Emma O. Gillespie

Member, Seattle

Emma O. Gillespie Profile Picture

Rated by SuperLawyers

Professional Experience

Emma Gillespie’s practice focuses on defending people, businesses, schools, and governmental entities in civil litigation.  Emma has nearly two decades of defense litigation experience and has attended the National Institute of Trial Advocacy. She has handled a broad range of cases during her career, including claims involving wrongful death, bodily injury, sex abuse, assault, hostile work environment, discrimination, cargo loss, motor vehicle collisions, premises liability, trip and falls, and catastrophic injuries.  Her practice focuses largely on school law, and she has handled hundreds of school liability cases for school districts across the state since earning approval as panel counsel for the Washington Schools Risk Management Pool in 2008.

Emma focuses on evaluating the unique facts of each case, and working with her clients from the beginning of the case to determine the best strategy for handling each matter. She believes that early intervention can reduce overall exposure to her clients, and that early case analysis can reduce both the length of time a case is in litigation and the associated costs. She also understands that litigation can impact clients in a variety of ways, from consuming valuable resources to respond to discovery to creating anxiety relating to reliving a catastrophic event and to the litigation itself. Emma is sensitive to the potential political ramifications each case can have with staff and more broadly within the local or even national community.

Education

Emma graduated cum laude from Seattle University School of Law in May of 2002.

She received a Bachelor's Degree in Politics, as well as a Certificate in Environmental Studies from Princeton University in 1999.

Admitted to Practice

  • Washington State Courts (WSBA #33255)
  • United States District Court, Western District of Washington

Professional & Community Activities

  • Emma is a member of the Washington State Bar Association, the King County Bar Association, the Council of School Attorneys (both local and national), and the Washington State Defense Trial Lawyers.
  • She is the Pro Bono coordinator for Preg O’Donnell & Gillett, a program that she initiated and implemented for the firm and through which the firm provides legal services to those in need.
  • Emma is also a board member for All Girl Everything Ultimate Program (AGE UP), a nonprofit committed to social justice that invests in people of color, black, and indigenous youth in South Seattle.

Publications & Presentations

  • Presenter, “Service Animals,” K-20 training sponsored by Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, February 12, 2021.
  • Presenter, “Supervision & Liability Issues in School Sponsored Events,” K-20 training sponsored by Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, February 13, 2020.
  • Presenter, “Search and Seizure in School Settings: Balancing School Needs and Student Constitutional Protections” sponsored by Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, October 24, 2019.
  • Presenter, “Navigating Student Mental Health Concerns” School Law Conference Sponsored by Washington School Personnel Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, October 14, 2019.
  • Presenter, “Athletic Liability: Legal issues and trending topics,” School Law Conference Sponsored by Washington School Personnel Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, October 15, 2018; update sponsored by Washington Schools Risk Management Pool in Spring 2021.
  • Presenter, “Student Safety: Ten Hidden Hazards,” School Law Conference Sponsored by Washington School Personnel Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, October 17, 2017.
  • Presenter, “Handling Hostile Work Environment Allegations: From the Offended to the Offensive,” School Law Conference Sponsored by Washington School Personnel Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, October 18, 2016.
  • Presenter, “Outbreak! Pandemic! Panic! Immunizations and Tools for Preventing and Responding to Communicable Diseases,” School Law Conference Sponsored by Washington School Personnel Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, October 20, 2015.
  • Presenter, “Risk Management for School Nurses,” K-20 training sponsored by OSPI, Olympia, WA, October 21, 2015.
  • Presenter, “FERPA 201,” School Law Conference sponsored by Washington School Personnel Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, October 14, 2014.
  • Presenter, "Physical Security of Student Records," National Business Institute Seminar, Seattle, WA, December 11, 2013.
  • Presenter, "Rules for Schools: Steps to Avoid Liability," School Law Conference sponsored by Washington School Personnel Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Seattle, WA, October 14, 2013.
  • Presenter, "Farm to School Webinar," sponsored by Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, December 4, 2012.
  • Presenter, "Liability Concerns Arising from Procurement of Local Foods as well as Farm to School and Related School Programs," School Law Conference sponsored by Washington School Personnel Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, October 22, 2012.
  • Presenter, "Dangerous Students in Our Schools," School Law Conference sponsored by Washington School Personnel Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Tukwila, WA, October 18, 2010.
  • Presenter, "Athletic Liability Training," Washington Schools Risk Management Pool seminar at the Puget Sound Educational Service offices in Renton and Anacortes, WA, October 8 and November 18, 2009.
  • Presenter, "Media Relations for School Boards and Administrators," School Law Seminar sponsored by Washington Education Association and Washington Schools Risk Management Pool, Seattle, WA, October 26, 2009.

Honors

Emma was named a Washington Law & Politics Rising Star in 2009, 2013-2018, and a Super Lawyer in 2020.