Lem Howell is a civil rights “Knight in Shining Armor.” As a lawyer, his landmark lawsuits in Washington have made him a legend and arguably one of the best civil rights attorneys in the United States. Howell received his undergraduate degree from Lafayette College, with honors, in 1958 and his law degree from New York University in 1964. In 1965, he clerked for the Washington Supreme Court, and then served as an Assistant Attorney General until 1968. Since 1968, Howell has been in private practice, specializing in products liability, police misconduct and constitutional violations, medical negligence, and auto and construction site accidents.
During his more than 30 years of practice, Howell has acted as counsel or plaintiff in many of the regions most significant civil rights cases. For example, in 1969 Howell was lead counsel in the case of Central Contractors Assoc. v. Local Union No. 46, IBEW, et. al., 312 F. Supp 1388 (W.D. Wa. 1969), which ultimately caused Washington’s trade labor unions to open their doors to minority applicants who had historically been excluded from the construction industry. In 1979, Howell served as one of the named plaintiffs when LMBA joined in a civil rights suit against the State of Washington to ensure equal educational opportunities for minority school children. See Seattle School District No. 1, et. al. v. State, et.al., 473 F. Supp. 996 (W.D. Wa. 1979) (action filed by Philip L. Burton on behalf of LMB and th NAACP).
While developing his legal skills and enhancing his reputation within the bar, Howell simultaneously immersed himself in community and political activities. For example, he became State President of the Young Democrats in 1966, President of Central Seattle Community Councils Federation, a founding member of Trial Lawyers for Public Justice, and the first African-American member of the Board of Governors for the Association of Trial Lawyers of America, the Washington State Bar Association, and the Washington State Trial Lawyers Association (“WSTLA”). In recognition of his rise to the height of his profession, Howell is consistently listed in THE BEST LAWYERS IN AMERICA and was awarded Trial Lawyer of the Year in 1986 by WSTLA and in 1994 by the American Board of Trial Advocates. Howell served as LMBA’s President on two separate occasions.