In 1990, when I began practicing law at Schroeter Goldmark & Bender, in Seattle, I was assigned an office next to partner Paul Whelan.
Paul had been with the firm for many years and had a reputation as a skilled and successful trial attorney. He handled medical malpractice claims, battled asbestos companies and major corporations in product liability cases. He quickly became a mentor and, more importantly, a friend. If I needed input or advice on a legal issue or the best approach in a deposition, Paul was always there to talk with me.
Learning from Paul Whelan
Over the years, Paul and I worked on many cases together.
An $8.8 million settlement for the families of two victims after the State of Washington failed to properly supervise a parolee. A $7.5 million settlement for a man who suffered a brain injury due to the failure of a medical provider to properly monitor his blood pressure during surgery. And most recently, a $7 million result against a trucking company whose driver caused our client serious burns in a crash. I was fortunate to have Paul Whelan on my side in these cases.
Paul Whelan was confident, and he never wavered in his pursuit of justice—but unlike so many other attorneys, he was not ego driven. He simply wanted to provide his clients with the best possible legal representation.
In 1997, Paul, Mike Withey, Peter O’Neil and I started the Seattle office of Stritmatter Kessler Whelan Withey Coluccio. We worked hard together and brought great justice to numerous clients. In 2014, I decided to start my own firm, Coluccio Law. Although Paul expressed sadness in my leaving the firm, he was one of my biggest supporters and we continued to work together on cases. Paul retired shortly after I left the firm.
Aside from all his legal successes, Paul’s greatest joy and passion was his family. He adored his wife, Kathryn, and was so proud of his children and grandchildren. I recall the family’s kind invitation to Paul’s 50th birthday soon after I joined the law firm in 1990: it was clear that he was a good lawyer not in spite of, but because of the time he made for family and friends.
Over the years, my wife and I would travel to legal programs in Barcelona, California, and Arizona with Paul and his family. Paul always made sure to keep his calendar clear during the month of August, when he would take his boat and family to Desolation Sound in British Columbia. This was important family time and he cherished it, every year.
I learned a lot from my friend Paul Whelan over the years. Work for real justice. Don’t let your ego get in the way. Make time for your family.
Rest in peace, my friend.