What is a Legal Artisan?

There are many published definitions of the term “artisan,” from which the term artisanal derives. For example, an artisan is defined as “a worker in a skilled trade, especially one that involves making things by hand,” or someone who “produces something (as cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods.” When speaking of artisanal food, which is to say food made by an artisan, we speak of food “made in a traditional or non-mechanized way using high-quality ingredients.” Well, that is how I view the effective practice of law too: as a craft that takes years to have mastered, where the work to be achieved on behalf of each client is handcrafted with care, based on many, many years of experience. Thus, when I speak of myself as a legal artisan, I am saying that for every client I will produce legal solutions with the utmost of care, creating precisely what is needed for you, based on over two decades of doing this important work.

The Importance of Legal Writing.

Even before being a legal writing professor, I was passionate about creating written work-product that was of the highest quality possible. To be honest, much of what lawyers produce in a day-to-day practice is halfhearted and sloppily prepared, full of legalese, and not worthy of being filed with a court. Words matter in the law because words are the most important tools that we have when representing a client. Therefore, it is important that a lawyer be committed to constantly improving his or her skills when it comes to legal writing. Writing is a craft that must be honed and improved through continual practice and reassessment. I have never written a legal brief or settlement letter without taking the time weeks or months later to reread what I created and to assess how I might have made it better. That is how I make sure that for the next brief I write, or the next settlement letter I draft for a client, I do better than ever. At the end of the day, the reason I want to be proud of my written work-product is because that work-product has been done on behalf of a client, and that client deserves nothing but the best from me.

The Importance of Mentorship.

The other important aspect of my practice is mentorship, the careful and committed training of young attorneys so that they too can become legal artisans. Teaching has always been important to me, as evidenced by the four years I was a full-time law professor. I stopped teaching full-time because I wanted to continue to teach, but in the context of an ongoing legal practice. As a result, one additional benefit you will gain from your association with me and my firm is the knowledge that your work will help provide experience to others learning to practice law, and to do so as a real artisan, one committed to the craft of legal practice on behalf of clients who need carefully crafted, custom solutions.

Why Port Townsend?

In many ways, Port Townsend is where I came up with the idea of being a legal artisan and not “just” a lawyer. I started visiting the area, staying at Chevy Chase Beach Cabins on vacation. I was working long hours as an attorney and traveling a lot, and I wanted someplace where I could getaway without getting on an airplane. Plus, we wanted to bring our beloved dog Doyler with us for a “family” vacation. After two years or so, we started looking at places to maybe buy so that we had a getaway that we owned. From there we got the idea of Port Townsend as a second home. More to the point, though, I fell in love with the Farmer’s Market and all the local artisans that make Port Townsend such a great place. And because I was already interested in food and agriculture, from a legal and other perspectives, it occurred to me that Port Townsend would be a great place to start a new kind of legal practice: one based on being an artisan, and one that worked on behalf of other artisans. I would never have arrived at this place in my legal career had I not discovered Port Townsend. And for that I have Doyler to thank.

Stearns Law

  • 14Jul

    Didn't know grief causes pure idiocy. Sad. Many children die tragically. But now USA must pay price of incredible n… https://t.co/SmKlsBO4tN

  • 28Jun

    Good Journalism Requires Clarity, Accuracy https://t.co/ahmtYb1TKG via @TPM And why @danabashcnn is not a good journalist.

  • 23Jun

    What article ignores is red state spatial predominance is built upon a foundation of poverty, poor health, addictio… https://t.co/xUPJ1EWLWp

  • 19May

    https://t.co/PsM7pa3RKnSad event in Port Townsend.

  • 13May

    So true. Such a ridiculous elimination. @altonbrown should be embarrassed. https://t.co/WhWtBMLoM5

  • 14Mar

    RT @aglawllm: Our thanks to Denis Stearns for a great class in food safety litigation! @denisstearns @bmarler https://t.co/W52uF2mhuH

  • 09Feb


  • 22Sep

    RT @CDC_HIVAIDS: #NHAAAD highlights the complex issues related to #HIV prevention, care & treatment for aging populations in the US. https:…

  • 22Sep

    Excellent advice!! I'm going home to do this right after I teach Food Law tonight. (Seriously!) https://t.co/KEPezdRGZ0

  • 06Sep

    RT @lizzieg1: Big Trouble w/ Big Chicken-Workers suffer gruesome injuries,chemical exposure. Co's book record profits @CivilEats https://t.…