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Lawton Penn

Head of DWT De Novo
Lawton Penn leads Davis Wright Tremaine's efforts to modernize the delivery of legal services to provide more value to our clients’ businesses. DWT De Novo is Davis Wright Tremaine's dedicated legal solutions team. Lawton is an advocate for meeting our client’s changing needs and sees the power of combining excellent legal knowledge with technology, new staffing models, data analytics, and process improvement in order to deliver a more comprehensive solution.

Lawton champions firm-wide client engagement efforts, looking for companies interested in improving the delivery of legal services. She is a frequent speaker on the topic of law firms partnering with clients and other members of the legal community to help in-house counsel both create, and then communicate, value in a language that business understands. 

She has also spent 25 years advising employers on all aspects of the employment relationship. She focuses on high-level, sensitive, employment matters working effectively with executives and boards of directors to resolve matters efficiently and privately. She has extensive expertise in the area of medical leaves, disability accommodation, and pregnancy rights. She resolves employment disputes, develops policies and agreements, conducts investigations, trains managers, and finds creative solutions to ensure that employment issues do not distract the company from its core mission.

Representative Experience

Designed new model for handling high-volume employment claims that includes online matter tracking, data capture for continuous process improvement and trends analysis, alternative staffing approaches, and annual reporting of metrics.

Conducted investigation into allegations of CEO violations of conflict of interest policies, reporting findings to board of directors.

Participated on DWT’s presentation team that led to two consecutive annual awards as “Innovative Law Firm of the Year” as conferred by the International Legal Technology Association, 2015 and 2016.

Represented publicly-traded technology company defending Sarbanes-Oxley retaliation claim brought by former general counsel, both before the Department of Labor and in U.S. District Court.

Supervised numerous investigations involving extensive electronic evidence, computer forensics, and complicated issues relating to maintaining privileged nature of investigation and communicating results.

Provided advice to publicly-traded company in connection with significant reduction in force, including analysis of WARN Act issues, development of severance pay strategies, conducting adverse impact analysis, and creating documents related to same.

Defended and then negotiated successful resolution of class action lawsuits alleging that company violated provisions under California law related to provision of meal periods, rest breaks, expense reimbursement, and other wage and hour compliance.

Conducted dozens of management training programs in industries ranging from fish processing, parking, and engineering to technology and professional services, on the topics of discrimination law, harassment, effective performance feedback, wage and hour, compliance with FMLA and leave laws, and conducting investigations.

Defended major medical institution in audit by Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs of their affirmative action programs.

Defended audit by Washington Employment Security Department seeking unpaid taxes for workers classified as independent contractors.

Conducted attorney-client privileged internal audit of organization's compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act and reasonable accommodation process.

Advised multiple employers on situations involving employees with performance problems compounded by complicated disability accommodation issues, including terminal illness, to help the employers achieve goals with minimal disruption to the work environment and no legal exposure.

Additional Qualifications

  • Judicial Extern, Hon. Barbara J. Rothstein, U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • Davis Wright Tremaine Executive Committee, 8 years
  • Chair, Davis Wright Tremaine Employment Law Practice Group, 2003-2007
  • Davis Wright Tremaine Diversity Committee, 2000-2004

Professional & Community Activities

  • Advisory Board, American Employment Law Council
  • Vice-president, Board of Directors, King County Sexual Assault Resource Center, 2015-present
  • Board of Trustees, A Contemporary Theatre, 1995-2003
  • American Bar Association

Professional Recognition

  • Named one of "America’s Leading Lawyers for Business" in Labor & Employment (Washington) by Chambers USA, 2003-2018
  • Named one of the "Best Lawyers in America" in Labor & Employment Law by Best Lawyers, 2003-present
  • Named one of the Puget Sound’s "Forty under 40" by Puget Sound Business Journal, 2005
  • Selected to "Washington Rising Stars," Thomson Reuters, 2004-2006
  • Selected to "Washington Super Lawyers," Thomson Reuters, 2008-2018
  • Named one of the "Fastcase 50" by Fastcase, 2017
  • Named one of "155 Top Lawyers" by Seattle Magazine and Seattle Business Monthly, 2007
Held in high esteem by market sources, one of whom reports, "I think very highly of her." -Chambers USA 2017
Davis Wright Tremaine Repeats as Innovative Law Firm of the Year
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