Legal Eagle

In just a few weeks, Stoel Rives, Oregon’s largest law firm, will move into its new headquarters in the Park Avenue West. Managing partner Wally Walkenburg discusses the firm’s new offices, disruption in the legal profession and why Stoel Rives is still just saying no.

Describe your new space

All the office walls will be glass. So we’ll get a lot more light into the interior of the building. We have decks on both the north and south sides of the building on our lobby level. So we get that spectacular view of the river.

How the move will reinvigorate the firm

We’re looking at this as a way to reenergize our sense of being a team. We’ve got collaboration rooms on each floor. We have interior stairwells. We will be able to see each other as walking along the walls. 

How clients are demanding change

It’s a world where you don’t get to tell the client that you’re going to have a certain number of lawyers on the matter. The client is going to want to know who they are, why they’re on it and is it necessary to have so many lawyers. It’s not so different than other professions, but it’s a little harder for lawyers because we’re not trained to be as adaptive as we should be. 

IMG 2161New practice areas

Portland is a city that has had a lot of successful startups.  We’re seeing a lot of software, it’s a very robust part of our practice.  The whole litigation area has changed.  A lot more clients are saying: we have a disagreement here, but we don’t want to spend millions of dollars to get it resolved. Our litigators are much more involved in mediation and arbitration.

On your radar

One of the new things for us is cyber security. Clients expect their data is going to be protected. All of us have to go through cyber security training. We’re ever vigilant. 

How cost of law school is reshaping profession

For anybody looking at graduate or professional school: Don’t borrow beyond what you think you’re going to be able to afford to repay. It’s really one of the crises of our time that we’ve got ourselves into this situation where it costs so much for kids to go to college and we have put so much of the burden of covering that expense on them.  Even good jobs in the legal profession don’t allow you to service a $200,000 debt.

Explain your marijuana policy

At this time we are not taking on growers, producers and sellers. We will represent people who supply the industry.  There is a concern about the fact that is still illegal under federal law.

So you’re not on the bandwagon

There are a number of people here who think we should be on that bandwagon and a number of people who think we shouldn’t.

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Related Story: Building Bonds: As construction resumes on the Park Avenue West Tower, a friendship between a lawyer and a Portland architect comes full circle.

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