Young lawyers bring donated law library to Long Beach

Expensive donated law books are temporarily stored on the floor at the county building on Sandridge Road. They will soon be shelved and available for public use. The books were donated by the Maritime Injury Assistance law firm in Seattle after Peninsula law graduate Devon Phelps learned the lawyers were converting to an electronic database for their legal research. Such books contain detailed accounts of past appellate court decisions, which constitute a major type of state law.

LONG BEACH — A south county law library is now a wish on its way to becoming a reality thanks to a Seattle law firm’s generous donation of 350 Washington Reports and Washington Appellate Reports books, which arrived here by way of a unique opportunity and good old-fashioned networking.

Elated to acquire such a valuable resource, South District Court Judge Douglas Goelz says his daughter, Darcey, graduated from Ilwaco High School, studied law at the University of Washington and now works for a judge in Seattle. Her friend, Devon Phelps, also graduated from Ilwaco and passed the bar exam in October. Devon knows someone who works at the Maritime Injury Assistance firm in Seattle.

Tom Evans and George Knowles, partners at Maritime Injury Assistance, were switching over to electronic copies of the books and wanted to give their books to somewhere in need. 

Devon and Darcey wondered if the books would be of use back home and called Goelz to see if he’d want them.

“When I heard about this, I just jumped on it,” says Goelz. “I’ll use it a lot and people in the system will use it … Anyone will have access to the law, not just attorneys and judges.”

Goelz and his son, Joe, drove to Seattle to pack the books — which were packaged in bundles of 12 inside garbage bags to protect them from the torrential downpours — down three stories and into the car. They’ve since been stacked up inside the county building, where Goelz hopes to have shelves installed to serve as their permanent home.

He says that while the books will be a great resource for in the courtroom, but they will also be useful to the public for research. There is a law library in north Pacific County, but for Peninsula residents, the drive is a 100 miles roundtrip. And with no funding available for creating a south county law library, Evans’ and Knowles’ donation was a windfall.

“They sought out to benefit people they didn’t even know,” Goelz says of the two partners, who he says could have easily sold the large set to make a buck.

The books are available for use at Pacific County South District Court office inside the new county building at 7013 Sandridge Road in Long Beach. For further information, call 642-9417.

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