Judge David ReesJudge David Rees

Multnomah County Circuit Court Judge David Rees


David Rees, one of Multnomah County's three newest circuit court judges, came to the bench from a civil trial practice with a wealth of experience and an excitement for learning new areas of the law.

Judge Rees was raised and educated in California. After graduating from Stanford University in 1989 with a degree in applied earth science, he wasn't sure whether to pursue environmental engineering or environmental law. After a few years spent working as a land use planner in his native San Diego, he came down on the side of law. He had many examples to follow: at least six other family members (a number that would later come to include his wife) are lawyers practicing in a diversity of specialties.

Judge Rees attended Boalt Hall, earning his JD in 1994. There, he helped found the environmental law community clinic, and also volunteered at the Berkeley Community Law Center. Judge Rees served as the articles editor on the Ecology Law Quarterly. He spent his first summer clerking with the San Francisco City and County Attorney's Office.

After his second year of law school, Judge Rees worked as a summer associate at the firm that would soon hire him, Stoll Berne. He was attracted to trial work because it was a natural fit for his personality. He and his wife had surveyed a number of potential cities in which to make their home, and Portland, with its outdoorsiness and livability, topped the list. As it happened, Judge Rees spent the next 15 years here working happily at the firm as a commercial litigator. His emphasis was in securities litigation.

Upon moving to Portland, Judge Rees was pleased to discover the openness and collegiality of the bar. The legal system here, to his mind, is "user-friendly." It is also civic-minded, and Judge Rees exemplified that, serving on the Council on Court Procedures and in leadership roles with the OSB Pro Bono Committee and Oregon Trial Lawyers Association (where he sat on both the Board of Governors and the amicus committee).

A call to public service and the challenge of learning many new areas of law impelled Judge Rees to apply for the bench. He thought that the process we use for picking judges in Oregon was both fair and personally valuable to him, considering how much it prompted him to think about the progress of his career and what qualities he has admired in judges before whom he has appeared. He also noted that, not counting himself, recent appointments are "really top-notch."

The collegiality that Judge Rees found in Portland's bar has followed him to the bench. He has been overwhelmed by the kindness of his colleagues, who have welcomed him and shared intellectual and personal resources from day one. He inherited Judge Bearden's staff, who were invaluable. Judge Rees is now working in the Justice Center handling arraignments, and will soon be on a trial rotation. He feels that he is doing important work and that every day is exciting.

The chief message Judge Rees has for the counsel who will appear before him is to communicate with each other. A particularly valuable piece of advice he got when he was starting out in practice was that opposing counsel needed to sit down and get to know each other over lunch. That was true then and it remains true. It is important to build up a rapport and to create trust with opposing counsel and to keep the focus on the factual and legal issues that need to be decided. Sometimes resources are wasted just because people donít communicate. In that vein, Judge Rees hopes people leave his court thinking that heís heard them and that heíll make the best call he can based on the positions the litigants have communicated to him.

Judge Rees brings approachability, broad trial experience, and the ability to facilitate relationships to the bench. All of us who have the good fortune to appear before him will, it seems clear from the get-go, be grateful for those qualities.

Authored by Bear Wilner-Nugent and originally published in the September 2009 Multnomah Lawyer

Updated for the Internet in 2012