MEREDITH McKELL GRAFF, Esq.
founded McKELL GRAFF, PLLC in 2003. Prior to that, she worked as an associate in the area of Family Law with the Longview, Washington law firm, WALSTEAD MERTSCHING, P.S., and as a Family and Elder Law mediator with the Portland, Oregon law and mediation firm of STEVEN ALLEN SMITH, P.C. She is actively licensed to practice law in the state of Washington, and is licensed, but currently on inactive status, as a Utah attorney.
Ms. Graff is a graduate of University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law, in Salt Lake City, Utah, where she focused her law studies in the area of Elder Law. She holds a masters degree in English (Creative Writing/Poetry) from Rutgers University Graduate School in Newark, New Jersey. She obtained her bachelors degree in Denver, Colorado from Loretto Heights College, which merged with Regis College to create Regis University.
Ms. Graff has been trained in divorce and custody mediation since 1983, where she trained with the Center for Dispute Resolution, now known as CDR Associates, in Boulder, Colorado. She received additional mediation training in law school, during which she also served as a volunteer mediator in the Murray City (Utah) Small Claims Court. She has mediated hundreds of hours in which most of her cases settled. She recently became certified with Washington Mediation Association and id a member of the Clark County Association of Mediators.
Ms. Graff is a member of the American Bar Association, the Utah and Washington State Bar Associations, the Clark County (WA) and Cowlitz County (WA) Bar Associations. She holds memberships in the Washington State Bar Family Law and Dispute Resolution Sections, the Association for Conflict Resolution, and Collaborative Professionals of Washington. She has served as Vice-President of the St. Helens Chapter of Washington Women Lawyers and was President of the Clark County Bar Family Law Section. She was Secretary of the Cowlitz County Bar Association in 2003, and served on the board of Cowlitz-Wahkiakum Legal Aid from 2002-2004. She volunteers for Southwest Washington Volunteer Lawyers Program.
Law is a second career for Ms. Graff, having taught college writing courses for eight years at Rutgers University in New Jersey, and Weber State University and Salt Lake Community College in Utah. Ms. Graff has taught hundreds of students as an adjunct professor and sees her teaching skills as an important part of her law practice as she continues to teach her clients about how the law impacts their lives.
Ms. Graff also worked in the insurance industry in New Jersey during and after graduate school and was licensed to sell life, health, disability, and property and casualty insurance products, and held a National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) Series 6 license. Ms. Graff received numerous awards and recognition during her tenure as a financial services representative, sales manager, and later, underwriter for one of the largest insurance companies in the U.S.
Ms. Graff is the author of a chapter in the book, Contested Landscape: Wilderness Policy in Utah and the West, ed. Dan McCool, Ph.D. and Doug Goodman, University of Utah Press, 1999. She is also the author of the poetry manuscript, “Mischpocha,” a selection of family-themed poems. She is working on a book with her mother, Letters From Africa, which tells the true story of her parents’ life in Kenya, Africa while her father was on his second professorial sabbatical leave. Ms. Graff’s father, Cyrus M. McKell, Ph.D., was a botanist who has specialized in drought-tolerant plants.
Ms. Graff is the mother of four grown children. She fought, and lost, custody of them when they were ages 10, 8, 6 and 3, two years after a divorce. It is that experience that informs and fuels her desire to promote mediation, collaboration, and conciliation in family legal matters. Ms. Graff is also a breast cancer survivor, having been free of cancer since 1999. She is available to speak to groups about peaceful resolution of legal problems.
EUGENE McKELL GRAFF, Esq.
studied law at Willamette University, and obtained his J.D. in 2001; he was admitted to the Washington Bar the same year. He also has a Bachelor’s of Arts degree in Graphic Design from Rutgers University and spent several years a graphic designer, art director, and art instructor before attending law school.
Immediately prior to joining McKell Graff as a law partner with his life partner Meredith, Gene spent nearly 6 years as an Assistant Attorney General in the Vancouver Regional Services Division of the Washington Attorney General’s Office (AGO), where he had an extensive litigation practice primarily in juvenile law in Clark, Cowlitz, occasionally, Skamania Counties. He gained substantial appellate experience at the state Appeals and Supreme Court levels during his AGO tenure, and participated in multiple Workers Compensation jury trials. More recently he also handled unemployment cases for the state Department of Employment Security.
Gene has professionally lectured on the subject of the use of psychological experts in trial practice for the University of Washington’s Court Improvement Training Academy (CITA) in Seattle and Federal Way, and served as panelist at the Children’s Justice Conference in Seattle. Gene also served as a panelist at a Vancouver conference on the subject of child representation in dependency matters, and is a past member of the Region 6 Reasonable Efforts Symposium Committee, serving stakeholders in juvenile dependency practice in Clark, Cowlitz, and Wahkiakum Counties. He also served on the Clark County Juvenile Court Improvement Committee, which recommended and implemented changes in Clark County dependency court to minimize the amount of time parents spend in dependency court on the regular docket waiting for their cases to be called.
Prior to joining the AGO, Gene spent nearly three years as an Associate Attorney for the Vancouver law firm of Greenen & Greenen, where he practiced law primarily as a parents’ attorney in juvenile court. He also served as a court-appointed attorney for children and guardian ad litem for children and parents in juvenile court. In addition to his juvenile practice at Greenen & Greenen, he also represented landlords in landlord/tenant disputes, and gained experience cases in diverse areas such as contracts, business, real estate, construction defects, intellectual property, probate, family and criminal law. He also has experience in school law and mediation.
As a new lawyer, Gene was taught to view the proper role of a lawyer as both an advocate for and a counselor to his or her client; as a veteran lawyer, he believes that more strongly than ever. While recognizing that sometimes trial is a necessary option, most cases settle without need for trial. Gene derives great satisfaction from assisting clients in settling their differences, as studies show, consistent with his own experience, clients are generally more satisfied with negotiated settlements than they are with trial results since they are more directly involved with the solution.
KATHY TUCK, Paralegal
Kathy grew up in western Nebraska and received a Bachelor’s Degree from the University of Wyoming in 1988, with a major in Psychology. She moved to the Pacific Northwest in 1994, and spent many years as a stay-at-home mom. In June of 2016 she earned a certificate in paralegal studies from Clark College. She enjoys being part of the team at McKell Graff, particularly working with clients.
Kathy has two grown daughters who live in Seattle, and loves to take the train up for a day just to hang out with them. Kathy also volunteers as a CASA and sings in a community choir called the Vancouver USA singers. On weekends she can often be found walking the local trails with her golden retriever.
has been a comforting presence for clients and their families. Fiona, a West Highland White Terrier, enjoys coming to work and when not visiting with clients, stays on the lookout for squirrels outside the office windows.