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Legal Consultant Oskar Rey Moves On: “Thank You for an Amazing Learning Experience.”

Oskar Rey seated at computer desk in MRSC's offices

Working at MRSC as a legal consultant for the last 7.5 years has been incredibly educational. It was humbling at first. I had practiced municipal law for many years only to discover that there were some gaps in my knowledge. I knew a lot of the basics about code cities, but there were whole topic areas (finance) and municipal entities (counties, special purpose districts) about which I needed to get up to speed.

This is so because municipal law is not a single subject — it is a constellation of topic areas. I have always known that, but it became painfully obvious when I agreed to teach municipal law as an adjunct faculty member at Seattle University School of Law in 2020. The most you can do in a one-semester law class is introduce the various topic areas — it is like dipping a toe in the water — but the best way to gain deeper understanding is to take the plunge and become a municipal practitioner.

For me, prior to coming to MRSC, becoming a municipal attorney was a process of learning by triage—picking up aspects of municipal law as circumstances dictate. It is a process that takes years. My experience at MRSC is the closest thing I know of to a systematic approach to gaining a deeper knowledge of municipal law. If you work as a legal consultant for long enough, you will pick up an appreciation of the range of issues Washington local governments face.

It is also why MRSC is such an important resource. MRSC’s website, trainings, and (most importantly in my view) the inquiry database means that local government staff, officials and their legal advisors do not have to start at square one when a question arises: You can ask MRSC.

Learning on the Job

To work at MRSC is to learn from so many different people! Every day has provided me the chance to interact with individuals representing agencies throughout the state, not to mention my colleagues here at MRSC. And while the issues facing local governments are wide-ranging and opinions on those issues are diverse, the focus always is on identifying solutions to the problems local governments face. MRSC works hard to maintain political neutrality, and that has allowed MRSC consultants to fulfill the agency’s vision of “empowering local governments to better serve their communities.”

I am also grateful to have been able to train and write for local government officials and employees during my time at MRSC. Where else can a person write a blog on obscure topics (like city and town classifications) that (at least a few) people will actually read? Or provide training on topics like how the Establishment Clause impacts local governments? MRSC has been an ideal place for me to get comfortable with the fact that I am a municipal law nerd at heart.

So Why Am I Leaving?

It has been a tough decision, but I really want to return to the practice of municipal law. If you have submitted an inquiry to MRSC, at some point you have seen the disclaimers that MRSC “provides general guidance,” “does not provide legal advice,” and that “you should consult with your agency’s attorney.”

My vantage point as an MRSC legal consultant has been great for understanding the big picture, but now that I have gotten a better view of the forest, I have a hankering to work with individual agencies at the local level and be the “agency attorney” that I have been referring to during my time at MRSC.

So Many People to Thank!

MRSC is a one-of-a-kind organization. I am reminded of that every time I explain to first-time inquirers that there is no need to apologize for making an inquiry and that it is part of our job to answer their questions. According to MRSC records, I have responded to 5,221 inquiries during my time here. If I have answered one (or more) of your inquiries in my time at MRSC, I’d like to say “thank you” for contributing to my education!

Working with current and former MRSC legal and policy consultants has been an absolute pleasure. It should come as no surprise that MRSC fosters a culture of collaboration and friendly debate, so when I don’t know the answer, I usually know who might. And when all else fails, we “reason together.” I have made clear that while I might be leaving as an employee, I will be returning to customer status.

I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the MRSC Communications and Admin teams and their essential roles at MRSC. Finally, special thanks to Tracy Burrows and Flannary Collins for their leadership and stewardship at MRSC. I have led a charmed life when it comes to working for smart and supportive people.

Next Steps

I have accepted a position as a member of the municipal department of the Ogden Murphy Wallace law firm and I am excited to become part of that team. Although I am saying “goodbye” to MRSC as a legal consultant, it is not really a full “goodbye.” I remain committed to supporting MRSC’s mission of supporting local government success and Iook forward to showing that support as an MRSC advocate and volunteer.

MRSC is a private nonprofit organization serving local governments in Washington State. Eligible government agencies in Washington State may use our free, one-on-one Ask MRSC service to get answers to legal, policy, or financial questions.

Photo of Oskar Rey

About Oskar Rey

Oskar Rey is an attorney with Ogden Murphy Wallace PLLC. Prior to this he worked as a legal consultant at MRSC from 2016 to 2024. Oskar has practiced municipal law since 1995 and served as Assistant City Attorney for the City of Kirkland from 2005 to 2016, where he worked on a wide range of municipal topics, including land use, public records, and public works.