Karen Koehler

Karen Koehler, The Velvet Hammer, is keynote speaker at OTLA 2017 Convention!


Karen Koehler, OTLA 2017 Keynote Speaker

Don’t miss Karen Koehler, The Velvet Hammer, keynote speaker at the 2017 Summer OTLA Convention (8/4-8/6) at Sunriver Resort.

Karen Koehler, aka “The Velvet Hammer,” travels the country year round to give presentations to trial lawyers. For lawyers in the Pacific Northwest, mark your calendars for the upcoming Oregon Trial Lawyers Association (OTLA) Convention at Sunriver Resort (Aug. 4 – Aug.6 ). For those of you who haven’t met her in person yet, please understand why she is one of the most sought after trial attorneys in the country: She is a powerhouse in a petite package.

Here’s an excerpt from OTLA’s convention newsletter:

The OTLA Convention Committee has created a stellar line up of programming featuring keynote speaker Karen Koehler from Seattle, also known as The Velvet Hammer™. Koehler is a Washington State Top-10 Super Lawyer—only the second woman to be given the honor. We are thrilled to host her this year and we look forward to her Saturday morning CLE.

First firm podcast: How Karen got the name The Velvet Hammer

The other day, when I watched some attorneys in the courtroom, I was reminded how everyone needs to find their own style. Karen Koehler’s trademark Velvet Hammer style is now legendary. But, the reason why the name fits Karen like a glove is because it captures who she is–inside and outside the courtroom. She hammers away, but people don’t even realize it because of her delivery.

Sit back and enjoy a quick cup of coffee, while you listen to me chat for a few minutes with the Velvet Hammer.


P.S. Stay tuned for more details on how to subscribe to our podcasts via iTunes, etc.

Ride the Ducks returns to the streets

While some, like Ride the Ducks of Seattle’s CEO Brian Tracey, are thrilled to see the Ducks back on the roads, others aren’t. The Stritmatter Kessler firm is representing several of the catastrophically injured from last year’s tragic crash on Aurora Bridge.

(NOTE: On a recent Q13 Fox story about the RTD’s return to the roads, one of our attorney’s is quoted, but her name is incorrectly spelled. It is Karen Koehler.)

School’s failure to teach hearing impaired results in $1 million for student

Jose Garcia is finally set to graduate after a victorious legal battle with Grandview School District,  He was awarded $1 million after the court decided the his school had neglected to address his hearing disability. (Photo: Yakima Herald)

Jose Garcia is finally set to graduate after a victorious legal battle with Grandview School District, He was awarded $1 million after the court decided the his school had neglected to address his hearing disability. (Photo: Yakima Herald)

Born with a severe hearing disability, Jose Garcia and his family thought he would graduate in 2010 with the rest of his class from Grandview High School. But that year, when his mother, Maria, thought he was going to graduate, the ugly truth reared its head: Grandview School District had neglected to address his hearing problem. Instead, the district left him in a special needs class, so that 17 year old Jose was reading at a second-grade level and had the math skills of a third-grader. Without any warning, he was deemed unready to receive his high school diploma. 

The case began in 2010, when Garcia’s mother learned that her son would not graduate with the other 17 year old students at his school. She filed a complaint with the state Office of the Superintendent of Public Instruction against the school district, and the matter was referred to an administrative law judge. The judge, Matthew Wacker of Seattle, ruled in favor of Garcia, ordering the district to provide him with six years of private education after finding that the district had given Garcia work below his grade level rather than adequately addressing his hearing problem. The ruling included a $1,000,000 verdict for Jose.

The district appealed Wacker’s decision in Yakima County Superior Court, where Judge Robert Lawrence-Berry mostly upheld the ruling, but reduced from six to four the number of years the district would have to provide Garcia with private education.

Four years later, Jose is set to graduate at age 22. He now plans to get a technical degree to work as an electrician.

SKW attorney and partner, Karen Koehler, and Richland, WA attorney Kerri Feeney represented Jose Garcia against the school district.

SKW filed lawsuit against Olympus, scope-maker, in Seattle

SKW attorneys filed lawsuit against Olympus, duodenoscope maker

SKW attorneys filed lawsuit against Olympus, duodenoscope maker, for wrongful death of 53 yr old patient. (Photo: CBS News)

Weeks ago, Stritmatter Kessler Whelan attorneys filed a lawsuit in Seattle for a patient, Lisa Miller, who died following a procedure where doctors used an Olympus TJF-Q180V duodenoscope at Virginia Mason Hospital in Seattle. Today, an article appeared in Seattle Times that reports how Olympus issued warnings as far back as January 2013 to hospitals in Europe about the potential for infection when using the exact same scope.

The sealed elevator wire channel in the specialized endoscope is now linked to CRE superbug infections in patients around the country. Reports were made public regarding infections linked to the device in Seattle, Los Angeles and Pittsburgh. Patients died in both Seattle and Los Angeles – the infections have a mortality rate as high as 50 percent due to their antibiotic resistance.

To review your potential case related to a serious injury or death linked to an Olympus scope procedure, please contact us at 206.448.1777 and ask for Karen Koehler or Catherine Fleming.

For additional information, please read our previous blog posts and these Seattle Times articles:

Karen Koehler gets ABA Top 100 Blawg fan favorite again!

For the third year in a row, Karen Koehler earned the most votes in the 2014 ABA Journal Top 100 Blawgs for the Velvet Hammer as the top blog in the Litigation category. With more bloggers (or should we say “blawgers”) entering the blogosphere, all of us benefit from reading their experiences, tips, and personal stories. This is certainly the case with Karen’s blog. From learning more about her experiences at trial to what she dared to wear at the annual Holly Ball, we can’t get enough. Congratulations, Karen! Keep on blawging!

Karen Koehler's Velvet Hammer blog snags ABA Top 100 spot for third year in a row as fan favorite.

Karen Koehler’s Velvet Hammer blog snags ABA Top 100 spot for third year in a row as fan favorite.

Vote for The Velvet Hammer at ABA’s site!

Congrats to Karen for inclusion on the 2014 ABA Blawg 100! Please vote for her in the Litigation category!

Congrats to Karen for inclusion on the 2014 ABA Blawg 100! Please vote for her in the Litigation category!

Karen Koehler’s Velvet Hammer blog was selected again as one of the ABA Journal’s Blawg 100. Editors of the ABA Journal announced yesterday they have selected KarenKoehlerBlog.com as one of the top 100 best blogs for a legal audience.  Now, please go and vote for her blog as your choice for top Litigation blog. Registering (you need to do this to vote) takes only a few seconds. Voting ends at close of business on Dec. 19, 2014.

KarenKoehlerBlog.com has garnered this recognition for five straight years as ABA Blawg 100 and the top pick in the Litigation category.

“No longer to be confused as a fad or the realm of the tech-savvy, law blogs are rooted in the legal media landscape,” ABA Journal Editor and Publisher Allen Pusey said. “While traditional media sources often break news, law blogs dive deeper to offer insight into what the news means for clients, the legal profession and the public. They are sometimes-irreverent watchdogs of the bench and bar. And the ones on our list are well-written and, more often than not, entertaining.”

“Blogging is a way for me to share what I learn. Sometimes, I just want to share a laugh too.” says Karen Koehler, SKW partner and ABA Top 100 Blawger.

About the ABA Journal: The ABA Journal is the flagship magazine of the American Bar Association, and it is read by half of the nation’s 1.1 million lawyers every month. It covers the trends, people and finances of the legal profession from Wall Street to Main Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. ABAJournal.com features breaking legal news updated as it happens by staff reporters throughout every business day, a directory of more than 4,000 lawyer blogs, and the full contents of the magazine.

SKW Karen Koehler Listed as a 2014 Washington Top 10 Super Lawyer


Karen Koehler, SKWC -Photo by Meryl Schenker

Karen Koehler 2014 Top 10 WA Super Lawyers

I wasn’t surprised when I learned that our very own Karen Koehler was listed as one of the Top 10 Super Lawyers in Washington State. When I first shared the news with Karen several months ago, she seemed pleased but did not realize what I had told her. That’s typical for Karen, when she’s focused on preparing for a trial. But I was surprised by her lack of reaction.

Yesterday, when it dawned on her what I was talking about, she gave me a surprised look. When we looked at the statistics, however, we were dismayed (understatement) by the fact that she is only the second woman Top 10 Super Lawyer in the state ever. Second ever. I repeat: only the second woman in the Top 10 Super Lawyer list in WA State. That’s a telling fact, given that there are at least 40% women admitted to the state bar.

But I digress. The fact is that we at Stritmatter Kessler Whelan are thrilled but not surprised that Karen was recognized as a Top 10 Super Lawyer. Congratulations, Karen!!

KarenKoehler.com Snags Tops Spot in 2013 ABA Blawg 100 for Litigation

For the third year in a row, Karen Koehler’s three year old blog has snagged the top spot in its category in the ABA Annual Blawg 100.

KarenKoehler.com earned the most votes for 3rd year in row for 2013 ABA Blawg-Litigation.

KarenKoehlerBlog.com earned the most votes for 3rd year in row for 2013 ABA Blawg-Litigation.

In the previous two years, KarenKoehlerBlog.com was the top vote-getter in the Trial Practice category. However, the categories were redone this year with Litigation absorbing Trial Practice.   If you haven’t checked it out already, you’re missing out on a lot of useful information for litigators as well as some great chuckles.

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