Over the past year, you may have noticed a new face appearing in Abeyta Nelson ads and billboards across the Valley. It’s Maggie Lund, 34, a native of Kirkland, who joined the law firm in July 2018 as the first female associate attorney since the firm was founded in 1982.
It was a natural step for Lund, who says that she has been drawn to law since childhood. When she was about 7, she learned about the Magna Carta and used the idea of this “negotiating tool” to try to bargain with her parents. Within the family, her technique became known as “Maggie Carta.” Later, she participated in a mock trial held by her seventh-grade class in Woodinville. “I was so into it. I remember having all of these flash cards,” she said. “I was so excited.”
After graduating from Mercer Island High School, Lund enrolled at Washington State University. “That’s when I really fell in love with the east side (of Washington State),” she recalled. “Driving over (the pass), it felt like a weight was lifted from my shoulders.” Here, there is “a different energy,” compared to the west side, she believes, “a calmer, happier feel.”
As Lund was preparing for her graduation from WSU in 2007, when she received a B.A. in political science, she thought about going to law school. She even began studying for the Law School Admissions Test, but just wasn’t ready to move forward yet, she recalled. Instead, she went to work in the marketing department of a Bellevue real estate school and as a file clerk with a Seattle law firm for a time.
By 2009, Lund was set to enroll in the Seattle University School of Law. She graduated magna cum laude in 2012.
Her new career began with a year of service as a law clerk to Bruce Weiss, a Superior Court judge in Snohomish County. Next, she advanced to a position as an associate attorney with Tuell & Young, a law firm in Pierce County. Prior to coming to Abeyta Nelson, she was a contract/associate attorney at Andrews & Arbenz, another Pierce County law firm.
However, Lund never forgot her positive impression of Eastern Washington. It was a factor which drew her to apply for a job at Abeyta Nelson when the firm underwent a reorganization last year. “We hired Maggie because she stood out from the rest as being extremely personable, extremely bright, and she had experience in the family law area … and litigation experience,” said Terry Abeyta, a founding partner of the firm. “She’s got the ability to relate to and be comfortable with all kinds of people … She has a passion for helping people in different positions.”
Lund has assisted Abeyta on larger legal matters and has begun handling her own cases, he said. The Abeyta Nelson firm now has offices in Yakima, Ellensburg and Sunnyside. “I’ve wanted to add a woman attorney to our team for many years,” Abeyta said. The firm already employs 14 other women in positions ranging from legal assistant to new claims coordinator, office manager, medical coordinator, bookkeeper and receptionist. With the 2018 reorganization, everything just came together to hire a female attorney, he said.
Abeyta and Lund agree that a woman can bring “a somewhat different perspective at times than a male brings,” in Abeyta’s words, to the practice of law and assisting clients. “I don’t want to stereotype, but men and women can say the same thing very differently and they can do things very differently,” Lund said. Despite the fact that women now account for about half of all law students, there are “not a lot of women trial lawyers, which is what I do,”she said.
Lund believes that many people have misconceptions about the practice of law, especially injury law. It’s common to think of injury law attorneys as “ambulance chasers, in it for the fee,” she said. However, there is a legitimate need to help clients who have been injured and are “navigating an unknown world of insurance,” perhaps trying to work despite an injury, not sleeping well, and making time for physical therapy and other medical appointments. “I don’t think anybody really understands it until you go through it,” she said.
Lund didn’t anticipate how deeply she would be affected by meeting and working with injured clients and accident victims’ surviving family members. “I’ve had to hold back tears at times,” she said.
Even though trial law is still a “male-dominated field,” Lund said she has always been treated fairly by presiding judges in court, although opposing counsel can occasionally be a little condescending. “I take that as an advantage when they underestimate you, don’t see you coming,” she said.
Despite her hectic work schedule, this busy single mother still finds much to do outside of the office. She donates time to United Way of Central Washington and serves on the board for Yakima County Volunteer Attorney Services. She also finds time for a personal life.
“Family is the most important thing to me,” she said, mentioning her 4-year-old son, William; and her dad, sister and brother-in-law, who all live in the Yakima Valley. Her mom also visits frequently from the west side of the state.
Lund enjoys cooking, reading and exercising, plus going to parks with her son and their dog, a mini goldendoodle named Watson. She appreciates how much easier it is to get together with friends and neighbors in Yakima, compared to the west side of the state. She loves the weather here and the many offerings in the arts, too.
Her law practice also adds meaning to her life. “I really enjoy doing personal injury work,” she said. “I feel like I really make a difference in the lives of my clients. At the end of the day, it’s a high like no other when you know that, by advocating for them, you have made life better!”