Cline Law Firm

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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." We have more published PERC decisions than any labor law firm in the State. Jim and his attorneys have been involved in 15 interest arbitration hearings with unparalleled success.

Our lead litigators developed their skills as young King County Criminal Deputy Prosecutors and honed those skills further with hundreds of labor and employment cases. 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.

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 Associates is seen as the right choice to be that advocate.


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.


We know the law. Our lead principle, Jim Cline, practically wrote the law. Through the over 100 published PERC cases Cline and his 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.

Cline also “wrote the book” on your rights. "The Rights of Washington Public Safety Employees" is the leading law book on Washington public safety employees’ legal rights. Cline and his staff continue to refine and develop their legal knowledge base and put it to use for your benefit.

Our legal team is supported by a state of the art negotiations and arbitration database. 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.

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’s expense. To provide smaller groups the benefits of our representation, we have willingly extended alternative retainer arrangements without shortchanging other clients.

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.


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.


Cline’s interest arbitration team is known for its thorough and pounding arbitration presentations. Arbitrator’s 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.

Arbitrator Peter Feuille most aptly described the stakes involved in arbitration preparation: Interest arbitration is, above all else, a data contest. Each party tries to bury the arbitrator with data "proving" that its offer on X or Y or Z issue is better than the other party's offer. As a result, there is a premium on each party's ability to collect, organize, and present persuasive data to support its offers, especially its offers on key money issues. learn more

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.

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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