Cristine Beckwith, 2004 graduate, was deeply involved during her time at Gonzaga Law, serving on the Law Review, as president of the Women’s Law Caucus, as a Moot Court competitor, and winning awards in the Client Counseling Competition. Since then, she has continued her dedication to “dynamic, interesting, and challenging” work.
Tell us about yourself and your career
I am the Managing Member of one of the largest law firms in Washington State dedicated exclusively to criminal defense. I’ve handled thousands of criminal cases over my career. I initially started out as a criminal prosecutor, but found that my true passion was defending the accused not prosecuting them. Some of my greatest successes have been getting cases dismissed, not charged, or significantly reduced so that my clients do not have to go through unnecessary litigation.
I have put on continuing legal education courses regarding collateral consequences resulting from criminal charges, and defending juvenile sex offenses. I’ve guest authored for several publications, and have written a chapter in one of Aspatore criminal desk books that was released in the fall of 2013. I am rated ‘Superb,’ by avvo.com.
I have offices in Seattle and Tacoma, Washington, and serve the greater Puget Sound area. I am married with two children, ages seven and four.
What do you most enjoy about your profession?
The thing that I enjoy most about my practice is the opportunity to treat people accused of crimes with humanity and dignity. Often the accused, especially first offenders, have a sense of isolation and extreme anxiety. They have ease knowing that there is someone on their side not only to advocate for them, but to also navigate them through the criminal justice system with clear expectations. Having strong client communication and compassion is one of the most enjoyable parts of my practice. Additionally, being the owner of the firm, I get to select a staff that has the same ideals and sense of humanity in their practice. The attorneys in my firm are intelligent, passionate leaders in the legal community.
What is the most challenging aspect of your practice?
The most challenging portion is seeing attorneys practice without professionalism to one another, their staffs’ or to the accused. We are a small community and more importantly part of the same community. Everyone should treat others kindly, but it is particularly important when someone is in a position of power. I instill that expectation with my attorneys and support staff, and my firm has a great reputation amongst the opposing counsel, the courts, the legal community, and clients.
Why did you choose to attend law school?
I was only twenty-one when I started law school, and wasn’t entirely sure what practice area I was going to choose. I knew I wanted to have a graduate degree and a career in something that was dynamic, interesting and challenging, so the wide areas of practice led me to law school. Doing internships and externships with a civil litigation firm, and the Spokane Prosecutor’s office, helped me determine that criminal law was the best choice for me. The amount of court time and personal interactions with colleagues was the best fit for my personality.
How has your Gonzaga education influenced your career?
The theme and focus at GU Law was and continues to be service to others, and treating all people including within in the profession with courtesy and dignity. I carried that into my personal practice and it is the absolute standard that I set in my law firm.
What else are you passionate about?
Outside the law, I enjoy sailing, decorating and fashion. Our firm in addition to having high professional standards is also one of the most aesthetic legal work environments in the community. Creating beautiful spaces and instilling work life balance in the firm has in return giving me a wonderful staff of lawyers and paralegals.