Karolyn A. Hicks
Shareholder | Seattle
Karolyn has a commercial litigation practice, focusing on large complex business disputes, trust and estate litigation, and disputes between members of closely held companies.
In her 20 years of private practice, Karolyn has handled cases on behalf of major corporations, closely held businesses, fiduciaries and individual parties. She has successfully represented parties in their roles as trustees, personal representatives, attorneys-in-fact, beneficiaries, heirs, and members of limited liability companies.
- Washington, 2000
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington (2000)
- U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington (2001)
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit (2001)
- American University, J.D., cum laude, Note and Comment Editor of the American University Law Review (2000)
- Pennsylvania State University, B.A. in Administration of Justice, Women’s Studies and Philosophy, cum laude (1997)
Recognition & Honors
- Lawyer of the Year for Trust & Estates Litigation by Best Lawyers (2020)
- Fellow of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel
- Best Lawyers in America in Litigation - Trusts and Estates (2017 - 2020)
- Washington Super Lawyers (2013 - 2019)
- Top 50 Women Lawyers, Washington Super Lawyers (2014 - 2015, 2017, 2019)
- Top 100 Lawyers, Washington Super Lawyers (2014)
- Top-Rated Lawyer in Trust & Estates, American Lawyer Media and Martindale-Hubbell (2015)
- AV Preeminent Peer Review Rated, Martindale-Hubbell's highest ranking
- Top-Rated Lawyer, West Coast, National Law Journal (2017)
- Outstanding Young Lawyer of the Year, King County Bar Association (2008)
- Rising Star, Washington Super Lawyers (2011 - 2012)
- On behalf of co-trustees and co-personal representatives, prevailed at trial level and on appeal in trust interpretation lawsuit with beneficiary. In re Estate of Ellstrom, 2019 WL 2423343 (Div. I June 10, 2019) (unpublished)
- Obtained favorable Court of Appeals ruling in will contest defending decedent's intent as expressed in his Revocable Trust. In re Estate of Bernard, 182 Wn. App. 692, 332 P.3d 480 (2014), review denied, 181 Wn.2d 1027 (2014)
- Successfully defended personal representatives against claims for removal maintained by beneficiaries in several different Estate cases.
- Successfully removed a personal representative on behalf of Estate beneficiaries.
- Successfully defeated claims against personal representative/beneficiary in a will contest.
- Successfully negotiated favorable settlement for a beneficiary in highly contested will contest.
- Prevailed in suit for removal against attorney-in-fact.
- Obtained judgment confirming $8.5 million arbitration award for T-Mobile, USA, Inc. against Qwest Corporation for reimbursement of unlawful and improper messaging charges on local telephone calls in violation of the Telecommunications Act of 1996.
- Obtained arbitration award on full value of claim, plus attorneys' fees for T-Mobile, USA, Inc. on dealer contract dispute.
- Obtained favorable defense verdict for AT&T Wireless Services, Inc. in a contract dispute with one of its work force management vendors over an intellectual property license fee associated with the workforce software.
- Litigated on behalf of Amazon.com against its insurer for litigation costs Amazon.com incurred defending three major patent infringement lawsuits in Western District of Washington 2006.
- Obtained favorable summary judgment, upheld on appeal, for InfoSpace, Inc. in a contract dispute with an Internet content provider.
- Obtained preliminary injunction in federal court for T-Mobile, USA against one of its former dealers engaged in unauthorized use of trademarks and unlawful telemarketing activities to divert T-Mobile subscribers.
- Obtained favorable settlement for small business owners in a dispute with a former partner/shareholder concerning the value of the Company for purposes of shareholder buy-out.
- Favorably settled dispute that employee had with former employer concerning wrongfully withheld income and partnership interests.
- Go2Net, Inc. v. C I Host, Inc., 115 Wn. App. 73, 60 P.3d 1245 (2003) (attorney for plaintiff).
- Monson Fruit Co., Inc. v. Marsh Advantage America, 2004 WL 440842, 1 (2004) (attorney for defendant).
- Castle v. Washington, 2004 WL 1985215 (Wash. Super.) (attorney for plaintiffs).
- Heinsma v. City of Vancouver, 144 Wn.2d 556, 29 P.3d 709 (2001) (Amicus Curie for ACLU).
Publications & Presentations
- "Kindred of the Half-Blood: Not a Harry Potter Book," author, blog post, Stokes Law Briefs (February 2020)
- "Life's a Breach, and So You Litigate," panelist, 2019 Real Property, Probate & Trust Midyear, presented by WSBA (June 2019)
- "Estate Litigation After Rathbone," panelist, WSBA Trust and Estate Litigation CLE (May 2019)
- "Trust and Estate Litigation After Rathbone: Jurisdiction, Standing, and Other Considerations," panelist, 2018 Real Property, Probate & Trust Midyear, presented by WSBA (June 2018)
- "What Not To Do: Real Life Ethical Violations in Trust & Estate Practices," WSBA 15th Annual Trust and Estate Litigation Seminar (April 2018)
- "TEDRA,” presenter, WSBA Practice Primer: Estate Planning (November 2017)
- "The Miracle of TEDRA," presenter, A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to Probate, Skagit County Bar Association CLE (November 2017)
- "Get Your Business Dispute Out of My TEDRA," author, WSBA Real Property Probate and Trust Section Newsletter (Spring 2017)
- "Attorney's Fees in Probate, Guardianships and Estate Litigation," presenter, 2016 Real Property, Probate & Trust Midyear, presented by WSBA (June 2016)
- "Post-Death Disputes With Partners, Shareholders or Members in Closely Held Businesses," presenter, Personal Estate Planning for the 99%, King County Bar Association CLE (May 2016)
- "Nuts & Bolts of TEDRA," presenter, Maintaining a Balance: Ethics and Probate Litigation, King County Bar Association CLE (August 2015)
- "Talking TEDRA," author, King County Bar Association Bar Bulletin (December 2014)
- "Top 10 Ways to Reduce Family Controversy in Trusts and Estates," author, Stokes Law Briefs blog post (September 2014)
- "Court of Appeals Sets Record Straight on Fiduciaries' Role and the Scope of TEDRA," author, Stokes Law Briefs blog post (August 2014)
- "Will Contests: To File or Not to File? That is the Question," author, Stokes Law Briefs blog post (March 2014)
- "E-Discovery Issues in Litigation," presenter, 2013 Real Property, Probate & Trust Midyear, presented by WSBA (June 2013)
- "When Death & Divorce Collide - Examining Wills & Estates," presenter, Divorce, Washington Style: Exploring the Unique Financial Aspects of Marriage Dissolution, presented by WSBA (June 2013)
- "Can You Do That Under TEDRA?" speaker, 10th Annual Trust & Estate Litigation Seminar, presented by WSBA (April 2013)
- "A TEDRA Litigator's Advice on How Best to Defend Against a Challenge to Documents You Draft," WSBA Real Property Probate and Trust Section Newsletter (Fall 2012)
- "The 9th Annual Trust & Estate Litigation Seminar," co-chair and presenter, WSBA CLE (March 2012)
- "Handling the Difficult Client," presenter, King County Bar Association, Intellectual Property Section (January 2012)
- "Teach Those Children Well: Successor Fiduciary Administration (and Litigation)," co-author, 38 REAL PROPERTY PROBATE & TRUST (WSBA, Fall 2011)
- "Handling the Difficult Client," presenter, 2011 Real Property, Probate & Trust Section Midyear, WSBA/RPPT Section (June 2011)
- "Introduction to Fiduciary Duties," presenter, Advanced Issues in Elder Law CLE, King County Bar Association (March 2011)
- "The 8th Annual Trust and Estate Litigation Seminar," co-chair and presenter, WSBA CLE (March 2011)
- "The 7th Annual Trust and Estate Litigation Seminar," co-chair and presenter, WSBA CLE (March 2010)
- "Who Receives the Proceeds of Life Insurance," co-author, 37 REAL PROPERTY PROBATE & TRUST (WSBA, Winter 2010)
- "Insurance Issues in Trust & Estate Litigation," co-author, Sixth Annual Trust & Estate Litigation CLE (March 2009)
- "E-Discovery Issues in Trust & Estate Litigation," presenter, WSBA Best of CLE: Encore of Excellence (December 2008)
- Estate Disputes, WASHINGTON PROBATE DESKBOOK, Chapter 9 (with Scott A.W. Johnson), Washington State Bar Association (2005)
Professional & Community Activities
- Contributing Author and Editor, Litigation Section Washington State Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section quarterly newsletter The Codicil
- Member, Litigation Sub-Committee of the Washington State Bar Association Real Property Probate and Trust Section
- Volunteer Attorney, King County Bar Association Neighborhood Legal Clinics (2005 - present)
- Member, Q-LAW Judicial Evaluation Committee (2009 - 2011)
- Member, King County Bar Association's Neighborhood Legal Clinics Committee (2007 - 2008)
- Board of Trustees and Current Events Chair, King County Bar Association's Young Lawyers Division (2006 - 2008)
- Board of Directors, ACLU of Washington (2000 - 2005)
- Cooperating Attorney, ACLU of Washington (2001 - 2004)
Background & Interests
Before joining the firm, Karolyn was an intern at the national headquarters of the American Civil Liberties Union in New York City. Karolyn also served as in-house counsel at AT&T Wireless managing cases around the country in 2004 while Cingular's senior litigation counsel was on maternity leave. She is a native New Yorker who moved to Seattle in 2000, and feels perfectly at home in the Pacific Northwest.