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Longtime Legal Staff Jim Doherty Retires from MRSC after 25 Years

Longtime Legal Staff Jim Doherty Retires from MRSC after 25 Years

Lynn Nordby posted a goodbye blog earlier this week about his retirement on July 13 —  and I’m doing the same — closing out my MRSC email and cleaning up my files after 25 wonderful years at MRSC.

Helping staff and elected officials at local government agencies across the state has been a challenging and rewarding task. Some issues suddenly rise to importance, such as pipeline safety and franchising after the Bellingham pipeline tragedy in 1999, or the frantic expansion of fiber optic lines in rights-of-way and wireless antenna towers in neighborhoods after passage of the federal telecommunications act in 1996. More recently,  local governments have been beset by the rise of homelessness and affordable housing issues. It is impossible to predict the next focus of attention — and that is what has kept the work so fascinating.

When I started as a Legal Consultant at MRSC in 1993, we often mailed letters to local government staff and officials on “letterhead.” That shifted to fax transmissions when information was needed quickly. Then, in the latter half of the 1990s, the internet overturned how everyone functioned in an office setting. We suddenly had the option of emailing local government elected officials and staff. We were able to transmit documents and post sample ordinances on our website instead of mailing out printed collations “on loan.” Vast amounts of information became available in digital form, including court decisions, city codes, and county codes — but agency staff still needed assistance with locating and evaluating that mountain of information.

For decades MRSC provided services only to cities and towns. Then, in the late 1990s, counties joined as customers, and since that time MRSC has expanded to serve a growing number of special purpose districts as well. MRSC has been doing nothing but morphing over the past 25 years and the pace of change continues. Having to constantly develop new communication skills and subject-area expertise has kept all of us at MRSC on our toes — and we wouldn’t have it any other way: We reflect the changes that are going on in our communities.

I have appreciated working in a setting where our clients frequently say “thanks.” Attorneys spend much of their time dealing with conflicting interests, and it can be stressful. While working at MRSC I have sometimes been able to steer jurisdictions away from conflict or at least helped them manage the conflict in an effective way.

Thanks to all of you for sending in those tough questions. Finding the answers has kept me learning — and nothing makes a job more enjoyable than that. 

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 Jim Doherty

About Jim Doherty

Jim had over 24 years of experience researching and responding to varied legal questions at MRSC. He had special expertise in transmission pipeline planning issues, as well as the issues surrounding medical and recreational marijuana. He is now retired.