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Client Service Philosophy
“Clients need thoughtful, strategic advice that takes into account where they are as an individuals or organizations and where they want to be. Whether they are employees facing discrimination, or organizations facing community criticism and employee unrest, they need a clear path to their ideal—be it through litigation, or negotiation and compromise. Ms. Boler is a creative and persuasive problem solver who helps her clients figure out where they want to go, and then helps them get there.”
Jean Boler is an experienced lawyer who has worked tirelessly for equity and fairness both as counsel for individuals and for organizations. As a plaintiffs’ employment lawyer, Ms. Boler has used class action litigation to expose discriminatory patterns in workplaces. As counsel to the City of Seattle, Ms. Boler was at the forefront of helping a willing City government embrace systemic change in its police department. Ms. Boler has a unique ability to turn conflict into an avenue for improvement, whether through advice, negotiation or litigation. Ms. Boler works in all areas of employment law as well as in the area of police accountability. She is a trained mediator.
Ms. Boler started her legal career clerking for the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals and then moved to the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office as a trial lawyer. In 1988, she joined the Sprenger & Lang law firm, working on class action discrimination cases, including the first sexual harassment class action: Jenson v. Eveleth Mines, which later became the subject of the book Class Action and the movie North Country. A move to Seattle brought her back to the public sector, working in the Seattle City Attorney’s Office Employment Section. Her most recent position was Civil Division Chief, supervising over ninety attorneys and staff handling all legal matters facing the City. She was lead counsel in the negotiations with the Department of Justice over excessive force allegations against the Seattle Police Department and helped negotiate a consent decree that changed police practices and has become a national model.
- U.S. District Court District of Minnesota
- U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
- Juris Doctor, Magna cum Laude, University of Minnesota, 1979-1982
- BA, Anthropology, University of Minnesota, 1973-1977
- Certificate of Completion, Professional Mediation Skills Training Program, University of Washington School of Law, 2012
- Member, Minnesota State Bar Association
- Member, Washington State Bar Association
- Past Member, Diversity Committee
- Past Member, Civil Rights Committee
- Member, King County Bar Association
- Past Member, Washington Women Lawyers
- Minnesota Women Lawyers
- Past President, Minnesota Lawyers Human Rights Committee
Jean Boler in the News
- “‘Not clear’ if House harassment policy applies to Rod Hamilton” Minnesota Lawyer, December 2018
June 8, 2015, was proclaimed “Jean Boler day” by the Mayor and Seattle City Council in honor of Ms. Boler’s service to the City of Seattle. She was recognized for, among other things, eliminating gender pay disparities in the Law Department and guiding the City through implementation of the DOJ Settlement Agreement regarding police use of force and accountability.
Jean Boler has given many presentations over the years in the areas of employment law, sex discrimination and harassment, police accountability, and ethics, among other topics.
Jean Boler’s recent presentations on sexual harassment:
May 24, 2018: Jean Boler and Toni Halleen presented to the Minnesota Paralegal Association convention a talk entitled: “From Bra Burning to Twitter: Has the workplace really changed with the advent of the #MeToo movement?” This breakout session looked at the personal and legal aspects of our changing definitions of sexual harassment and invited audience participation on the question of what our legal workplaces are like for women and how we would like them to change.
March 8, 2018: Jean Boler presented with a panel of women lawyers on the topic of “#USTOO: Women Lawyers and Sexual Harassment Today.” The panel tackled questions about the impact of the #Metoo movement on law firms; whether our legal workplaces are safe and respectful for women, and, if not, what we can do to change them. The audience and panelists discussed their experiences and strategies for dealing with sex discrimination and harassment.
December 17, 2017: Jean Boler participated in a presentation to the Minnesota Chapter of the National Employment Law Association (NELA) entitled “The State of Sexual Harassment: How the Courts are Dealing with these Claims, Tips for Successful Prosecution, and How to Improve the Law.” Jean presented on the state of the law and discussed strategies for bringing the legal definition of sexual harassment in line with the treatment that drives women from their workplaces.
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