Sheryl J. Willert
Two Union Square
601 Union Street, Suite 4100
Seattle, WA 98101
Sheryl Willert is a member in the firm’s Seattle office and served as the firm’s Managing Director from 1996-2001 and again from 2006-2013. Ms. Willert continues to serve the firm on its Board of Directors and chairs the firm’s Diversity Committee.
Ms. Willert represents clients in complex commercial and employment law litigation and provides counseling, investigation and alternative dispute resolution services. A national speaker and author on such topics as sexual harassment, sexual orientation discrimination, age discrimination, and race discrimination, Ms. Willert has successfully represented individuals and corporations in such matters. Additionally, Ms. Willert has represented clients in matters involving professional negligence, product liability, personal injury, contracts, and civil rights.
Ms. Willert is a past president of DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar, the nation’s largest association of civil defense attorneys with more than 22,000 members. She has the distinction of being both the first female and the first African-American to serve as an officer of the DRI.
Ms. Willert is also a member of the American Bar Association, the National Bar Association, the American College of Trial Lawyers and the Litigation Counsel of America. She serves on the advisory board for the National Employment Law Institute (NELI) and is on the board of directors of the USLAW Network.
Ms. Willert has been named to Super Lawyers by Super Lawyers magazine every year since the publication began its annual review of Washington's top lawyers in 1998. In 2003, Seattle Magazine named Ms. Willert a "Top Lawyer" in Labor Law. Ms. Willert has also been listed in The Best Lawyers in America for more than 15 years. She has also been recognized by the Seattle Met magazine as a “Top Lawyer” in Labor and Employment for 2010, a designation based upon Martindale-Hubbell's ranking of those practitioners in King County who have been judged by their peers to be “AV Preeminent”—the highest peer-review rating available.
Ms. Willert was named as one of Puget Sound Business Journal's 2007 Women of Influence. Now in its fourth year, the award program shines the spotlight on twenty local businesswomen, community leaders and philanthropists who are "a force in the Seattle community." In 2009, DRI-The Voice of the Defense Bar, the nation’s largest organization of civil defense attorneys, renamed its Pioneer Diversity Award after Sheryl J. Willert. The award, now known as the Sheryl J. Willert Pioneer Diversity Award, recognizes an individual attorney for his or her demonstrated commitment to diversity in the legal profession. In 2010, Ms. Willert was honored as one of the Women of Power in Law at the Women of Color Empowered event hosted by the Northwest Asian Weekly Foundation. In 2011, Ms. Willert received the Loren Miller Bar Association’s Pioneering Woman Award, presented to African-American female attorneys who are trailblazers in the legal profession. In 2013, Ms. Willert was named to On Being A Black Lawyer’s Power 100 list, a compilation of the nation’s most influential black attorneys working in government, academics, and both the private and public sectors. Also in 2013, USLAW Network recognized Ms. Willert for her dedication and service to the organization with the O’Hagan Award. In 2014, Ms. Willert received the Washington Most Powerful and Influential Women Award from the National Diversity Council.
Ms. Willert received her B.A. degree with distinction from Duke University in 1975 and her J.D. degree from Vanderbilt University in 1978.
- Litigation regarding public and private sector wrongful discharge, civil rights, and other labor and employment issues
- Litigation on professional negligence, personal injury, products liability and contract matters
- Investigations for management on internal complaints
- Consultations and representation on wage and hour issues including overtime and prevailing wage
- Consultation with top management regarding long-term employment strategy, recruitment, screening and testing programs and issues
- Review of personnel manuals and employment contracts
- Extensive negotiation and alternative dispute resolution experience
Representative Trial Experience
Sheryl Willert served as deputy prosecuting attorney (criminal division) in King County from May 1978 to October 1979, during that timeframe, she tried hundreds of jury and non-jury misdemeanors. Additionally, between 1978 and October 1979, Ms. Willert tried multiple felonies in categories e.g., homicide, sexual assault, felony drug cases and burglary/robbery.
- Washington State Bar Association
- National Bar Association
- King County Bar Association (Labor Law Section)
- American Bar Association (Labor and Employment Section; Litigation Section; Member, Standing Committee on Continuing Education of the Bar; Member, Standing Committee on the Federal Judiciary: Practitioners Reading Group Regarding Justice Elena Kagan (2010); Alternative Dispute Resolution Section)
- USLAW Network (Chair, 2011 - 2012, Board of Directors)
- American College of Trial Lawyers (Fellow)
- Defense Research Institute (President, 2002 - 2003; President Elect, 2001 - 2002; Chair, Labor & Employment Committee, 1993 - 1995; Member, Board of Directors, 1995 - 1999)
- Federation of Defense & Corporate Counsel (Employment Litigation & Civil Rights Section; Faculty of Litigation Management College)
- Litigation Counsel of America (Fellow)
- International Association of Defense Counsel
- National Employment Law Institute (Member, Advisory Board)
- National Foundation For Judicial Excellence (Chair of the Board, 2008 - Present; President, 2007 - 2008; Vice-President, 2006 - 2007)
- Washington Defense Trial Lawyers
- Washington Women Lawyers
Areas of Practice
- Banking & Financial Institutions
- Civil Rights
- Class Action
- Commercial Litigation
- Crisis Management & Media Relations
- Labor & Employment
- Professional Liability
- School Law
- U.S. District Court (Western Washington, Eastern Washington)
- U.S. Court of Appeals (9th Circuit)
- Vanderbilt University (JD) 1978
- Duke University (BA), with distinction, 1975