Fun, Information and Golf at a Mountain Resort
2018 WDTL Annual Meeting
Sunday, August 26, 2018
by: Lori O'Tool

Section: Fall 2018

Author Bio

Lori O'Tool is a partner with Preg O’Donnell & Gillett, and practices in the areas of construction defects and worksite accidents, transportation, premises, product and professional liability with significant experience at trial, arbitration, and mediation. Lori received Bachelor of Arts degree in chemistry/marketing, magna cum laude, from the University of Northern Iowa and graduated, cum laude, from William Mitchell College of Law. She is the immediate President of the Washington Defense Trial Lawyers Association, and has previously served as chair of WDTL's Construction Section and Legislative Committee. Outside of her law practice, Lori has served on boards for The Center for Wooden Boats, Seattle Women's Sailing Association, and the Schooner Martha Foundation.
WDTL’s 2018 Annual Meeting at Sun Mountain Resort in Winthrop, Washington, was packed with interesting speakers and topical programming while providing opportunities to network and socialize with our fellow civil defense attorneys.  I could not imagine a more wonderful experience to close out my year as WDTL’s President and move into the distinguished ranks of the organization’s Past Presidents.  A special thank you Jim MacPherson and Jeff Frank for a warm welcome to the Past Presidents group, and their encouragement to stay active in WDTL (I will!). 

WDTL began the convention at Sun Mountain Lodge in Winthrop on Thursday afternoon by again offering a session to Young Lawyers focused on practice development.  WDTL members, vendors, and convention speakers were then treated to a welcome reception that offered beautiful views on the patio with scrumptious food and drink to boot.  The day ended with dine-arounds followed by the Young Lawyer (and young at heart lawyers) nightcap at the lake. 

Friday’s CLEs started off strong with a spirited discussion on the implications of Volk v. DeMeerleer (a Washington Supreme Court decision placing a duty on mental health professionals to warn third parties of potential violence), a review of new Washington legislation (MAR changed to “civil arbitration” and limits increased to $100K) along with what to expect during next year’s session (expanding wrongful death statutory beneficiaries and punitive damages).  There were also discussions on fending off plaintiff Reptile theories during trial as well as advanced trial tactics from animated and fast-talking Prof. James Duane, a law professor at the Regent University School of Law and Fifth Amendment Expert.

Friday afternoon provided the convention’s time-honored golf tournament, and (hopefully) started a new custom of a tasting tour of local wine, cider and beer.  The Lost River Winery pointed out that the conversations from our groups became louder as the afternoon progressed. 

Participating vendors again sponsored a tradition started when WDTL’s Annual Meeting was last held at Sun Mountain: the President’s Party, themed this year as the “Iowa State Fair.”  From pies to butter sculptures to stuffed farm animals and a kissing booth, the party certainly captured the spirit of my outgoing presidency with WDTL.

Saturday’s programming delivered an inside glimpse into our appellate courts and Supreme Court, advice on handling high profile cases in our 24-hour news cycle, and real life ethical dilemmas faced by civil defense litigators.  

The convention wrapped up a spirited silent auction and dessert dash that generously raised needed funds for bringing WDTL exceptional speakers, followed by our business meeting, dinner and awards.  Jennifer Campbell earned the President’s Award for her strategic, forward-thinking, and exemplary leadership given to WDTL.  We sincerely appreciate all the work by the convention chair and incoming WDTL President Peter Richie, his convention committee, and our very capable Executive Director Maggie Sweeney, who put on a superb event. 

WDTL is made up of 700 civil defense trial lawyer members and remains strong through relevant programming, improved communication from our new website, and opportunities for service while remaining fiscally responsible.

In closing, a thank you to our members for your continued support and participation in WDTL.  With your energetic and thoughtful volunteering, WDTL will continue doing what we do well and positively growing our programs, communications, and public service.