Spokane Journal of Business

Kutak Rock to expand its presence in Spokane

Firm adds litigation team, anticipates future growth

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-Alla Drokina
Roy Koegen says the Kutak Rock law firm is emphasizing diversity in its staff.

The Spokane office of Kutak Rock LLP law firm is looking to expand both employee count and floor space. 

Currently at 10 lawyers in Spokane, including a three-person litigation team hired last fall, the firm is looking to grow eventually to 25 attorneys here, partner Roy Koegen says. The firm also has a support staff of seven people. 

When Omaha, Neb.-based Kutak Rock first opened its Spokane office in August 2014, the general focus was public finance, but recently Kutak Rock has hired people for education law practice, which encompasses employment law, public record law, real estate law, and public finance law for school districts, Koegen says. Kutak Rock now has practice areas specializing in litigation, corporate banking law, and real estate law.

Kutak Rock is located on the seventh and eighth floors of the Cutter Tower, at 510 W. Riverside, in downtown Spokane. An expansion into the seventh floor of the building to make room for growth began last October and is scheduled to be completed early next month. 

Improvements involve remodeling the floors, expanding offices, and adding a staircase that connects the floors. The two floors total 4,000 square feet of floor space. Koegen says Kutak Rock might look into adding space on the building’s fifth and sixth floors in the future when staff grows. 

 “It (expansion) was to make sure this was a full-service office that fit into our national footprint,” Koegen says.

New hires in the fall included Heather Yakely, who was an employee at Evans, Craven & Lackie PS for 21 years. Yakely is what the firm calls a transition partner, and she’s scheduled to become a full partner next January. She’s been with Kutak Rock for seven months and has assembled the current litigation team consisting of three women. A fourth team member has accepted a position. 

“Heather and I have known each other for some time,” Koegen says.

The rest of the litigation team includes October hires Geana Van Dessel, transition partner until January 2020, who practiced at Lee & Hayes PLLC in Spokane, and associate Alicia Dragoo, who worked at Kutak Rock’s Irvine, Calif., branch previously. The new hire, Jessica Pena, will begin end of March to bring the litigation team to a total of four.

Koegen says the litigation department will probably double within a year to 18 months.

In its 2018 Diversity, Inclusiveness, and Engagement Annual Report, Kutak Rock nationally was labeled as a “Ceiling Smasher” by Law360 and received Gold-level recertification by the Women in Law Empowerment Forum.

“We’re the only firm in town that has an all-female litigation team,” Koegen says. “In Spokane, you just don’t find that. It’s male dominated.”

 “We’re looking at diversity across the board,” Koegen says.

Yakely’s goal is to grow her team to at least eight litigators eventually, she says. Koegen asked Yakely to come to Kutak Rock specifically to help with litigation as it was not his area of expertise. 

Litigation is a demanding form of law that may not be for everyone, Yakely says. Although the firm tries to pride itself on helping employees achieve a stable work-life balance, certain trials during litigation require more commitment, she says. Yakely says she can gauge competent litigators by their thick skin, confidence, astute nature, and willingness to learn.

Currently, most of Kutak Rock’s work is in the area of public finance law. Kutak’s public finance work extends locally and all over the world in areas such as Puerto Rico, Guam, Arizona, Singapore, Washington state and Montana, Koegen says.

The economic state of the firm is in healthy condition as there is no debt, Koegen says.

 “If we can expand the law firm, hire really good lawyers, pay people well … and not have any debt,” Koegen says. ‘That’s a really healthy sign.”

Koegen says Kutak Rock wants to open up offices in Seattle and in Portland eventually, but the timeline isn’t set, because the plans are contingent on finding the right lawyers who would fit into the Kutak Rock culture and practice areas.

“We don’t grow just to grow,” Koegen says. “We have to have the right attorneys joining us.”

Koegen had moved to Spokane in 1978 after starting his law career in San Francisco. He holds a bachelor’s degree from Gonzaga University and a law degree from the University of California, Hastings School of Law.

Alla Drokina
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Before Alla started as a reporter with the Journal in 2019, she freelanced for The Pacific Northwest Inlander mostly covering culture and food. A breakfast enthusiast, she appreciates the simple things in life like cozy nooks, mystery podcasts, and 90s sitcoms.

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