Palace Law is built on the idea that every client deserves a competent team of legal professionals to handle all aspects of their case. At Palace Law, every client is assigned a team to work on each case. Our teams are comprised of attorneys and legal professionals. Please take a moment to learn about the attorneys at Palace Law and the legal professionals that make up our legal teams.
Kristi Richardson was born and raised in Tacoma, Washington. After graduating from high school, she had a strong interest in the nursing field and completed two years of college while working in the office of an orthopedic surgeon. Kristi worked her way up through the doctor’s office for 10 years, learning how to file, do reception work and to deal with all types of patients and injuries. Ultimately, she attained the position of orthopedic assistant and got a real-world view of medicine and patient care. It was during these years that Kristi also began to see the hoops the workers’ compensation patients had to jump through just to see a doctor and to get their bills paid. As a result, in 1999, Kristi made the decision to leave the medical field and join the legal field where she thought she could have a greater impact on her patient’s lives. She was right.
Kristi has been a paralegal now for over 15 years now, almost exclusively managing workers’ compensation cases on behalf of injured workers. She manages all aspects of a workers’ compensation case. She participates in cases at all levels including at the Department of Labor and Industries, before Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals, and in the Superior Court. She has worked on and been an integral part in the settlement of cases in excess of six figures.
Kristi is well-respected by the claims managers of both state and self-insured companies and those in the medical profession because of her years of working in the medical field and because of her understanding of medicine and medical conditions.
Outside of work, Kristi manages a five-acre farm with chickens and ducks, has a wonderful husband who runs a construction company and joyfully raises her baby daughter.
Ciana Powell is Palace Law’s project manager. Her sole purpose is to discover, develop and implement new technologies with the goal of guaranteeing exceptional customer service. She is tasked with the ever-changing role of finding new and more effective ways to serve our clients, then overseeing those projects and implementing. She has a thirst for knowledge and is constantly looking for ways that our office can work smarter.
Ciana started at Palace Law as the Assistant office manager. Her background in management, policies and procedures quickly elevated her to other projects. Since becoming project manager, she has overseen the transition to a paperless office, implemented a new software management system and created a seamless new client onboard process. She has successfully executed multiple automation projects, electronic file reviews and redesigned our interoffice communication.
Ciana was born in Juneau, Alaska, but grew up in Tacoma, Washington. She is a shareholder of two federally recognized tribes, Sealeska, Tlingit & Haida. She earned scholarships at Chapman University where she obtained her bachelor’s degree with honors in psychology. Ciana and her daughter love to take day trips all over the Pacific Northwest where they can spend their time hiking, fishing and clam digging; but in the summer, all of her free time is spent in her garden.
Sandra Garrison was born in Montana, but soon after, her family moved to Aberdeen, Washington, where she lived until she moved to the Seattle area in the early 80s. Sandra has always been very creative and started her career sewing custom bridal gowns, eventually transitioning into retail sales of wedding dresses.
After the birth of her son, she re-evaluated what she wanted out of a career and decided it was time for a change. Sandra started working for a major insurance company as a customer service representative. Working for the insurance companies, she realized it was hard to make an impact and often felt like she was fighting an uphill battle. In 1994, Sandra enrolled in Lake Washington Technical College and obtained her Legal Secretary Certificate.
Sandra has been a workers’ compensation paralegal for over 20 years and provides endless knowledge to Palace Law. She is dedicated to customer service and has spent her career specializing in claimant’s workers’ compensation cases. Sandra works diligently to ensure that her clients receive all the benefits that they are entitled to from the Department of Labor and Industries. She successfully handles all issues in claims such as; back time loss, employability issues, vocational meetings, Board of Industrial Insurance Appeals mediation conferences and resolution of claims with appropriate permanent partial disability awards. Her favorite part of her job is being of service to our clients, and she loves the relationships she is able to build through helping people.
Although Sandra’s son is now grown, she was a single mother who understands the challenges of living off one income and the necessity of perseverance. In her spare time, she enjoys reading and spending time with her family and friends. But of course, she still loves to get her creative juices flowing with sewing, crafts, and scrapbooking.
Brian Smalley graduated from high school in Chehalis, WA, and attended Washington State University where he graduated with honors with a Bachelor of Science degree from the School of Engineering and a Bachelor of Arts degree in Finance. While at the university, he was elected to Tau Beta Pi, the National Engineering Honor Society.
After leaving school, Brian spent the next 30 years in the commercial real estate finance industry in Seattle and New York City. In 2010, after returning to Chehalis to care for a family member, he made a career change to the legal industry to help injured workers receive their entitled benefits in workers’ compensation claims. His well-developed negotiation and organizational skills allow him to stay on top of his client's claims and to effectively manage the increasingly complex nature of claims with the Department of Labor and Industries. He manages State and self-insured claims from beginning to end.
Brian is an avid touring cyclist and traveler. He has traveled the world by bicycle, logging over 25,000 miles through 13 countries on his trusty touring bike. He also enjoys hiking, cooking and reading.
Cheryl Gorder is a workers’ compensation paralegal at Palace Law. She is a member of the Washington State Association for Justice and also belongs to the Washington State Paralegal Association.
Cheryl is the Palace Law “black box” that gives our trial team the winning edge. There is no substitute for her decades of trial support. She is dedicated to, and passionate about, the work she does on behalf of client’s cases and the legal process itself. She enjoys the client contact and the day to day interaction with the attorneys and staff that she is working for and with, as well interaction with opposing counsel, court staff, various medical administrators, and physicians, as well as experts brought in to assist in cases.
Outside of work, Cheryl is a grandmother to 3 and wants her grandchildren to grow up with two very important qualities: a sense of adventure and a commitment to the well-being of others.
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