The setup of the law office of 2010 Oregon State Bar (OSB) President Kathleen A. Evans JD’82 reveals a lot about her. It is situated inside a white, 1911-vintage house with a blue roof and trim, on 13th Street in Salem, Ore., with a staircase leading up to a door on the right. On one side is her practice, Evans Batlan Attorneys at Law. On the other side is her husband’s business. Michael B. Batlan BS’75, MBA’81 is a self-employed bankruptcy trustee.
Seated at a desk in Evans’ office is associate attorney Cecelia L. Batlan BA’05, JD’08, the couple’s oldest daughter. Besides Cecelia, they have a younger daughter, Libby Batlan. Somewhere in the middle of all this is their 14-year-old Australian Shepherd, Murray. “It’s a very family-oriented place,” Evans said. “That’s been one of the joys of my life.”
Such a scenario is everything that Evans’ mother feared would never occur after Evans made the decision to go to law school in the late 1970s. “She was horrified,” Evans said. “She thought there was no way I could have a family. But she quickly came around.”
The oldest of four children, Evans had a “very traditional upbringing” in Tacoma, Wash. She was the first in her family to attend college, earning a Bachelor of Arts in political science at Washington State University before enrolling at Willamette University College of Law. She entered law school knowing only that she wanted to obtain a graduate degree. “Once I got a taste of law school, it fit,” she said.
Following her first year of law school, William C. Crothers Jr. BA’66, JD’69 hired Evans as a law clerk. She went on to work with him for nine years, first as an associate and then as a partner. In that office she handled hundreds of creditors’ rights cases at a time when Chapter 11 was in its infancy. During those first years in practice, Evans also began volunteering for bar activities, chairing the executive committee of the OSB Debtor-Creditor Section and serving on that committee for nine years, as well as being a contributing author of the Oregon Commercial Practice Manual.
In 1990, she started her own practice, which she now limits to estate planning and administration and business planning. Although Evans has served as a mediator and continues to act as an arbitrator, most of her time is spent working with small businesses and clients whose estates range from modest to substantial. She finds the relationships and friendships she builds through advising clients satisfying and intellectually stimulating. “What I like most is looking at a set of circumstances for a family and finding solutions that help them transition,” Evans said.
Evans was thrilled that her daughter Cecelia decided to go into law and then join her mother as an associate after graduating from Willamette in 2008. Batlan said she never felt any pressure to join the legal profession or to practice with her mother. “Like a sponge, I try to soak up everything she does,” Batlan said. “She’s been there; I really respect her. I don’t think I would want to deviate from anything she does.”
Although family always has been her priority, Evans has participated in bar and community activities as much as possible throughout her career. She was a co-founder and 1994–95 president of the Willamette Valley American Inns of Court, and she served as president of the Marion County Bar Association in 1992. Her community service includes serving on the board of directors and board of trustees of the Salem YWCA, as well as on the board of trustees of the Boys & Girls Club of Salem.
“I believe I’ve been really fortunate in life, and have an obligation to give back,” Evans said. “If one of the ways I can do that is volunteering, I think that makes sense.”
Former Oregon Supreme Court Justice Susan M. Leeson BA’68, JD’71, a classmate of Evans during law school, said she admires Evans’ “remarkable” sense of balance in being a public-service-oriented lawyer who, at the same time, is so devoted to family. “Kathy has one of the most stellar characters I have ever encountered,” Leeson said. “She’s incredibly dedicated and very smart.”
Before throwing her name into the hat for OSB president, however, Evans said she had to fully consider the time commitment involved in holding such a post. She recalled a piece of advice offered to her at the time: Past-OSB President Albert A. Menashe JD’76 told Evans that “this will be the best year of your professional life.”
Evans said a great personal benefit of her choosing to become active in bar service is the interaction it gives her with other attorneys. “I think lawyers are some of the most interesting people,” said Evans, who added that being able to associate with attorneys all across the state is “one of the things I’m going to really enjoy” as president.
Kathleen A. Evans
“I believe I’ve been really fortunate in life, and have an obligation to give back. If one of the ways I can do that is volunteering, I think that makes sense.”