Early in a case or conflict, I identify the outcome drivers or levers for both sides of the dispute. By focusing there, we can find an efficient path to a favorable resolution for the client and focus on a winning strategy.
How I represent clients at Schwabe
A litigator for more than 40 years as a trial and appellate lawyer, I represent diverse clientele such as Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs), mining companies, Fortune 500 companies, privately-owned companies, and public entities. I work closely with my clients to understand their business objectives, develop a sound legal strategy to achieve a good business outcome, and deliver efficient and cost-effective results.
My experience is specialized—I have represented Alaska Native Corporations in a wide range of cases, including real property disputes under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA), land use and royalty agreements, employment and labor relations, professional liability, and the creation and dissolution of partnerships and joint ventures.
With extensive background in natural resources protection and enhancement — particularly in the areas of mining and mineral development — I advise clients on land use, water rights, environmental permitting, and regulatory compliance.
I have argued 24 appeals to the Alaska Supreme Court and handled cases in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit and the District of Columbia Court of Appeals.
I have a strong commitment to the future of Alaska. The Coalition for Educational Equity established and endowed The Howard S. Trickey Constitutional Defense Fund due to my participation in establishing the scope of the state’s constitutional duty to fund and support educational opportunities for students in underfunded, rural schools.
Alaska Native Corporations (ANCs) and Native American law
- Represented an ANC and its joint venture partner in a design negligence case against a national engineering firm. The design team failed to meet the design specifications called for on a sophisticated communications facility for the U.S. Marine Corps at Camp Pendleton. This design error resulted in a multimillion-dollar claim against the design team that was resolved successfully for the client.
- Provided counsel for an ANC against an attorney who settled a lawsuit in a partnership dispute on unfavorable terms and without the client’s consent.
- Represented Alaska Native children, families, and rural school districts to establish the substantive right to education and the state’s duty to support a system of public education that provides an adequate opportunity to succeed (Article IV of the Alaska Constitution). After years of litigation, the State of Alaska agreed to fund pre-kindergarten education and spend billions of dollars on building and replacing rural schools. In recognition of Howard’s efforts, the clients established a constitutional defense fund in his name.
- Advised an ANC in a breach of trust claim against a national bank for recovery of original capitalization under the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA); obtained a $10 million judgment after a six-month trial.
- Successfully represented several different ANCs on misappropriation of trade secrets and proprietary information by departing employees and executives; these cases also involve breaches of covenants not to compete and restrictions on solicitation of customers. In each of the cases, injunctions were issued to prevent the use of and order the return of the misappropriated trade secrets and confidential information.
- Represented ANCs in proxy contests for the annual election of board members. The cases involved the improper use of false and misleading proxy materials to unfairly obtain a seat on the board of the respective corporations; in each case, enjoined the use of the false and misleading materials.
- Provided counsel for an ANC in barring a shareholder from serving on the board of directors after being elected to the board because the director violated the corporation’s bylaws with regard to qualifications to serve and because of a conflict of interest.
- Represented an ANC in invalidating a transfer of property under Section 14(c) of the Alaska Native Claims Settlement Act (ANCSA) because the deed conveyed more acreage than the recipient was entitled to receive under the law and the corporation’s 14(c) land conveyance policies.
- Defended an ANC against claims for failure to make royalty payments to a patent holder of a unique product and fraud claims for misleading the inventor about the capital contributions the corporation would make when it purchased an equity position in the inventor’s company.
- Defended an ANC in an aggressive claim by the potential seller of a company when the proposed transaction did not proceed to a closing. The seller asserted claims for breach of contract, intentional infliction of emotional distress, and sexual harassment based on the alleged failure of the corporation to protect the seller from inappropriate treatment under the corporation’s policies against harassment.
Environmental regulation and litigation
- Represented public officials in a case involving a grand jury investigative report on public waste and mismanagement that limited the extent of investigation and the procedures that an investigatory grand jury could exercise.
- Defended a school district as a potentially responsible party in a claim by the Alaska Department of Environmental Conservation in the cleanup of a PCB-contaminated site.
- Represented a privately owned car dealership in rescinding the purchase of a contaminated site intended for a long-term expansion of the dealership.
- Defended an internationally owned mining company against environmental challenges under the Natural Resources Clause, Article VIII of the Alaska Constitution, to the company’s drilling program, land use permits, and water use permits for development of the largest gold, copper, and molybdenum deposit in Alaska.
- Represented a native village corporation as the surface landowner in a dispute over reasonable access and use of surface estate for road construction and port facilities for a world-class gold and copper mining project.
- Defended a national retail space developer in a state-based Comprehensive Environmental Response, Compensation and Liability Act (CERCLA) claim for cleanup of the second-largest retail site in Alaska.
- Defended an international mining company’s drilling and exploration program from a permitting challenge by an environmental non-governmental organization (NGO) under the Natural Resources Clause, Article VIII of the Alaska Constitution.
- Defended a major mineral development project from a statewide clean water initiative intended to block project development in violation of the limitations on the public’s power to enact laws by initiative under Alaska Constitution Article XI, § 7.
Litigation and dispute resolution
- Represented one of Alaska’s largest privately owned companies in a misappropriation of trade secrets and enforcement of restrictive covenants case against a departing senior executive who copied the company’s playbook to use in setting up a competing business.
- Represented all State of Alaska employees in a class action to recover $130 million in supplemental retirement funds when the state failed to invest and manage those funds in accordance with the prudent investor rule for fiduciaries.
- Defended bank officers and directors in shareholder derivative suits involving breach of duty of loyalty and due care for directors and officers for a failed bank.
- Defended corporate officers in a shareholder derivative suit regarding due care in acquiring a business.
- Represented minority shareholders in dissolutions or buy-out proceedings.
- Represented majority shareholders in the resolution of conflicts with dissenting shareholders.
- Defended the officers and directors of a condominium association sued for breach of duty of due care for failure to adequately insure condominium units for a fire loss.
- Defended a title insurance company in a dispute with underwriters over termination of the underwriting agreement.
- Defended car dealerships in a consumer class action claiming violations of Alaska’s Unfair Trade Practices Act (UTPA) and motor dealership provisions of state law.
- Defended a real estate brokerage firm in a consumer class action claiming violations of the UTPA.
- Defended companies in breach of franchise, nondisclosure, and noncompete agreements.
- Defended a consumer class action against a locally owned real estate brokerage for breaches of duty of loyalty in dual agency transactions authorized under state law.
- Represented a credit union in regards to recovery under a surety bond for losses suffered as a result of officer and employee dealings with a major credit union customer.
- Defended a school district’s bid protests to the award of construction and commercial contracts under state competitive bidding procurement laws.
- Defended public school districts in construction claims for breach of contract and damages due to delays in a project as a result of change orders
- Defended an international design and engineering firm in claims for breach of contract and overcharges by major oil producers.
- Defended the reputational interests of a public official who was the target of an investigatory grand jury and the limits of the grand jury’s power under the fair investigation provision of the Individual Rights Clause, Article I of the Alaska Constitution.
- Represented a public school district in claims under the local government article of the Alaska Constitution, Article X.
- Defending wage and hour class actions under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).
- Defending wrongful discharge cases claiming breach of the implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing, defamation, discrimination, retaliation, and public policy tort claims.
- Defending retaliatory discharge whistleblower cases based on claimed exercise of First Amendment rights, reports of government fraud and waste, reports of Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) violations, and reports of discrimination.
- Defending the denial of equal pay claims under federal and state laws.
- Defending sexual harassment claims and those asserted under the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
- Negotiating and directly implementing the strategy in collective bargaining as the lead spokesman for the employer.
- Strike planning, preparation of plans to weather a strike, and negotiating the end to strikes.
- Preparation and presentation of binding and non-binding interest arbitrations to facilitate or implement the final terms of an agreement.
- Advising and participating in the planning and implementation of major workforce reductions.
- Providing advice and participation in classification and comparability studies.
- Representing employers in over 70 arbitrations involving terminations, disciplinary actions, and contract interpretation disputes.
- Drafting and advising on personnel policies and procedures.
- Conducting internal investigations on allegations of sexual harassment, discrimination, and reports of retaliation in response to protected activity or conduct under federal and state law.
- Advising on wage and hour compliance under the FLSA and state wage and hour requirements.
- Providing counsel on compliance with the full range of federal and state laws prohibiting discrimination on the basis of race, sex, religion, ethnicity, age, disability, and any other protected status under federal and state law.
- The Catholic University of America, Juris Doctor degree (1975)
- University of Wisconsin – Madison, Bachelor of Arts degree (1971)
- Alaska State Courts
- U.S. Court of Appeals - Ninth Circuit
- U.S. District Court - District of Alaska
- U.S. Supreme Court
- American Bar Association, Section of Litigation, Section of Labor and Employment Law, Tort Trial and Insurance Practice Section, Center for Professional Responsibility
- Alaska Bar Association, Employment Law Section, Torts/Personal Injury Law Section (1976-present)
- International Bar Foundation
- Chambers USA: Litigation, General Commercial (2018-2023)
- Best Lawyers in America, Commercial Litigation (2008-2020, 2022), Employment Law – Management, Labor Law – Management (2011-2020, 2022)
- Best Lawyers in America, Lawyer of the Year, Anchorage Labor Law (Management) (2017, 2020, 2022)
- Alaska Super Lawyers (2007-2019)
- Martindale-Hubbell AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated
- Howard S. Trickey Constitutional Defense Fund (established and endowed by the Coalition for Educational Equity in 2012)
- Volunteer Advisor to various non-profits on board disputes and conflicts (1995-present)
- Center for Children and Parents (1978-1985)
- ACLU member and Pro Bono Attorney (1977-1989)
- Board of Directors of Alaska Gold Strikers Soccer Club (1987-1997)
Fly fishing during an Alaskan sunrise.
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