Suzanne DuRard Law PLLC

How Did I Get Here?

My background includes 25+ years of law practice, beginning at Davis Wright Tremaine and followed by 13 years in-house as REI's first lawyer and then as the Senior Director of Legal Affairs for the Americas at Avanade, a Seattle-based global joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft. In 2015 I started my own practice so that I would also have time to pursue other interests.

I have taken a couple of rewarding detours from law practice - I ran solar and green power programs for Seattle City Light for 3 years and while living in New Zealand for 2 years I helped UNHCR refugees navigate the immigration system as a volunteer with a legal services agency. Although I was not working as a lawyer at City Light I continued to negotiate contracts and analyze legislation as part of my job, and I put my analytical, problem-solving and advocacy skills to work every day to navigate the difficult task of furthering the development of solar energy in grey, hydro-powered Seattle. While volunteering in NZ, I realized how important it was to me to have time to do things for my community, which was part of the impetus for eventually working for myself.

Collaborating with clients to understand and manage risks in their various business and real estate transactions is the best part of my job. I can help you reach development goals, come to agreement with landlords or tenants (initially or when problems arise), figure out a rule or process or explain a change in the law. If you need a resource, I will help you find one. Clients can count on me to be interested in their businesses and their projects. My goal is to provide high-quality service in an efficient manner, but my passion is to gain client trust through great work and a great relationship. Your time is valuable, so spending it with me should be valuable on a personal level too.

Current Focus And Relevant Experience -

What Can I Do for You?

These days my primary focus is working with small businesses, small developers and individuals. I provide legal advice on residential property transactions, including purchases, sales and the development of townhouses and detached condominiums. New rules in Seattle (and being developed around Washington State) allow property owners to turn their ADUs/DADUs into condominiums, which allows them to be sold or refinanced separately. I work with property owners to understand and successfully navigate the development process, including due diligence, subdivision and permitting and condominium creation.  Commercial leasing, small business formation and the sale of small businesses, LLC operating agreements and joint venture agreements are also a mainstay of my practice.

Below are some examples of my legal experience. (For a glimpse into what a lawyer can do to pursue other interests, read about the nationally-acclaimed Community Solar program I managed at Seattle City Light in a great article in Grist.)

  • Real estate purchase and development transactions or major leasing projects that allowed REI to help its customers get outdoors at over 20 new REI locations, including Seattle, Denver and Bloomington MN Flagship stores.

  • Lease negotiation; sale of business assets and leases for a Bon Appétit pick as one of “America’s Best New Restaurants 2016.” Finding the perfect spot for your business might take more than one try over a period of years. If you need to move, it goes without saying that you want to minimize your liability for ongoing rental payments or for the obligations of any successor tenant. But you can also use help maximizing the profits from selling equipment and the rights to your space, which may be perfect for someone else.

  • Negotiation of leases for national retail chains and financial institutions. From candy stores in shopping malls in suburban Maryland to long-term ground leases for national banks in Whatcom County, Washington – businesses want the best deals they can get as tenants to keep costs low and operations flexible.   

  • Counseling of business leadership on contracting strategy and risk; training business development and project management personnel on legal matters; managing intellectual property rights; forming partnerships with software providers and other third parties. Providing a service to a client or customer is often a business focus, but protecting assets, including intellectual property and inventions, and providing clear rules around working with those customers, from project development to payment, is something no business should neglect. I have written and negotiated services contracts for everything from multi-million dollar projects to modernize state licensing systems to IT system overhauls for Fortune 100 companies to local pest-control and general contractor businesses looking to make contracting easy for themselves and their customers.  

  • Oversight and compliance related to environmental cleanups at multiple REI stores, including the Seattle Flagship store. Did you know that that lush urban “forest” outside the Seattle store is the site of a previous commercial laundry with numerous underground storage tanks for toxic cleaning chemicals?