Family Law Section

Washington State Bar Association


On June 18, 2011, at the Section’s Midyear Conference and Annual Meeting, held this year in Spokane, Washington, the WSBA Family Law Section presented its annual awards for Attorney of the Year, Jurist of the Year, and Professional of the Year.

  • The Attorney of the Year award was presented to the Washington State Chapter of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers in acknowledgement of its work to advance the practice of family law in the state of Washington. The chapter focuses on improving the quality of family law legal services, and seeks to remain on the forefront of tracking and shaping the ever-changing legal landscape in family law matters, including in the arenas of litigation, mediation and arbitration, collaborative law, legislative advocacy and appellate review. AAML’s Washington state members, many of whom have served in leadership roles in the Family Law Section throughout the years, are a resource to all family law attorneys in the state, and a group devoted to raising the standard of continuing legal education in the State of Washington. The Section and the AAML joined in observing with sadness the passing in 2011 of two luminaries of the family law bar, Mary H. Wechlser and Mabry De Buys.

  • Judge Tari Eitzen, of Spokane County, was selected as the recipient of this year’s Jurist of the Year award in recognition of her dedication and service to her county’s bench and bar, but especially for her overwhelming support and effort in working with the Superior Court Judges’ Association and the WSBA Local Court Rules Task Force to create a comprehensive set of statewide family law civil rules designed to standardize statewide practices and reduce the overall volume of local court rules. Though that project is not yet complete, it is due in no small part to Judge Eitzen’s tenacity that the effort is moving forward with a hope of success looming on the horizon.

  • Ms. Toni Doane was selected as the recipient of the Professional of the Year award following her retirement last year from the WSBA, where she served for more than a decade as the sole liaison between the Bar and its 27 sections. Ms. Doane always made herself available to section leaders and members for questions, to resolve disputes, to assist in decision-making functions, and to provide support whenever possible. Her professionalism and grace stood out in a world where her level of service is not taken for granted. Her presence at the Bar will be missed by all.


At its June 16, 2011 business meeting, the Family Law Executive Committee approved new officers for the 2011-2012 term as follows:
Chair: Benjamin R. Winkelman
Chair-Elect: Shelley L. Brandt
Secretary: Nancy Koptur
Treasurer: Jean Cotton
Richard Bartholomew (Legislative Coordinator), Doug Becker (Webmaster), and Kathleen Schmidt (Newsletter Editor) will each continue in their respective positions. Ruth Edlund will continue on the committee as Immediate Past Chair.