Sound Law Center, LLC is the umbrella organization for Sound Hearings and Sound Mediation. We are professional attorneys and planners who are committed to resolving disputes. We concentrate on dispute resolution in the land use arena. We work with government agencies, land developers and neighborhood groups to resolve disputes in an efficient and fair manner. Our dispute resolution techniques include serving as Hearing Officers, Mediators and Educators. Each technique brings a different focus to resolution of conflict.
The responsibility of a Hearing Officer is to provide an objective review of the facts of an application and then apply the goals and ordinances of the jurisdiction to make a decision. In order to develop a record necessary to make a decision, it is imperative that all interested persons be encouraged to present all relevant facts at the hearings through oral or written testimony. In doing so, the Examiner must create an atmosphere that demonstrates courtesy to witnesses and acknowledgement of their opinions. Recent court decisions have made it clear that damages will be assessed if a City does not follow appropriate decision making procedures. We know how to adhere to legal requirements of procedural due process to help prevent liability exposure.
A Mediator must help those involved in a dispute to find a resolution. We believe a Mediator must be actively involved in the process of seeking solutions. Once found, a Mediator must "capture" the agreement in a way that will provide a lasting resolution. We have a record of success in mediation at all levels of a dispute; from the type of fence to install to the mitigation requirements for a large school. A Mediator must be committed to resolution of disputes. We are.
An Educator can help others to be more involved in dispute resolution. Much of the success of dispute resolution depends upon communication techniques. We teach effective communication and how to apply those techniques to help resolve disputes, both as a mediator and as a decision-maker. We also provide up-to-date information on how the law applies to shape the type of dispute resolution available and that will "pass muster" with courts if challenged.
Our professional services are provided by Sound Hearings and Sound Mediation under the auspices of Sound Law Center, LLC. Mr. Hunter is the Managing Director of each of these organizations, and has affiliated with other professionals to provide a diversity of experience and the best possible service. Those affiliated with Sound Law Center include:
Ted Hunter: Ted received his law degree from the University of Washington and was trained in mediation techniques at Willamette and Harvard Universities. His trial experience involved representation in land use matters for developers and environmental groups at all levels of the state and federal courts. Mr. Hunter also served as Legal Counsel to the Washington State Legislature on energy and environmental matters.
Ted was selected as the Chief Negotiator for the Legislature in matters involving land use proposals at the U.S. Hanford Nuclear Reservation. He established and is past Chair of the Dispute Resolution Section of the Washington State Bar and is a member of the Association for Conflict Resolution. He is also a member of the American Planning Association and the Washington & American Bar Associations. He is a Land Use Hearing Examiner and Mediator for over twenty cities in Washington State. Ted enjoys marathon running, guitar playing and singing in several groups.
Lee Raaen: Lee graduated from the University of Oregon law school in 1975. Lee has represented clients on land use, real property and toxic waste/environmental issues before hearing examiners, the Washington state shoreline hearings board, various Washington state superior and appellate courts, and united state federal district courts and ninth circuit federal court of appeals. He's also served as an arbitrator since 1981 for the king county superior court mandatory arbitration system, and has tried and rendered decisions in more than 30 lawsuits.
Ron McConnell: Ron has extensive experience in both the public and private sector. He was a Principal of the McConnell/Burke, Inc. planning firm for over eighteen years and he previously directed the King County Building and Land Development Division (now known as the Department of Development and Environmental Services); the Land Use and Environmental Planning Division of the Puget Sound Council of Governments (now known as the Puget Sound Regional Council);l the Washington State Land Planning Commission; the Planning Departments for the Cities of Bremerton and Redmond, Washington, and the Planning Department for NBBJ, a Seattle based architecture/planning consulting firm.
He is active in the American Planning Association (APA) and has held various chapter offices. He was President of the Washington State Chapter for the 1981-1983 term and Chairman of the APA Washington State Chapter Conference in 1996. He was inducted into the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Certified Planners at the Annual Conference of the APA in New York City in 2000.
Mr. McConnell served as a Design Commission member for the City of Mercer Island and as a Planning Commission member for the City of Redmond. He has taught urban planning courses and served on the Visiting Committee for the College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the University of Washington.
In recent years, he has spent most of his time as a "circuit riding" hearing examiner for a number of jurisdictions. He has heard and issued reports on approximately 2,500 land use cases. His extensive background and pragmatic approach provide a sound foundation for his role as a hearing examiner.
David Ortman: David E. Ortman is an attorney who helps prepare draft findings and conclusions based on exhibits and testimony presented at hearings. He also manages the Legal Writers who work for Sound Law Center. David was formerly a law clerk with the firm of Gendler & Mann; a firm that focused on environmental and land use litigation. David has extensive experience in shoreline and wetland policy. He has testified before numerous Congressional, state legislative and federal and state agency hearings on wetlands, water quality, water resource, shoreline, special area management planning, and coastal and land use issues. He has written extensively on the Clean Water Act and wetland issues. David served on the Department of Interior's OCS Policy Advisory Committee and on the Washington State Office of Marine Safety Advisory Committee. His B.A. is in Environmental Studies from Bethel College (KS), and he joined the Washington State Bar Association through the Rule Six Law Clerk program in 2006.
Kristen Larson: Ms. Larson is a graduate of the University of Wisconsin, where she received a Bachelor of Science degree in Biology cum laude with emphasis on environmental science and landscape planning, and the University Of Washington School Of Law, where she received her Juris Doctor with emphasis on land use law, environmental law, and mediation. Through experience as a Hearing Examiner in Woodinville, Issaquah, Kenmore, and Kitsap County, she knows land use issues, how to conduct a hearing, how to handle evidentiary issues, and how to follow proper procedures.
Ms. Larson is also Chief Legal Writer at Sound Law Center, where she has drafted over 200 land use permit decisions, SEPA and permit appeal decisions, and administrative orders for the Hearing Examiner. She is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, a guest lecturer at the University Of Washington, a National Business Institute Ethics in Land Use Law course presenter, and serves as 2010-2011 President-Elect of King County Washington Women Lawyers.
Prior to joining Sound Law Center in 2006, Ms. Larson served as a law clerk for the U.S. Department of Justice Environment Division and as a legal intern for the U.S. EPA. In addition to land use law, Kristen has expertise in SEPA; Washington municipal, property, and water law; Tribal relations; and hazardous materials clean up and site remediation. Kristen's research on northwest fisheries regulation was published in the Harvard Environmental Law Review.
Shara Svendsen: Shara Svendsen is a graduate of University of Washington Law School, where her interests ranged from immigration and human rights to admiralty and water law. During law school, Shara externed with the Western Washington Growth Management Hearings Board, preparing a memo discussing the "best available science" requirement in the Growth Management Act. In addition to her work as a legal writer for Sound Law Center, Shara is also the chief editor, reviewing the decisions and recommendations drafted by the other writers in the office. She lead SLC's first in-house legal writing CLE. Shara enjoys swimming and hiking, and completed her first triathlon this summer.
Kim Allen: Ms. Allen is a graduate of the University of Michigan, where she received a Bachelor of Arts degree in Political Science, and Michigan State University College of Law, where she received her Juris Doctor Cum Laude. Ms. Allen has been involved in municipal law for many years. She currently is a member of the Redmond City Council with responsibility for review and evaluation of land use issues including comprehensive plan amendments, land use code changes, quasi-judicial oversight of land use decisions, and GMA compliance. Prior to joining the Council in 2005, Ms. Allen was Vice Chair of the Planning Commission with responsibility for preparation of transportation management plans, updates of critical area ordinances, updates of the shoreline master program, and review of zoning code amendments. In this role, Ms. Allen conducted numerous public hearings prior to making decisions on land use matters.
In addition to her direct experience in municipal land use decisionmaking, Ms. Allen has extensive background in the judicial system including representation of state agencies in administrative, superior and appellate court forums. She also has experience drafting proposed regulations and legislation. She is a member of the Washington Bar Association and sits on the King County Growth Management Planning Council. Ms. Allen brings this breadth of experience to the bench as a Hearing Examiner. She knows land use issues and is intimately familiar with land use law as it applies to municipalities. She also knows how to conduct a hearing, how to handle evidentiary issues and how to avoid the pitfalls of liability for failure to follow proper procedures.
Paul Brachvogel: Mr. Brachvogel is a SLC Hearing Officer serving primarily in Southwestern Washington and Oregon. He also serves several cities as a City Manager-Attorney with over 15 years of experience in managing and consulting local governments. He's been Legal Counsel in matters before Hearings Examiners, Boards of Adjustment, Planning Commissions, and the Courts on LUPA Appeals. He is experienced with the GMA, local zoning ordinances, the Shoreline Management Act and the State Environmental Policy Act. He's been a Judge Pro Tem, Deputy Prosecutor, Municipal Prosecutor, Special Prosecutor and Public Defender. Paul is a graduate of the University of Washington, DePaul University, and Whittier Law School. He is a member of the American Bar Association, Washington Bar Association and a variety of community organizations. Paul and his family reside in Ridgefield, Washington.