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June 5, 2009 3:32 PM

Trail Blazers: New Portland Firm's Web Site Gives Northwest Lifestyle Big Play

Posted by Ross Todd

The Am Law Daily ran across a story in the Portland Business Journal on Tuesday about Foster Pepper PLLC in Seattle and Foster Pepper LLP in Portland parting ways after a 21-year relationship. What caught our eye initially was the fact that the Portland firm changed its name to Roberts Kaplan. Surely, The Am Law Daily thought, the good folks at the PBJ didn't confuse this move with a Portland hiring spree by Minneapolis firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi.

Sure enough, a quick Google search linked us to Roberts Kaplan's new web site, replete with a snazzy design and myriad references to the vaunted Portland lifestyle. Check out the homepage: Is this a web site or is a trailhead? The "About" page puts you atop a Roberts Kaplan ski run. But the most radical bit of design--in every sense of the word radical--can be found on the firm's "Attorneys" page

Mouse over each of the 26 lawyer photos, and a picture revealing a slice of Pacific Northwest life pops up. There's partner Jason Wright roadside on Highway 101 with his son next to the family's 1984 Volkswagen Vanagon. Here's associate Jacqueline Bishop chilling out in a kayak. And check out name partner Kenneth Roberts straddling his Harley. ("I 'escape' on my Harley less than I would like, but I always have my Blackberry on me!" he writes.)

We caught up with firm spokeswoman Heather Oden to talk about the site. "This firm really is a lifestyle firm," says Oden, who brought in four consulting companies to design the site. "They do think there is life outside the billable hour."

So who do these laid back Pacific Northwesterners bill hours for? There's a conspicuous lack of specifics in the firm's practice areas and Oden says that was on purpose. She says the firm does work for a lot of community banks, large auto dealers, and folks who need big deals done "without all the fluff of a big firm."

Speaking of fluff--and while we're on the topic of the Rose City--anyone in need of some weekend reading is directed to this humurous take on The New York Times recent obsession with all-things-Portland from The Oregonian.

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