Wayne A. Williamson, a retired partner of the multi-service, regional law firm Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt, died peacefully on February 28, 2006. He was 84 years old.
Williamson started his career at the firm in 1948. During his tenure, he developed an impeccable reputation as one of the premier trial lawyers in the Pacific Northwest. His diverse civil practice focused primarily on insurance defense, medical malpractice, products liability, real estate and business litigation.
“Wayne leaves behind a lasting legacy at Schwabe,” noted Mark Long, managing shareholder of the Schwabe firm. “He was tireless about providing exceptional legal counsel to our clients, and his style of service contributed to how we practice at the firm today – serving our clients and upholding the law with integrity are our top priorities.”
Williamson was a member of the International Association of Defense Counsel and was an elected member of the American College of Trial Lawyers, a distinction reserved for the top two percent of trial lawyers in the country. He was consistently named to The Best Lawyers in America list, one of the nation’s preeminent peer recognitions in the legal profession.
In 1992, he was chosen by the American Board of Trial Advocates as one of Oregon’s distinguished trial lawyers. Williamson was a member of the Tort and Insurance Practices section of the American Bar Association and served in the Litigation, Judicial Selection, and Uniform Jury Instructions sections of the Oregon State Bar. He received his bachelor of science degree from the University of Oregon and his juris doctor degree from Stanford Law School.
Williamson grew up in LaGrande, Oregon and knew he wanted to be a lawyer by the sixth grade. While that aspiration, however, had to wait for the appropriate time, he was an avid student and athlete throughout his school career.
During WWII, Wayne served three years of active duty in the U.S. Navy as a sonar officer on the destroyer escort Neil A. Scott which was engaged in anti-submarine warfare in the North Atlantic. After his discharge from the Navy, he moved to Palo Alto, CA, where he entered law school. In 1948, Williamson, with his wife, Lois, moved to Portland to practice law and to start a family.
That same year, he joined Wilbur, Beckett, Oppenheimer, Mautz and Souther, a small firm with a history dating back to the 1890's. Wayne became a senior partner in 1962, and with unwavering dedication and hard work, helped the organization grow to become one of the largest law firms in the Pacific Northwest. Since 1987, the firm has been known as Schwabe, Williamson & Wyatt.
“Wayne was a private and humble person who got the job done,” noted John Schwabe, a fellow partner of Williamson’s. “He was admired as a solid professional and was exceptional at choosing the right lawyer for the right case. He was also tireless for a good, honest performance. He didn’t let people, not even judges, cut corners. That means something in our profession. He was a true legal pioneer.”
According to Williamson’s family, he felt privileged to practice law and often talked about his good fortune to have made a career of something he loved so much.