Frank Morris Passes 40 Year Milestone
May 17th, 2017 marked 40 years that Olympia attorney, Frank Morris, has been practicing law.
After graduating from the University of Puget Sound School of Law with High Distinction, Frank has spent the last 40 years litigating complex legal claims.
He has successfully tried thousands of family law/divorce, medical malpractice, and personal injury cases.
His reputation often precedes him, as he has an excellent record in the courtroom and is well-known for being a skilled negotiator and aggressive trial lawyer. Frank has won million dollar claims, and been successful in highly contested custody cases. Frank particularly enjoys working on difficult cases to win the best possible results for his clients.
Frank is the founding member of Morris – Sockle, PLLC and a co-founder of Divorce Lawyers for Men.
We sat down with Frank Morris, and his partner, attorney Jeanne Sockle, for a look back at Frank’s lengthy career in the legal field.
DLFM: What made you decide to be an attorney?
Frank Morris: I know it sounds corny, but I like fighting for the underdog.
Insurance companies like to bully the little guys. Tough attorneys help level the playing field.
Too many attorneys avoid the complex cases, but that is where we are really needed.
DLFM: You’re from Vancouver and attended law school in Tacoma, how did you end up practicing law in Olympia?
Frank Morris: I came to Olympia in 1970 and ‘71 as a Governor’s Intern.
After a couple of more years in the political circle, law school was a good alternative as a way to keep fighting for important issues without running for public office.
DLFM: What has been the most rewarding aspect of practicing law?
Frank Morris: Two appearances before the Supreme Court, where I was able to make changes in the existing case law.
DLFM: 40 years practicing law is a major milestone. What would you say is one key factor in your success?
Frank Morris: Great staff that really did all of the hard work, while I had fun in the courtroom.
DLFM: Speaking of staff… Jeanne, before you became an attorney, and ultimately partners, Frank was your mentor. What was the most important thing you learned from him about the practice of law?
Jeanne Sockle: Be prepared – analyze your position, and that of your opponent, and know your strengths and your weaknesses better than your opposition.
DLFM: How instrumental was Frank in your decision to go from Paralegal to Attorney?
Jeanne Sockle: Frank was a key component in both my decision to go from paralegal to attorney and in my success in doing so.
He was motivational in my belief that I was capable of becoming an attorney and he set a great example of the kind of attorney that I wanted to be.
I was also supremely lucky that Frank first studied to be a teacher and, even though he chose another career path, he is very skilled in teaching and guiding others through complex analysis. He successfully mentored me through my legal studies, for which I will be eternally grateful.
DLFM: You’ve been working with Frank for the majority of his 40 years practicing law. What is your fondest memory of working with Frank over the last 27 years?
Jeanne Sockle: I have a whole host of fond memories over nearly 27 years of working together. The sweetest always focus on our successes on behalf of particularly deserving clients.
Frank presenting his case at the Supreme Court was a very big day.
The most poignant memories are often, unfortunately, associated with devastating circumstances and difficult litigation. There were a few specific particularly hard-fought settlements that he negotiated that were bittersweet, such as one for the wrongful death of a stillborn baby, another for the traumatic death of a young father and husband witnessed by his family, and a settlement achieved while we watched our client wither and die from a missed diagnosis of prostate cancer.
They are all part of the wars that we have fought on behalf of our clients. Frank has always championed the underdog, and as deserving as our clients have been, they were always the underdog when fighting for justice against the insurance industry.
DLFM: What is one of your fondest memories of your career as an attorney?
Frank Morris: Seeing a quadriplegic client doing great, 10 years after I fought the holy war for her.
DLFM: Jeanne, what has been your proudest moment working alongside Frank?
Jeanne Sockle: My proudest personal moment was when I was sworn in as an attorney at the Temple of Justice by the Supreme Court Chief Justice.
It was the culmination of my journey of more than six years to becoming a licensed attorney.
It was a tough road that I very likely would not have accomplished without Frank’s support, mentoring, and guidance.
Otherwise, I am most proud of our current success in shifting the focus of our firm, and building and growing a dynamic family law practice.
We are breaking new ground on a daily basis and I am very proud of our success.
DLFM: Jeanne, what do you admire most about Frank?
Jeanne Sockle: What I admire most about Frank cannot be answered in a single word.
He is a complex and multi-talented character. He is incredibly smart. He is a phenomenally generous person. He is a skilled attorney and an astute businessman. He is not afraid to challenge authority or to buck the establishment. But primarily, he is good person who has dedicated his life to doing the right thing and fighting for justice through our legal system for people who could not fight for themselves.
He has had a career of distinction and served both our clients and our profession very well.
Frank is a person who sets his mind on a goal and succeeds in almost every instance.
All are very admirable qualities.
DLFM: How has your approach to practicing law evolved over the years?
Frank Morris: We do less trials and more mediation.
DLFM: You have a reputation for being an aggressive trial lawyer. Has trial law’s golden age passed or have we yet to reach it?
Frank Morris: I am a Trial Lawyer, and always will be.
It does not matter – trials, arbitrations, or mediations – thorough preparation and aggressive advocacy are required for every case. When I cannot provide that it will be time to retire.
But I do fear that the golden age for real courtroom advocacy has passed.
Juries now want a down-and-dirty, Law & Order type of trial. Not great lawyering.
DLFM: What has been the biggest change(s) in the way law is practiced since you first began?
Frank Morris: Computers.
DLFM: Any words of wisdom for young lawyers just beginning their careers?
Frank Morris: When practicing is no longer fun and exciting, find a new career.
The Celebration – 40 Years in the Making
To celebrate Frank’s accomplishment, Jeanne Sockle threw a “Happy Hour Gathering” at the Morris – Sockle / Divorce Lawyers for Men headquarters in Olympia, WA with friends, family, and associates, past and present.
And it was a blast!
Here are some of the pictures from the event;
(from left to right) Paul Posadas, Stuart Shelton, Steve Foster, Jeanne Sockle, and Frank Morris discuss among themselves as the festivities get underway.
(from left to right) Stephanie Baumann, Saroeun Simeon, Paul Posadas, Stuart Shelton, Steve Foster, Peyton Morris, Frank Morris, and Shannon Morris enjoy the celebratory feast.
Our amazing paralegals, Syndi Cook (left) and Stephanie Baumann (right), enjoying the celebration.
Harold Carr (left) and Frank Morris (right) catch-up on the latest news from both of their law firms.
(from left to right) Samantha Pendergress, Saroeun Simeon, and Ashley Lindeman of Morris – Sockle join in the celebration.
(from left to right) Steve Foster, Stuart Shelton, Dan Swanson, Jeanne Sockle, Paul Posadas, and Saroeun Simeon sample the food while a slideshow of Frank’s past plays in the background.
(from left to right) Harold Carr, Frank Morris, Bill Pope, Terry Church, and Carter Hick gather to acknowledge Frank’s milestone achievement.