Kirsten Barron is a partner at Barron Smith Daugert, PLLC, where she specializes in business and employment law. She’s practiced law for over 20 years, and received the 2015 President’s Award from the Legal Foundation of Washington.

What brought you to Bellingham?

I picked it. I was on the East Coast, and traveled to the Pacific Northwest every summer to visit my grandparents. We’d go everywhere—Oregon, Washington, Canada, Idaho. Even after my grandmother passed away when I was 13, I’d come out here from the East Coast every summer until I was 26 to spend time with my grandfather. 

When I was in Bellingham, it felt right to me—when I walked in the woods, the way the earth felt, the water. We have this amazing environment; it’s small, manageable, you can talk to anyone you want, everything is accessible.

What is your favorite place in Bellingham?

Lake Samish. Lake Samish all day long, any time of the year. God sits there with me.

What would be your perfect Bellingham weekend?

A sporting event, and Lake Samish.

Do you have a favorite downtown spot?

I’m downtown all week. I love Ciao Thyme, I love walking the streets, I love the Farmers Market. Anywhere downtown is a great place to hang out. That’s the great thing about Bellingham—anywhere you go, there’s a welcoming sense of community.

What do you like best about your job?

I get to solve problems for people. I love solving problems.

What do people not understand about your job?

The same things I don’t understand, frankly. The billable hour works on its surface, but how does that really represent value?

Also, I really think lawyers have done an enormous disservice to the community by over-complicating everything. I have this internal struggle between my desire to help people solve problems, and help them get what they want—to grow their business, buy a piece of property, whatever adventure they’re trying to create for themselves, I love that.

But I’m constantly hampered by the way we have over-complicated things, and it makes it unmanageable. The law is not accessible to people. If you have a lot of money, you can get someone to help you with a legal problem. It’s gotten worse since I started practicing; it’s way more complicated now than 25 years ago.

For example, if you want a divorce, there’s 209 forms in Washington State that you get to choose from, all of which are written in legalese, and some of which have inaccurate statements of the law in them, but they’re mandatory forms. We’re changing that now.

The best book you’ve read recently?

I’m reading the Geography of Bliss by Eric Weiner. It’s about the happiness or lack of happiness in certain parts of the world. There is interesting information about what creates happiness.

Is there a business or organization you’d like to see come to Bellingham?

Yeah, more corporate headquarters. It adds to this robust, intellectual energy that we have.

If you had to enroll at Western today, what would you enroll in?

Education. I would teach elementary school.

Do you have a special local charity or cause you’d like to call out?

I spend a lot of time on access to justice, because that’s my skillset and I love it.

I’m also really interested in watching people create good things and supporting them.

What have I not asked you that I should?

I really wish we lived in more gratitude about living in Bellingham. I think we would all be happier, more productive, and have more ease if we started out saying, It’s beautiful here, there’s no tornados, we’ve fed our children, they go to wonderful schools, we’re safe, we’re blessed.

January 3, 2017

Jeff Jewell

December 30, 2016

Matt Mullett

December 26, 2016

Todd Elsworth

December 23, 2016

Corrinne Sande

December 21, 2016

Downtown Improvement Gardens

December 17, 2016

San Juan Airlines

December 15, 2016

Holiday Classic

December 9, 2016

Baker Beacon Rally