest arbitration
arguments. She has testified a number of times about her database reports and is likely
the most knowledgeable person in the state on the contents of public safety labor
Mitchell A. Riese
Mitch graduated from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst in 1978 with
the degree in economics. After graduating, he moved west to the University of Oregon
School of Law, where he graduated in 1981.
Mitch has had a distinguished career with over 30
years of wide ranging trial experience in both private law firms and in public and
nonprofit entities. He is an expert in administrative procedures as well as in employment
law. Prior to joining Cline & Casillas, Mitch had represented numerous
employee/plaintiffs with excellent results. He has litigated in nearly all areas of
employment law ranging from disability discrimination to wage claims. He is appeared at
multiple levels of state and federal court and has had many jury trial successes and
successful appeals including ones in the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals.
Mitch continues his employment practice with Cline & Casillas and is available to be retained by individuals for their own employment and
civil rights issues. Mitch also contributes to the firm's labor practice and serves as
the senior litigator in the firm's significant and complex litigation including
arbitration discharge cases.
Erica Shelley Nelson
Erica received her B.A. in Political Science from Western Washington University in June 2001. She graduated from Gonzaga Law School in 2005, and participated as a member of Gonzaga's National Trial Team.
After graduation, Erica moved to California. She worked as a Bay Area litigation and employment attorney for several years before returning to Seattle in 2010. Her work experience in California included employment litigation, and public safety and civil rights defense work. When she returned to Seattle, she worked in litigation, where she furthered her focus on employment law before moving to Cline & Casillas in 2014.
Erica is involved in the firm's labor practice, where she handles grievance arbitrations, unfair labor practices, and other Guild representation matters. Erica also continues her employment practice, representing employees in discrimination and other matters.
Erica has established herself as a prominent member of the Bar Association, including her repeated designation by Washington Law and Politics magazine as a "Rising Star." She has published several articles and professional works, including a chapter in the WSAJ Washington Employment Law Deskbook.
Erica enjoys running and physical fitness. Her achievements include running the Maui Marathon in 2001, and the Big Sur International Marathon in 2013. She also enjoys spending time with her husband, Mike and, two children, Elliot, and Henry.
Sarah earned her B.A. in Economics from Scripps College in Southern California in 2010. She graduated summa cum laude and spent her third year of college at Oxford's St. Edmund Hall, where she joined the crew team. She graduated from the University of Washington School of Law in 2013 in the top 5% of her class, and was a member of Moot Court Honor Board.
After graduation, Sarah clerked for the Justice Winfree of the Alaska Supreme Court in Fairbanks, Alaska. She returned to her home in Seattle after her clerkship, and joined Cline & Casillas in January, 2015. Her previous work experience focused on plaintiff-side employment litigation. She is passionate about helping individuals assert their rights and helping guide employees through this stressful process.
Sarah splits her time at Cline & Casillas between labor and employment and various firm projects. Sarah is also the a Trustee and Executive Committee Member on the Washington State Bar Association's Civil Rights Section, and is an active member of the Pacific Coast Labor and Employment Law Conference Planning Committee.
Geoff is a law clerk at Cline & Casillas.