Washington State

Office of the Attorney General

Attorney General

Bob Ferguson


PO Box 40110
Olympia, WA 98504-0110
800 Fifth Avenue, Suite 2000
Seattle, WA 98104


The Licensing and Administrative Law Division (LAL) comprises 16 attorneys and 10 professional staff in Olympia and Seattle.  LAL provides full legal services to the Employment Security Department, the Board of Accountancy, and the Department of Licensing including those regulatory and advisory boards that are under Licensing’s umbrella, i.e., the Boards of Registration of Engineers and Land Surveyors, Architects, and Landscape Architects; the Geologist Licensing Board; the Collection Agency Board; and the Funeral and Cemetery Board.  LAL also advises the Liquor Control Board, Lottery Commission, Columbia River Gorge Commission, Environmental and Land Use Hearings Office, Pollution Control Hearings Board, Shorelines Hearings Board, Growth Management Hearings Board, Executive Ethics Board, Commission on Judicial Conduct, and the Public Records Exemption Accountability Committee (Sunshine Committee).  Approximately 75 percent of LAL’s work is administrative litigation and defending appeals of agency orders in state superior and appellate courts.  Advising client agencies accounts for the remaining workload.

This mix of litigation and client advice provides challenging opportunities for attorneys with a variety of legal experience, from the new lawyer to the senior practitioner.  Division attorneys are called upon daily to provide legal advice to its agency clients, but they also regularly respond to citizen inquiries.  LAL members have considerable legal and practical expertise in administrative and appellate procedure, responsibilities under the public records and open public meetings acts, due process under the state and federal constitutions, regulatory enforcement of professional licensing standards, and the licensing of drivers and vehicles.   LAL attorneys also regularly handle tribal/state issues.

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Legal Services Provided

LAL provides option-based advice and counseling on a variety of issues, including rule-making, contracts, conforming agency policy to law, proposed legislation, and public record retention and disclosure.  LAL litigates before administrative tribunals, representing client agencies that initiate disciplinary proceedings against regulated individuals and businesses actions.  LAL defends appeals of final agency orders in the superior and appellate courts practice.  LAL defends most actions against client agencies and their employees and officers in state and federal courts.

Steady litigation handled by the division includes:

Employment Security Department:  Appeals in Washington state courts seeking review of decisions granting or denying unemployment benefits and tax warrant cases, usually at the appeal level, in which the department seeks payment of unemployment insurance taxes from employers.

Department of Licensing:   Appeals in superior and appellate courts where drivers challenge their breath test results or their refusal to take breath tests when suspected of drinking and driving.

License suspension appeals in superior court for uninsured drivers involved in vehicle accidents where there is personal injury or property damage.

Disciplinary cases brought before regulatory boards or administrative law judges against professional licensees, such as real estate licensees and vehicle dealers, and tax assessment matters against motor vehicle fuel distributors.

Liquor Control Board: Litigation regarding the implementation of voter initiatives I-502 (legalization of production, distribution and sale of marijuana) and I-1183 (privatization of liquor sales).

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