Reflections on where we've come from, and where we are headed:
Attorneys Bill Thayer and Craig Schauermann — founders of Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards PS.
If longevity is the measure for success, we must no doubt be approaching stardom as far as law firms are concerned, as not a lot of lawyer partnerships seem to manage to stay together for more than a handful or two of years. But this one certainly has, and not only has its past been a testament to the firm's stability and success at helping clients with their legal predicaments, but its future is bright.
Thirty years ago, in early June of 1986, Craig Schauermann and Bill Thayer opened the doors on their newly minted law partnership at 1700 E. Fourth Plain Boulevard in Vancouver, Washington, with the blessing and well-wishing of their wives, Norma Schauermann and Lori Thayer. Craig was 34 at the time and Bill was 29, although each had already been in practice for several years, working together first as associates and then as partners at Hazel Dell attorney Darrell E. Lee's law firm, before buying the current office building on Fourth Plain and starting up the Schauermann & Thayer law firm.
Still enjoying every minute of this job and my profession, especially the opportunity to meet and help clients on a daily basis, but also working at a law firm that has in its employ a truly great group of people, located in what I believe is such a beautiful area and comfortable place to live.”
Back then Schauermann & Thayer was just two attorneys with a legal secretary, a receptionist, and a part-time bookkeeper. We handled personal injury, insurance, and wrongful death cases, just as we do now, but Bill also did criminal defense cases, and Craig accepted some family law, adoption, and guardianship cases, and even drafted a few wills for clients, in the early days of the firm's practice. Gradually over the years, the firm grew in size from two to its current constitution of six lawyers, with nine other employees (including four paralegals, a receptionist, a legal secretary, an office manager, an assistant to the office manager, and a file clerk). In contrast to our willingness in the late 1980s to handle a variety of legal matters, the scope of what we practice has since significantly narrowed – today, Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards limits its practice to just personal injury, wrongful death, and insurance cases in Oregon and Washington.
Our firm's scope of practice has been consciously narrowed so that we can be as knowledgeable and sharp in the field of practice we work within as possible – the focus at Schauermann Thayer Jacobs Staples & Edwards is on helping our clients to the best of our ability, being honest and diligent, and not losing sight of why we were brought on board to help in the first place. Typically, our clients in the field of law that we work within come to seek our help because they are dealing with someone or some entity that has harmed them, or an insurance company acting on behalf of the perpetrator of some harm, and the prospective client doesn't believe they are being treated fairly. They usually come to us burdened with pain, financial problems, and a great deal of stress and anxiety. They need knowledge of their rights and remedies, an advocate to take over for them who has experience, confidence, and who will shoulder the burden of dealing with an insurance adjuster who merely sees a claim number and a packet of medical records and bills to be swept under the rug (or worse yet an opposing attorney that seems only interested in denying and obfuscating the truth).
As part of being the solution for that problem, our attorneys and staff continuously make it a point to recognize that each of our clients' cases is important. Calls and communications should be promptly returned. Cases need to be moved along to closure. Clients need to be kept informed of the status of their cases. Care needs to be given to make sure all questions are answered and concerns addressed. Respect has to be shown to everyone in the process of representing the client, starting with the client, and including adjusters, opposing parties and counsel, and to judges and court staff. And, of course, we have to be ever ready to demonstrate our professional excellence and advocacy skills on our clients' behalf when their cases need to be arbitrated and tried.
Striving for those ideals has helped our firm succeed and improve its culture and reputation for over three decades. It has earned us the respect of our colleagues within and without our area of practice, compliments from judges, law enforcement professionals – as well as from some of the insurance claims adjusters and opposing attorneys we match wits with and against in our daily practice – and a steady flow of referrals from all of the above as well as from our many prior clients and their families and friends over the years.
With such a passage of time, however, has also come the inevitability of two of our elder attorneys' long successful careers nearing their end. Thus, Craig Schauermann in 2015 reduced his hours and is now just part-time “of counsel”, as he approaches retirement, and Jeff Jacobs is also now making plans to retire at the end of this year.
But it also has brought an influx of youthful talent and energy to the firm. Scott Staples was elevated from law clerk to associate attorney at our firm in 2007, and has long since been made a partner at the firm. Scott Edwards, who first started his law career doing insurance defense work but decided helping insurance companies versus people wasn't what he wanted to make a career of, came and joined our firm in 2011 and quickly made partner status as well. Most recently, my son Brad Thayer was hired as an associate attorney with our firm in July of 2015. These three young attorneys are in their prime as trial lawyers and have demonstrated an uncanny knack for the law, and tremendous devotion and diligence on behalf of their clients. Likewise, our firm's paralegals and support staff have extensive experience and are all remarkable, hard-working, and caring individuals that are a pleasure to work with and a tremendous asset to us and to our firm's many clients.
And then of course I (Bill Thayer) am still going strong with the firm, as one of its founding partners, now in my 36th year of practice as an attorney handling personal injury and wrongful death cases in Clark County and elsewhere around the state of Washington (and also in Oregon since 2006). Still enjoying every minute of this job and my profession, especially the opportunity to meet and help clients on a daily basis, but also working at a law firm that has in its employ a truly great group of people, located in what I believe is such a beautiful area and comfortable place to live.
Such are my reflections as the 30th anniversary of the Schauermann & Thayer firm threatens to arrive now in just a few weeks. Mostly, on behalf of our firm, I just wanted to acknowledge that we are very grateful for the support of our families, staff, friends, colleagues, and the local legal community – all of whose confidence in us as individual attorneys and in our law firm, respect for our clients, and many and welcome referrals, have made our practice both so rewarding and successful over the past thirty years.