“Even then, he was an Icon”Lori Haskell, Seattle Lawyer, Recipient of WSAJ Carl Maxi award (for commitment to justice) Former Governor of the Washington State Bar Association
“Among the many extraordinary things about Tom Chambers is the way he has mentored, taught, and shared information with hundreds of lawyers, many of whom have been women, including me. For me it started decades ago when I had a thorny problem and was told to call Tom Chambers. Even then, he was an Icon. I called and was told he was in trial. Whew! I was relieved. I was sure that the greatest trial lawyer in Seattle would let that phone message fall right off his radar. At least I could say that I did call him. The next day, to my amazement, he returned my call. I said, “I thought you were in trial.” He answered, “I am, but we are on break; how can I help you.” And thus began a mentoring relationship that has, hands down, been the most important of my career. In addition, a wonderful friendship blossomed which has enriched my life beyond measure.
Tom Chambers took me under his wing and gently, thoughtfully and graciously taught me step by step how to be a trial lawyer. As a young woman attorney I took note of many things and one was that Tom kept a book in his office on the importance of using nonsexist language. He helped me launch my own practice by providing an office in his building which I paid for by co-counseling cases with him 30 hours a month. That was our deal. Everyone thinks that I worked for Tom but that was not our arrangement. I worked with Tom and he referred small cases to me while I built my own practice. He was visibly relieved when I bought a decent car because “everyone thinks I pay you and that I must really be underpaying you.”
Tom hauled me around to trials and arbitrations where I sat second chair. Then he had me first chair an arbitration while he second chaired it. (How about that!) Tom encouraged me every step of the way, was always available to patiently answer the most simplistic questions, pass along wisdom and provide perspective when I was overwhelmed. After four years he (and this is the term he used) pushed me out of the nest and told me to fly so he could mentor another.”
“Legend In His Own Time”William S Bailey, Past Trial Lawyer of the Year, WSTLA, now WSAJ
“There are few who truly are legends in their own time Tom Chambers is one such. A life fully. He has lived a rich life and has added richness to the lives of so many others, including mine. Tom believes there should be a level playing field in the law. Leveling the playing field is wired into his DNA and is the reason he was a great lawyer and Supreme Court Justice. There are hundreds of lawyer who Tom Chambers has mentored and changed their lives. Tom taught us we had a duty to fight for our clients. He told us, “Don’t just go through the motions. Every client deserves your very best.” Just asking myself, “What would Tom Chambers do,” has inspired me to take on and win cases I didn’t think I could win.”
“He always made an independent determination.” Dennis McCurdy, Senior Deputy King County Prosecutor and outstanding appellate advocate
“I have been practicing law for nearly 20 years now, and like you, I have witnessed the winds of change in legal practice and on the bench. Over the years I have been practicing, there have been many changes to the court, the “State’s Judges” and “Defense Judges” and everything in between. I recall (with a smile) one eventful argument where I felt like a spectator at a tennis match between two sparring Justices –I would have had a great seat except for the fact that I felt like I was standing at the net in the middle of the court with balls whizzing by my temples.
As you can imagine, as a practitioner, we “count votes,” trying to predict who it is that will vote in our favor and who it is that we have to convince in order to prevail. You can be proud of the fact that you were always in the category that needed to be convinced. In all my years of practicing before the Court, you were the one Justice who we always knew did not fall into a predetermined camp. You would read the briefs and listen to the arguments with interest, and make an independent determination on the facts and law of the particular case. In my book, this speaks volumes.”
” He taught me never to say it can’t be done.”Karen Koehler, Past President and Trial Lawyer of the Year, WSTLA now WSAJ.
“I thought my best mentor in the law would be a female. I was wrong. It was Tom Chambers. In 1989, no one knew what to do with a female lawyer with a baby who wanted to have a family. But Tom Chambers knew what to do. He hired me even though I would not work full time. He allowed my to breast feed my baby at the office and leave my baby with Sheila when I had to go to court. He taught me never to say it can’t be done. Instead, he taught me just go do it. Just go try it. He has been a mentor and inspiration to me and hundreds of other lawyers.”
“Tom Chambers was an inspiration to me”Terry Abeyta, Yakima Lawyer
“As a young lawyer, Tom Chambers was an inspiration to me. He served as the highest and best example of the lawyer I wanted to me some day. Since both of us were from Central Washington, he made the goal seem more attainable. After learning so much from him as a lawyer, I came to know him as a person. I am so thankful for that opportunity. Knowing Tom Chambers helped make me a better person.”
“He transformed into James Madison”Central Kitsap Reporter, October 7, 2005
“But then there was a stir, some chuckles and a few whispers. Chambers slipped into a white wig and an old-fashioned purple coat with lace-decorated sleeves. He transformed into James Madison, only the head of the cartoon Dalmatian puppy on Chambers neck tie showing above the golden collar of the old-fashioned coat.”
“It was Chambers third visit to [Central Kitsap High School], as they keep inviting him, he said. He has worked this stop into his schedule of speaking at high schools and in front of community groups in the state about law and the judiciary.”
“Chambers said he believes judges need to be among people, to find out what the issues are that concern them. ‘Part of our obligation is to be open,’ he added. ‘And to make sure people understand how the court works.'”
“He is an eclectic justice in the mold of Sandra Day O’Connor.”Seattle Times
“He is an eclectic justice in the mold of Sandra Day O’Connor. He will support property rights for owners and marriage rights for gays — and can cite the reasons for both. His dissent in the gay-marriage case offered a genuine constitutional argument for same-sex marriage, citing the privileges and immunities clause, rather than arguing that his more-conservative colleagues had no reasons for their beliefs other than bigotry.”
“Tom Chambers: Boss of the Year”Marty Dena wrote in her 1978 nomination
“Tom Chambers is a great boss! He is so easy to work for, he is nice, kind and he truly appreciates very much all the hard work that I do and it does not go unrewarded. He has a great sense of humor also which helps a lot in this crazy business.”
“Easy Choice for Re-election.” Kitsap Sun
“Completing his first term, Chambers has earned widespread respect for his balanced, well-analyzed opinions and is endorsed by such diverse groups as police and firefighters, business groups and others. He is an easy choice for re-election.”
“Justice Chambers wanted to return the insurance proceeds”Leon Giles, Sprague, Israel, Giles, Inc.
“You can imagine our surprise when we received a voice mail from Justice Chambers asking to whom he should write a check in the amount of $18,000. Approximately two years earlier Mrs. Chambers had lost her diamond wedding ring while on a trip to Mexico in 2002. We are the insurance brokers for the Chambers and they received insurance compensation in the amount of $18,000 for the lost ring. Two years later Mrs. Chambers found her ring in a tiny compartment of their luggage. Having recovered the ring Justice Chambers wanted to return the insurance proceeds. We feel that reflects his very high level of honesty and integrity.”
“An Abdication of Constitutional Responsibility”The News Tribune, July 28, 2005
“One of the dissenting justices referred to the court’s decision [that the Legislature’s emergency clause attached to a bill amending Initiative 601 so that a simple majority could amend the law instead of a two-thirds majority] as an ‘abdication of its constitutional responsibility to review legislative action.'”
“In his dissent, Justice Tom Chambers described the referendum this way: ‘The referendum is a sword the people gave themselves to slay unwanted legislation. The people also gave the Legislature a shield to protect certain legislation under certain circumstances from the referendum sword. It is ultimately and uniquely the judiciary’s role to assure that both the sword and the shield are used only as constitutionally permitted.'”
“A favor from an old friend”Owen 'Bud' Gardner, Jr, Okanogan, WA
“It is easy to forget that Tom Chambers is still kind of a hokey guy. Like me he grew up in a small town in Eastern Washington in the 40’s and 50’s. He has always preferred the company of working men. We were close friends in law school and Tom went on to a long career of hard work in the law and became very successful and very much professionally respected. When I was asked to write an article for the Black Lamb about a famous person who didn’t seem famous I wrote, ‘A Favor From An Old Friend.'”
“Achieved the Professional Trifecta”Brad Fulton, Everett Lawyer and Past President of WSJA
“What I always appreciated about you was the way in which you never you acted like you “were somebody” even when you were. Whether a WSAJ Statesman, WSBA President, or Supreme Court Justice, you never forgot that you, like the rest of us, put your pants on one leg at a time! I love that quality about you Tom. Those qualities made you, in my view, the best Justice for the “everyday” person.”
“Obviously, your professional accomplishments speak for themselves. I dare say that we will NEVER again see one individual achieve the professional “trifecta” that you did: WSAJ President, WSBA President and State Supreme Court Justice (and then there is the Trial Lawyer of the Year Award).”
“Everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.” Allen Nuttal, Aberdeen
“I was working as a receptionist at Tom Chambers Law firm on Capital Hill. One morning there was a homeless man sleeping on the front porch. Several secretaries were quite upset and I was sure Tom would have me call the police. Instead, he took a cup of coffee to the homeless man. He talked to the man for a while and the man bundled up his things and left. All Tom said when he came back in was, “everyone deserves to be treated with dignity and respect.”
“They have truly given back”Lelia Randle, Neighborhood House
“Tom and Judy Chambers have been wonderful supporters for the low income people who live in Seattle public housing. For three decades the Chambers have been the source of a fund of last resort to meet special medical needs where no other funding sources are available.
Every year they help dozens of people with wheelchairs, walkers, eyeglasses, hearing aids and things as basic as sanitary napkins. Often those who are in need are desperate and have no where else to turn but the fund created by Tom and Judy Chambers.
The Chambers once benefited themselves living in one of Seattle’s low income housing projects and they have truly given back.”