If I am going to be your lawyer, you should know a bit about who I am.
I was born in Washington, grew up in Tacoma and graduated from Stadium High School in 1966. My dad was a city bus driver and my mother worked for the Army at Ft. Lewis as a finance clerk. In 1968, I volunteered for the Army. I went to an NCO school, was promoted to the rank of Sergeant, and went to Vietnam. I served in combat units with the 101st Airborne Division. After ten months in-country, I was wounded and sent home. In 1973 I returned to the Army through the Reserve program. I graduated from the Special Forces Qualification Course and was commissioned as an officer. I retired in 1996 with the rank of Lieutenant Colonel. The Army and my combat tour made a man out of me. But, it also left some scars – both physical and emotional. The physical wounds healed. I had to deal with the emotional ones years down the road.
My Legal Career
When I was discharged from active duty in the early 70’s, I really didn’t know what to do. So, I moved to Idaho for three years and followed my passion for skiing and being in the outdoors. I eventually went back to the University of Washington and finished college in 1974. I had long had an interest in law, mainly through movies and books. I had never actually even been to a lawyer myself. But I thought it was fascinating and I was pretty good at debate so I decided to go to law school. I graduated from Northwestern School of Law in Portland, Oregon, in 1978 and moved to Vancouver, Washington where I was offered a job as a new lawyer. I have been there ever since.
My instincts were good. I had found a career that was challenging and fascinating for me. I worked hard to become comfortable and skilled in the court room. Some lawyers pursue an “office practice” where they write contracts or wills or advise clients on business matters. There’s nothing wrong with that; we need lawyers for those things. But, it was never for me. I needed to be in the court room, representing clients, trying cases.
And that is what I have done.
Over the years, I have worked with some of the best lawyers anywhere. I attended Gerry Spence’s Trial Lawyers College and was able to work with the master himself as well as other great lawyers like Paul Luvera, Robert Shapiro, Roy Black and Richard “Racehorse” Haynes. That’s where I met my wife and law partner, Connie. I have been able to get justice for many clients, most of whom would have otherwise been cast aside and ignored by big business, big government and big insurance companies.
It hasn’t always been a smooth road for me. Twenty five years after leaving Vietnam, I had to come to grips with the emotional wounds. It was tough. Combined and connected with those issues was a serious problem I had with alcohol. I had to stop drinking or die. So, I did stop in 1997 as I was getting help for PTSD. I have not had a drink of alcohol since. It was a difficult time for me. The work I did paid off, though. I have enjoyed tremendous success and a renewed commitment to being a lawyer in the courtroom. I am very grateful.
My experiences have given me other gifts. I devote a good deal of time to working with other combat veterans who face similar challenges. I volunteer for veterans groups to provide free legal advice and assistance to veterans who simply can’t afford to pay a lawyer. I also conduct workshops for veterans to assist with readjustment issues. I have been able to combine a life-long passion for flying with this work as well as a volunteer pilot for the Veterans Airlift Command, an organization that provides free air transportation for wounded veterans (who often have a difficult time using commercial air travel) and their families. I also volunteer as a pilot for the Angel Flight organization, flying patients from remote areas for medical treatment, and for Pilots N Paws, flying dogs and cats that would otherwise be euthanized to adoptive families.
I am at the age where many people begin to think about retirement. I just don’t see it for me in the foreseeable future. I love the work I do and, as long as it remains exciting and fulfilling, this is where you’ll find me.
- J.D., Northwestern School of Law, 1978
- B.A., University of Washington, 1974
- Stadium High School (Tacoma), 1966
- Henderson Taylor Law Firm, Founder and Partner (2001 – present)
- Admitted to Washington
- Private practice since 1978
- U.S. Army (1968 – 1970)
- Vietnam (1969 – 1970)
- U.S. Army Reserve (1973 – 1996)
- Retired with rank of Lieutenant Colonel