Cline Law Firm
 

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Expert

We are relied upon to represent public safety labor groups throughout the State of Washington because of perceived expertise. Our lead principle, Jim Cline, is the author of two books on public safety labor law, including "The Rights of Washington Public Safety Employees." The Cline and Casillas interest arbitration team have more published PERC decisions than any labor law firm in the State. Jim and his attorneys have been involved in 22 interest arbitration hearings with unparalleled success. The Firm's widely followed blogs ( Washington Contract Negotiations Blog, Washington Labor and Employment Law Blog, and the Police and Fire Labor Blog, detail the latest developments in the law. Jim Cline is the author of two books on public safety labor law, including THE RIGHTS OF WASHINGTON PUBLIC SAFETY EMPLOYEES.

Our three lead litigators have a combined 68 years' experience. Cline developed his skills as young King County Criminal Deputy Prosecutors and honed those skills further with hundreds of labor and employment cases. Senior litigation Counsel Mitch Riese has 30 years of practice the majority of which encompassed employment litigation. The latest addition to our litigation team, Erica Shelley Nelson has already established her reputation to the point of being identified as a "Rising Star" by the Washington Law and Politics magazine.

But in our view, our expertise is not demonstrated simply by our litigation success, but also by our ability to recognize and negotiate for results outside of litigation. We apply documented experience and knowledge of the law to pursue the best possible outcome.

Success in contract bargaining and enforcement requires knowledge of both labor law and the relevant arbitration standards, combined with a persistent and steady pursuit of your rights. When you are at the bargaining table, you need a wise and knowledgeable advocate that understands how to negotiate the best possible deal. When you enforce that agreement and the employer is violating your rights, you need an advocate that is capable and committedThroughout the state, Cline and Casillas is seen as the right choice to be that advocate.

Effective

We don’t win all of our cases. No one does. But we have demonstrated a willingness and capacity to tackle the hard cases.  When your rights are at stake, you want a tough advocate standing in your corner. With the right resources and the right knowledge, we have a track record of picking the right battles and getting the right results.

We put our record in negotiation and arbitration up against anyone. Anyone. We believe our interest arbitration record of beating the employer’s final offer in Washington arbitrations is unmatched. That stems, we think, from knowing how to pick and fight the right battles. Successful negotiation is built, not on capitulation, but on compromise involving shrewd calculations of the potential risks and benefits.

We go to battle with the intent to prevail and with the support of our advanced proprietary resources, including our state of the art Database. Once again we put up our resources for comparison against anyone. We think those resources, combined with our knowledge in using them, are the key to our demonstrated arbitration and negotiation success.

We truly believe that “knowledge is power” and that entering negotiations with dated, incomplete and limited data will guarantee that you will leave money on the table. We strive not to leave any of your money on the table. Throughout the state, our clients attest to our persistence and skill in striking the right deal.

Excellence

We know the law. We practically wrote the law. Through the over 130 published PERC cases Cline and Casillas and their attorneys have presented the cutting edge arguments that established or refined case precedent. Cases establishing the right to prevent unilateral changes in health insurance premiums, health insurance coverage, minimum staffing, safety practices, workload quotas, light duty policies, position assignments, union release time, discipline procedures, just cause protection and other important working conditions have been handled by Cline and his attorneys. We have been involved in leading cases expanding the right of employees to be free from workplace discrimination and engage in union activities. And we have broadened the right of labor organizations to engage in collective bargaining by restricting management rights, and confirming the union right to demand information from employers.

Senior Partner Cline virtually and literally "wrote the book" on your rights. His book, "The Rights of Washington Public Safety Employees" is the leading law book on Washington public safety employees' legal rights. Cline and Casillas and their attorneys continue to refine and develop their legal knowledge base and put it to use for your advantage.

Our legal team is supported by a state of the art negotiations and arbitration database. Cline and Casillas are supported by Kate Kremer. Kate graduated from law school in 1987 and has been an integral part of our arbitration and negotiations team since 1995. We constantly update our resources to ensure that we present the best and up to date information to make your case as strong as it can be. Our 15 year investment in our database and related proprietary resources totals in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. When you retain us, you are acquiring a share of that investment. Cline and Associates has an abiding commitment to continue to refine and develop its tools.

We know that excellence also requires efficient and cost-effective delivery of services. You and your members have finite resources. Intelligent decisions have to be made about allocating your legal resources and thoroughness has a cost. But, we emphatically reject the budget model of public safety representation that underestimates the long term impact of how you approach your representation issues.

Our service model is based on what we consider a “value” model of representation.  Such a model, we believe, distinguishes itself from “budget” representation systems by refusing to extend retainers below a rate necessary to achieve appropriate staffing and support. We believe that low bid arrangements often lead to diminished service. Perceived lower cost representation systems that reduce actual effectiveness, in the long run, are more expensive to you and your members.  We believe our “value” model of representation strikes a sensible balance between on cost without sacrificing necessary quality.

Budget retainer systems, in our estimation, fall short on the penny wise, pound foolish principle. When a simple half percent difference in the settlement can cost you $30 per month, we think saving $5 to $10 a month on budget retainers is not sensible. Our retainer pricing model seeks to fairly charge organizations for their services and does not involve one group subsidizing another at another expense. To provide smaller groups the benefits of ur representation, we have willingly extended alternative retainer arrangements without shortchanging other clients. We are committed to bargaining at the table for as many sessions as it takes to get the right deal and, if settlement is not achieved, arbitrating with the most forceful and thorough possible case. We are not intimidated or eclipsed by big firm lawyers.

We have an uncompromising commitment to quality. We reinvest your retainer payment in our always improving services and information resources. We also strive to provide proper staffing with fair employee compensation and benefits. With our dedication and years of experience, we pursue your interests. Our track record demonstrates that we get the job done right.

Ethical

We are passionate about our commitment to employee rights advocacy. And we pursue that with professionalism that we think public safety employees would want.

We strive to win, but not at any cost. Our reputation and effectiveness hinges on our ability to provide honest advice and honest advocacy. We are proud of our service to democratic public safety labor organizations throughout the State of Washington. These organizations have the chief advantage of being directly responsive to their members’ interests. Our role as an honest counsel is critical to the success of that mission.

We recognize that employee run labor organizations reflect the values of the people in them. Our goal is to help you identify and pursue your interests. With our skill and commitment, we enable labor organizations throughout the state to function effectively.

We recognize that democratic labor organizations will reflect the sometimes competing interests of members. We don’t take sides in that competition. Our loyalty is to the organization and ultimately the members it represents. We issue formal and informal legal opinions in a wide variety of contexts and each time we do so with the commitment to be honest providers of legal advice. Your members can trust in the integrity of our counsel.

Emphatic

The Cline and Casillas interest arbitration team is known for its thorough and pounding arbitration presentations. Arbitrators even comment on our thoroughness, with one referring to the number of “lineal feet” of trial exhibits.

This level of preparation, no doubt, has been even more noticed by the Employers and their legal counsel. When your money is on the table and being litigated in arbitration the matter is serious.  Half-measure or budget representation efforts, we believe, will often cost you more than you save in the retainer.

We don’t see a conflict between powerful advocacy and cost-effective service delivery.    We don’t “reinvent the wheel” each time we go to trial ― we sharpen the well-developed “wheel” that we’ve built over the last 15 years of hard work.  We put our investment to your use. We realize there are different theories of case preparation, but we believe that budget representation can be very expensive in the long run. As we've said, we believe in the "value" model of representation.

Effective and thorough representation produces more than good trial results. Sometimes it can avoid the trial.   We believe that Employers who recognize the magnitude of what they are up against will calibrate that into their risk/benefit assessment. So we strive to intensify the magnitude of what Employers are up against. We think your interests are important and you deserve resolute advocacy.

 

 
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