Bill Blair has been an Oregon attorney since 1969. He graduated from Willamette University College of Law that year and took a position with the City of Salem as Assistant City Attorney—a position he held for nearly 28 years.

While serving Salem as an attorney, Bill worked in nearly every practice area within the office—including assignment as the principal trial attorney representing the city in civil cases—mostly self-insurance defense (personal injuries, police liability, employee civil rights, etc.) During that time he worked on legislative issues relating to the Oregon Tort Claims Act, Oregon Public Contracting Law, and the Oregon Public Records Law.

Between 1997 and his retirement in 2010, Bill served Washington County as Senior Assistant County Counsel, handling most civil litigation involving Washington County in state and federal court.

Bill has been a writer and lecturer for the Oregon State Bar Association, the Oregon Law Institute, the League of Oregon Cities, the Association of Oregon Counties, the Oregon District Attorneys Association, the Oregon chapter of the Public Risk and Insurance Managers Association, the Oregon Chapter of the American Public Works Association, and the Oregon Sheriff’s Association.

In the course of his 41 years as a member of the Oregon State Bar Association, Bill has served both local governments and the legal profession in many roles:
  • Oregon State Bar House of Delegates
  • Uniform Civil Jury Instructions Committee(the committee which writes the model jury instructions used by Oregon lawyers and judges)
  • Committee on Legal Ethics
  • Disciplinary Board (the Bar’s trial board hearing cases of attorney misconduct)
  • Bar Counsel (prosecuting lawyers accused of misconduct)
  • Oregon Attorney General’s Task Force on Police Use of Deadly Force
  • 2008 Joint Legislative Interim Task Force on the Oregon Tort Claims Act
  • Oregon State Sheriff’s Association Command College faculty
Having defended numerous lawsuits involving law enforcement, including cases involving the use of deadly force, Bill has developed a special interest in the impact of deadly force cases on the involved officer, fellow officers, the agency, the surviving family members, and the general public. In addition to teaching on this subject as part of the faculty of the Oregon State Sheriffs Association Command College, he has served on the Attorney General’s Task Force on Police Use of Deadly Force, and given invited testimony before the Oregon Legislature on the subject.

The Oregon Tort Claims Act has been an evolving creature over the years since it was first enacted in 1967. Since 1971, Bill has been an active advocate before the Oregon Legislature in connection with most of the amendments marking the evolution of that Act. Most recently, he served by appointment of the Senate President and Speaker of the House as a lay member of the 2008 Joint Legislative Interim Task Force on the Oregon Tort Claims Act.

In 1975, when the insurance market for local government liability insurance almost dried up and cities and counties could only find coverage at very high rates (if they could find it at all), Bill was asked to serve on a tort liability task force created by the League of Oregon Cities and Association of Oregon Counties. The efforts of that task force included successful support of major changes to the Tort Claims Act and the Oregon Insurance Code. The latter permitted local governments to form pools for insurance and self-insurance. Enabled by those legislative changes, LOC and AOC created City/County Insurance Services to give cities and counties an alternative to buying insurance directly in the market. Bill served as the first chair of the board of directors of CIS. Today, CIS has become a self-insured pool, and insures most Oregon cities and counties who are not self-insured.

While in Salem, Bill served as general counsel to the Mid-Willamette Valley Council of Governments, where he acquired experience in inter-governmental legal issues, and served as general counsel to the Mid-Willamette Valley Cable Regulatory Commission.

As a trial lawyer, Bill has had a special interest in crafting the best tools and techniques to fit each particular case to make courtroom presentations more instructive and persuasive. He has also developed a method for preparing witnesses for success in both deposition and trial.

Bill’s skill and experience in hands-on defense of tort and civil rights claims has become the basis for several training programs designed to prepare law enforcement line officers, supervisors, administrators and agency heads to better understand and anticipate the challenges they will face when law enforcement action and corrections activities result in litigation.

Now retired from public service after more than 40 years, Bill has established a private practice of law concentrating on legal disputes involving government agencies.

© 2010 William G. Blair, PC | (503) 608-7222 |