Jonathan P. Dichter:

The NCDD Member in the Spotlight is Jonathan P. Dichter of Lynnwood, Washington. If you have never met Jonathan, look for the smiling face in the crowd. He welcomes everyone immediately with a warmth that has earned him a reputation for being one of the kindest and most caring lawyers by the judges in his jurisdiction. When one of his clients passed away, Judge McRae called to check on him remarking “I’ve been watching you for a few years now. You care more about your clients than most attorneys will ever learn how to.” It really is that obvious he has a special gift with people. Jonathan is on his 19th year practicing law. He was born in Brooklyn, New York, and moved to Canton, Ohio when he was in the 6th Grade. His father practiced family medicine, passing in 2010. His mother is a retired registered nurse. Jonathan grew up learning how to deeply care for others by watching how his dad listened and tended to his patients. He also acquired his sense of humor and knack for storytelling.

Mid-course into a joint BS/MD program at Northeastern Ohio University College of Medicine, Jonathan switched gears. The lure of debate and the art of storytelling was too ingrained into this high school mock trial and speech/debate champion. Before going to law school he performed stand-up comedy on weekends.

In addition to the NCDD, Jonathan is also a member of the Washington Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers. He was recognized this year as a “Super Lawyer” for the first time after being a rising star from 2014-2018. He is also a NHTSA trained SFST instructor and has been through ARIDE. In 2011 the Washington State Bar Association recognized his work with The Pro Bono Public Service award. Before he was licensed, he was already winning recognitions. He was the recipient of the Silver Key from the ABA’s Law Student division. He was also a regional qualifier in the ABA’s international negotiation competition.

One of Jonathan’s favorite wins was a repeat offense DUI which was eventually dismissed due to police misconduct and intimidation/coercion during the stop. He treasures the win because the Judge commented “If we keep trying to convict the guilty with tainted evidence, sooner or later we will start convicting the innocent with it.” Another of his favorite wins was a first time DUI involving a Naval Officer in a county Jonathan didn’t normally practice in. The jury acquitted in 11 minutes. The look of utter revulsion on the judge’s face was all the joy he needed. Always a pleasant, happy people person, Jonathan could not wait to leave the county where everyone from the Judge to the court staff had treated him ill. Jonathan proves nice guys do indeed finish first, not last.

In addition to the rigors of running a 7 person law firm operation (4 lawyers), and performing in local improv and community theater, Jonathan sings, performs magic, and enjoys time with his wife, daughter, poodle, golden doodle and three cats. His joys include board games, painting board game miniatures, theme parks, 3-D printing, Disney, all things Sci-Fi and escape rooms. Jonathan and his wife are who you want on your team on an escape room outing. They remain undefeated in 107 escape room challenges.

Jonathan’s approach to law focuses largely on the narrative. He believes the most important skill a trial attorney can develop is the skill of storytelling. His goal with clients is to understand their stories, make sure they know they are seen and understood, and tell their stories to prosecutors and juries alike. He states that his clients know they are seen as human beings and not criminals.

Jonathan’s favorite thing about being a lawyer is discovering the humanity in his clients while the world tries to vilify them. He puts it so beautifully: “The moment you are able to see the humanity in them when nobody else does…. Our clients are some of the most loathed in the country. At their core, though, they are human beings like us. The moment a client realizes that you see them and are willing to stand with them, protect them, and share their story so they are not invisible to the system, it’s magic. Many of our clients are expecting to be another cog in the wheel, and when they realize they are not, it makes all the difference in the world.”

Jonathan’s wise advice to new lawyers is: “Do not listen to people who tell you that you have to distance yourself or your emotions from your professional world. Your humanity is likely one of the things that brought you to this field of practice. It’s the thing that makes you unique and wonderful. It’s also something juries can see and will love about you. Be you. Care hard. Fight hard. But always be you. You are the best you out there.

When asked about the NCDD, Jonathan loves the collaboration and dedication to knowledge and justice the seminars provide. He has made many friends through the seminars and remarks, “I couldn’t ask for a better group of colleagues and friends.” Margaret Mead said, “Never believe that a few caring people can’t change the world. For, indeed, that’s all who ever have.” Jonathan, you make us very proud and your work proves that caring is everything. Thank you for everything you do for the NCDD.

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