Jim’s practice emphasizes providing quality legal services, focusing on business and maritime matters and the fishing industry. Jim applies over 40 years of experience in advising clients on a variety of legal and business issues. His success stems from an ability to translate complex legal concepts into clear, usable information, and to offer his clients strategies for resolving difficult problems in a cost-effective manner. He has built long-lasting relationships with his clients so that he can provide legal services that are closely tailored to each client’s needs.
Prior to entering private practice, Jim, a graduate of the Coast Guard Academy, served on a Coast Guard cutter operating up and down the east coast. After graduating from George Washington University Law School, he was a Coast Guard Legal Officer in Washington, D.C working with the Department of Justice on Coast Guard litigation, adjudicating claims involving the Coast Guard, and investigating and reviewing marine casualties throughout the United States. When he was later assigned to the Coast Guard’s regional headquarters in Seattle, he provided legal advice to Coast Guard units throughout the Pacific Northwest on maritime, environmental, regulatory, criminal and litigation matters.
In addition to his service in the Coast Guard, Jim has real-world business experience. He was CEO of a PNW shipyard, and also managed two fishing vessels engaged in fisheries in Alaska and off the Pacific coast. That work was very helpful, as it gave Jim experience as a “client”, a bit of an eye opener for any attorney, and helped him better understand what clients are looking for when they contact an attorney.
Jim has served for years as a volunteer dedicated to a number of causes. He serves on the Explorer West Middle School Board and has served on the Seattle Leadership Council of Save the Children. Jim is on the North Pacific Fishing Vessel Owner’s Association Board, and has also co-chaired the Maritime Law Committee of the Federal Bar Association and chaired the Maritime and Fisheries Section of the King County Bar Association.
Before joining Helsell Fetterman, Jim previously practiced with his own firm, Woeppel Law PLLC, similarly focusing on business and maritime matters and the fishing industry. Prior to that he spent over 30 years at the Seattle law firm of Aiken, St. Louis & Siljeg, PS, where he was the Managing Partner.
Jim enjoys spending time with his wife, at home, around the city and traveling. And, as time allows, he plays soccer, tennis, pickleball, not so good golf, and enjoys attending Seattle sports teams games and concerts, and cheering on his beloved Nebraska Cornhuskers.
Admitted to Practice
- Washington State Bar, 1983
- Washington, D.C. Bar, 1978 (inactive status)
- Washington State Bar Association
- King County Bar Association
- Maritime Law Association – Proctor