Anderson, Kauffman win legal awards
Attorneys Neil Anderson and Katie Kauffman were each honored March 11 for their excellence in the courtroom.
Anderson was awarded Trial Attorney of the Year by the Clark County Bar Association at its annual Barrister’s Ball at the AC Marriott Vancouver Waterfront.
Kauffman was given the Rising Star award at Lewis & Clark Law School’s Distinguished Honors Dinner at the Waverley Country Club in Portland.
Both Kauffman and Anderson have felony caseloads of court-appointed cases at Vancouver Defenders and represent retained clients as well.
Anderson, a 1996 graduate of Seattle University School of Law, has been practicing in Clark County since 1999. He was hired by Jeff Barrar, founder of Vancouver Defenders, in 2006.
“Last year, he had six felony jury trials,” said Christie Emrich, owner of Vancouver Defenders, who introduced Anderson at the Barrister’s Ball. “For those who don’t practice in criminal law, that’s a lot. Neil is a criminal defense attorney. We’re not supposed to win. He’s a public defender. We’re really not supposed to win. Neil had those six trials and he had five wins, essentially.” At three trials, juries found Anderson’s clients not guilty. One trial ended in a hung jury, and in another his client was acquitted of a high-level felony but found guilty of a misdemeanor. Only once was his client found guilty as charged.
Emrich acknowledged the months -- sometimes years -- of preparation that go into a felony trial.
“He’s a dedicated attorney, and he’s one of the smartest people I know,” she said. “We have Westlaw, of course, but why would I use it when I have Neil? You can ask him a question, and while Westlaw can give you the cite, Neil can give you the cite and then he’ll rummage around the paper on his desk and hand you the brief.”
She recalled when she first met Anderson. She was a Rule 9 intern and got dropped off at a courtroom by another attorney who told her, “If you have a question, Neil Anderson will know it.”
“The first time I gathered my courage to ask him a question, he looked at me and said, ‘You learn by doing,’ and then he walked away from me,” she said, as the crowd laughed.
Emrich said she reached out to Anderson’s friends and colleagues when preparing her remarks and asked what they would say about him.
“The first thing is, Neil is loyal. He is kind. If Neil stops what he’s doing to talk to you, it’s because he has something to say and you should listen. He has a high moral compass, an ethical bar that he always meets and he makes you want to meet that as well,” she said.
Kauffman was introduced at the Distinguished Honors Dinner by co-worker Marina Spencer, a 2018 graduate of Lewis & Clark Law School. She recalled meeting Kauffman when she was an intern at the Clark County Prosecutor’s Office.
“At one point I was asked if I wanted to handle a particular misdemeanor trial, but the offer was quickly rescinded when they realized who the defense attorney was,” Spencer said. “(A prosecutor said) ‘Are you sure you want to put the intern in trial with Katie Kauffman?’ That case was subsequently dismissed.”
Kauffman, too, got her start as an intern at the prosecutor’s office.
“It was there that legendary defense attorney Jeff Barrar recognized her talent and offered her a job at Vancouver Defenders before she graduated,” Spencer said.
“In Katie’s first two years working misdemeanors, she put probably 20 trials under her belt and quickly gained a reputation as a skilled and zealous advocate—or what we in the defense community call a trial dog,” she said.
She moved up to handling felony cases in 2015 and continued building on her reputation, earning the 2018 Clark County Trial Attorney of the Year award.
“You might think, ‘Is there anything Katie is bad at?’ and yes, there is one thing she sucks at—being on maternity leave,” Spencer said.
Kauffman continued to work remotely throughout her leave, and upon her official return to the office didn’t take it easy with some thefts or burglaries, Spencer said.
“She instead decided to take on a vehicular homicide. That case, by the way? Dismissed.”
Tags: criminal law, Clark County, Neil Anderson, Katie Kauffman