Two divisions from the Department of Public Defense (DPD) are moving into leased space at the Dexter Horton Building next week, the first step in what will eventually become a consolidation of DPD’s downtown Seattle staff into one location.
The Director’s Office – about 30 people located on the second and fourth floors of the Chinook Building – and the Associated Counsel for the Accused Division – about 75 attorneys, paralegals, investigators, mitigation specialists and support staff located in the Prefontaine Building – are moving to Dexter Horton. Their first day in their new building will be Monday, Dec. 12.
Note: DPD’s phone numbers will not change. The new addresses for the two divisions are:
Other divisions are expected to move into Dexter Horton over the course of 2017. Eventually, DPD hopes to have all of its employees who represent clients in the King County Courthouse or Seattle Municipal Court – or who provide support to those who represent clients – located in the Dexter Horton Building.
The move to Dexter Horton, a historic building that is also LEED-certified, makes enormous sense, said Lorinda Youngcourt, DPD’s director. The building is located at 3rd Avenue and Cherry Street in downtown Seattle, one block from the King County Courthouse and much closer than the buildings some of DPD’s divisions currently occupy. It will also enable the department to continue to build a stronger sense of camaraderie, promote a higher profile in the criminal justice community, establish more collaboration and experience some of the other benefits that come with a single department.
“This move will strengthen the department and support client-centered defense,” Youngcourt said. “Clients now have to navigate a complex system to locate their attorneys, some of whom are far from the courthouse. Our location in Dexter Horton will make it easier for clients, and I believe it will be better for all of us.”
Since its creation more than three years ago, DPD has been a far-flung department, with staff in several different offices in downtown Seattle. The ACA Division, for instance, is in Pioneer Square; another division, the Society of Counsel Representing Accused Persons, is at 14th and Jefferson, near the Youth Services Center. The consolidation into one downtown building marks a milestone for the department, enabling the divisions to be clearly separated – required by conflict of interest rules that govern law practices – yet also to work more collaboratively when needs and opportunities arise.
The relocation has also been an enormous undertaking, made more challenging by a tight timeline and the complexities of moving legal offices, Youngcourt said. She praised the Facilities Management Division, KCIT, the Budget Office, DPD’s leadership team and others who have put in long hours and considerable effort to ensure a smooth transition. The Executive Office and County Council have also provided important leadership and support, she said.
“Many people in several different parts of the county have worked with us to make this complex transition happen. I’m grateful for their hard work, considerable skill and ongoing support,” she said.