SEATTLE, July 21, 2017 Kenneth L. Schubert, Jr., one of the founders of Seattle-based international law firm Garvey Schubert Barer (GSB), passed away on July 20, 2017. He was 78.
Ken and his partners founded GSB in 1966, two years after they graduated from the University of Washington School of Law, with “a vision of being able to control our lives, do what was right and have a big adventure,” according to co-founder Mike Garvey. The firm pursued and developed specialties in international business, maritime and family-owned businesses. Under Ken’s leadership, the firm was the first to partner with a Japanese law firm in the 1980’s and also paved the way for U.S.-China trade when partner Stan Barer negotiated the resumption of shipping and aviation between the two countries.
Ken was nationally known and recognized as a premier estate planning lawyer, representing individuals, families, and business owners. His clients relied on his sharp intellect, his unfailing commitment to their interests, and his imaginative and innovative practices. Ken was one of the drafters and proponents of Washington State’s TEDRA statute, which allowed greater flexibility for courts and practitioners in trust and estate litigation. Ken was a member of the American College of Trust and Estate Counsel. He also dedicated himself to public and community service, serving on numerous bar committees and on the boards of many organizations including Seattle Children’s Hospital, Seattle Opera, Rotary Club of Seattle and Sheldon Jackson College. He was a Seattle native who was a proud graduate of West Seattle High School and the University of Washington.
Ken strongly believed in doing the right thing at all times, and that core belief drove his commitment to diversity throughout the workplace and society. He played an integral role in hiring the firm's first female and African American attorneys and helped mentor them as they became partners in the firm and leaders in their fields of practice. He and the firm supported a variety of minority legal associations, and he was especially supportive of the LGBT community within and outside of the firm. Outside GSB, he played a prominent role in his church, helping it officially become an "open and affirming" congregation that expressly welcomes people of all sexual identification and orientation. Ken was also a strong advocate for the firm’s staff, for example, helping to make sure that all GSB employees were part of the firm’s sabbatical program from its inception.
After his retirement from GSB, the firm established the Kenneth L. Schubert Jr. Diversity Fellowship Program to recognize Ken for his leadership and commitment to diversity. The Fellowship offers qualified students paid summer internships as well as additional grants based on academic achievement.
“Ken is an iconic figure in Seattle’s business and legal community, and his life will impact us all for decades to come,” said David West, managing director of GSB’s Seattle office and a longtime friend and colleague of Schubert. “Ken’s work is reflected in the number of people he helped to lift up, grow and succeed, wherever they came from and whatever path they were following. He mentored countless people inside and outside the firm, and he knew and demonstrated that all of us needed to serve not only our clients, but our community. We will miss him, but never forget what he taught us.”