Michael H. Hicks, WSBA #4900, admitted in 1972, was a man that I will be forever grateful for and indebted to for the rest of my life. How he handled and approached the ups and downs in life has undoubtedly had a profound impact and influence on me. I'm very fortunate to have been his student and able to call him my friend, mentor, and colleague.
Mike was born and raised in Vancouver, WA and attended Hudson's Bay High School. He then attended the University of Washington and Lewis and Clark Law School. After becoming a member of the Washington and Oregon bars, he practiced with Judge Dean Morgan in Vancouver's first public defenders office. He then went into private practice continuing to work as a criminal defense, personal injury, estate planning and real estate attorney. He practiced law for 42 years.
MIke was an avid outdoorsman who loved fishing and hunting. He knew all the different rivers, streams, types of fish, animals, and birds around the northwest. The local squirrels and raccoons who lived near his home always knew they could get a meal at Mike's house as he made it a point to leave food out for them. I remember asking him why he always left food out for the animals. He responded, " Let's throw you out there in the forest and see how you do Allen!! " He followed it up with a sly smirk suggesting that I wouldn't last five minutes.
Mike was also a history buff, especially military history. He knew all the wars, the players involved, the types and capabilities of military planes used, the weapons involved and the attack plans. He would be happy to educate anyone why a certain mission / war failed and what he would of done differently.
Mike enjoyed practicing law. He liked coming up with strategies, analyzing policy, intent of statutes and how to apply them to cases. Mike didn't like gray areas in the law. He wanted a "yes or no" or "is it or isn't" type of answer, which brings up another trait about Mike. If he asked you a question and didn't know the answer, just say, "I don't know!" He would respect you more if you said you didn't know an answer instead of prefacing your response with: "well," "you know," or some other superfluous line that called the veracity of your answer into question, like I often did.
I worked closely with Mike for 11 years: 5 years as an APR 6 Law Clerk and 6 years as a paralegal / investigator. In those 11 years, I never saw a "slam dunk" type of case come through his office. Every case seemed to have serious and complex issues. Truly, every dollar he made practicing law, was earned.
Mike could speak volumes with his body language and facial expressions. He developed a wrinkle indentation between his eyebrows from scowling so much.
He didn't like the word utilize / utilized. He scolded me using the word in a brief I drafted for him. He said that word came from bureaucratic swindlers. He challenged me to explain why I couldn't have just written "used," instead of "utilized." He also asked me to give him an example of a sentence where I couldn't have used the word "used" instead of "utilized" and have the same meaning. I couldn't. I haven't use the word since.
Sadly, Mike's health declined rapidly. He knew his time on earth was coming to an end. He took solace in the fact that he lived a great life and did pretty much everything he wanted to do. Some of his "check of the things to do list" include: Fishing and hunting just about everywhere, flying a WWII B-52 Bomber, and owning many high horsepower Corvettes and Camaros.
Mike's birthday was a big event. I would remind him that his friends and family, myself included, had difficulty finding a gift for him. What do you buy a person that already has everything? He responded, "I know that, so just get me a gift card to Cabela's, Fisherman's Warehouse or the Ringside Steakhouse, and I'll take care of the rest."
Over the years, I started to think about how does a Korean guy who: doesn't fish, doesn't hunt, doesn't care what type of bird is flying, and over 30 years his junior get along so well with a guy like Mike, who frankly, most people thought was an absolute a-hole. To this day, I still don't have a definitive answer. But discussing law, politics, life and how to solve the world's problems from Mike's perspective surely has got to have something to do with it.
I truly hope Mike is resting in peace.
April 30, 2017 - One of Mike's best friends in the legal community was long time District Court Judge, Vern Schreiber. They became friends while attending law school at Lewis and Clark and Mike, Vern along with local attorney S. Busick had taken the Oregon bar exam together. Apparently, Vern and Busick were burnt out on bar exam study but Mike allegedly "convinced" the two to also take the Washington Bar with him. Mike's mother's home that overlooked the bluff in the Garrison Square area was the study spot. And yes, Busick would drive up in his famous V.W. Bug. This is old school stuff. I think even "Shelley's Rule" was still good law during this time.
Mike and Vern practiced law together early in their careers, largely in Maritime law if you can believe that. They would take trips down to the coast representing fisherman and injured sailors under a famous maritime statute known as the Jones Act.
When Judge Schreiber decided to run for judge, Vern chose Mike to be his campaign manager and used Mike's office as campaign headquarters. I remember Mike saying, " Vern's what a Judge is supposed to be." Judge Schreiber passed in late April 2017. I recently told a long time Prosecutor who knew both Mike and Vern that I like to think that the two old friends have been reunited. He responded, "so do I."