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Firm Members

James M. Cline

James M. 

ClineJim 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 1986.

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 35 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 300 labor contracts. He has provided counsel in about 160 officer-involved shooting incidents. He has participated in 19 Washington State interest arbitration proceedings.

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, including a soon to be released book concerning the representation of injured public safety personnel.

 

Christopher J. Casillas

ChrisCasillasN.jpgChris 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 what was then known as 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. During his time at Cornell, Chris co-authored an article on the U.S. Supreme Court that was published in the prestigious American Journal of Political Science. 

Chris serves as the firm’s managing partner. Chris helps to manage the nearly 60 different labor unions represented by Cline & Casillas.  He has been the chief negotiator in dozens of negotiations for labor agreements and routinely litigates various contract grievances and unfair labor practice cases. He has also developed an expertise in interest arbitration proceedings, having litigated nearly a dozen such cases in his career. Since 2015, Chris has served on the Client Consultation Committee with the Public Employment Relations Commission, an advisory committee to the State’s labor board.

Chris also serves as a member of the adjunct faculty at Seattle University School of Law as a part-time professor. He teaches multiple courses on advanced Constitutional Law subjects.

 

M. Katherine Kremer

M. 

Katherine KremeKate 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 contracts..

 

Mitchell A. Riese

mitch-4Mitch 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.

Mitch enjoys hiking, traveling and going to music concerts.  

 

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 Derry

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 divides her time at Cline & Casillas between labor and employment law matters. She is extensively involved in building and maintaining the firm’s research resources, including the Premium Website and the Firm’s extensive brief bank. Sarah is also the a Trustee and Executive Committee Member on the Washington State Bar Association's Civil Rights Section, is an active member of the Pacific Coast Labor and Employment Law Conference Planning Committee, a member of the Washington Employment Lawyers Association, and mentors law students.

Sarah is an avid reader and enjoys knitting and hiking with her husband.

 

Geoff Kiernan

Geoff received his B.A. in History and Philosophy from the University of Portland in 2012. He graduated from Seattle University School of Law graduating in 2016 with the academic distinction of the Cum Laudestatus.          

Geoff joined Cline & Casillas in 2014 as a law clerk and was responsible for the labor and arbitration entries in the firm’s law blogs including the Police and Fire Law Blog and the Washington Labor and Employment Blog. He has also read and synthesized hundreds of labor arbitrations involving Public Safety Employees throughout the county the content of which is available through the Firm’s premium website. He is currently working on developing an expertise in interest arbitrations in Washington and adds to the firm’s extensive and growing summary of Washington interest arbitration decisions.

Geoff enjoys cycling, hiking, fishing and generally enjoying the outdoors in the Northwest.

 

Karla Rava

Karla received her B.A. in 2004 and M.A. in 2007 in the field of Sociology, with a concentration in Diplomatic Public Relations, from California State University, Los Angeles.  She was an honor student, published numerous academic papers and  interned for an international embassy during her undergrad and grad program.

Karla joined Cline & Casillas in 2016 as the Office Manager and has worked prior in an operations capacity for an Architecture Firm and Private Investment Banking Firm. She handles all the HR, accounting, marketing and client relations for the firm.

Karla enjoys horseback riding, Olympic style fencing, and being the mother to 7 year old Lucca. She was published in an Architecture book this year and is currently working on her first novel.

 

Paul Diaz

Paul has served in the legal profession as a clerk, legal assistant or paralegal for almost 25 years now. This includes assisting in various areas of law including Bankruptcy (Chapters 7, 11 & 13), Commercial Litigation, Family Law, Product Liability, Business Transactional, Civil Litigation and most recently Labor and Employment. His day-to-day challenges of managing client’s needs and always look forward to working with an intelligent and hardworking group. On his spare time he enjoys golfing, being a father and a new grandfather.

 

 

 

Sarah Burke

Sarah earned her B.A in Secondary Education from Montana State University in 2011, graduating cum laude. Before law school, Sarah spent a number of years as both a public and private sector union organizer. Sarah is currently a third year law student at Seattle University School of Law where she competes both in-house and regionally in mock trial competitions, serves on the Executive Board of the Seattle University Labor and Employment Law Association. Sarah has been a law clerk with Cline & Casillas since 2015, performing research on a wide range of legal topics and writing notes for the firm’s law blogs.

 

 

 

Mathias Deeg

Mathias received his B.A. in History from DePaul University 2012. He is currently a third year law student at University of Washington School of Law, where he is Chief Articles Editor of the Washington Journal of Environmental Law and Policy. Mathias has been a law clerk with Cline & Casillas since 2016.  Mathias researches a wide range of topics including disability law, where he contributes to the firm’s extensive disability case table presented on its Premium website.

 

 

 

   

Riley Curtis-Stroeder

Riley is a recent graduate from Seattle Pacific University with a BA in Political Science, Public Policy and Law. Riley serves as an office clerk at Cline and Casillas, performing a wide range of support functions, including managing and adding information to the firm’s Premium website.

At Seattle Pacific University, Riley rowed for two and a half years on the University’s crew team, including the Varsity boat.  Riley is active in community service.

 

 

 

 

 

 
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