After 40 years in the business, a Colfax attorney is leaving his practice to become a judge in Whitman County, and he wants his clients to know they will be left in good hands.
Gary Libey, 65, of Libey & Ensley, PLLC, ran unopposed to replace retiring superior court Judge David Frazier, and has sold his company to law firm Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf, PS.
Most of Libey's staff, including partner Bruce Ensley, will join the new law firm, which is building an office in Colfax on Main Street - in the former location of Glaser's Jewelry. The new office will begin operating in January.
Libey said Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf was an obvious choice because its size can handle Libey & Ensley's large client base. Libey estimates that number is close to 1,000.
"It's a substantial practice," he said of the new firm.
Additionally, it will be staffed by lawyers with ties to Colfax and Whitman County: Rusty McGuire, John Kragt and Matthew Johnson. Kragt's family has roots in Colfax, and Johnson's family has owned Tick Klock Drugs in town for decades, according to a letter Libey sent to his clients.
"We have lawyers that are from here and will stay here," Libey told the Daily News on Monday.
Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf currently has multiple offices in eastern Washington, including in St. John and Rosalia.
Libey said his main concern in making the decision was whether the sale would cause his clients to move to another practice.
"I asked myself that many times," he said.
That's why, he said, it was important to find reliable attorneys to take his place.
Libey said the new firm will be a great opportunity for the younger lawyers on staff to begin building lifetime clients, much like he did when he started in the business at age 25.
"We're looking for a new generation of lawyers coming through the ranks," Libey said.
McGuire said he doesn't expect all of Libey's clients to stay with the company, but said most have already chosen to keep their files there.
He, too, reiterated the importance of earning their confidence and trust.
"It's important to make sure those clients are taken care of," McGuire said.
One important difference clients can expect is the elimination of litigation services, as Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf does not offer litigation. They will continue to focus on business and estate law, which were services provided by Libey's staff.
For Libey, this change will offer him a chance to give back to the community he's been a part of for four decades, he said. When he heard Frazier was retiring, Libey felt that at his age, it was the right time to make a change, he said. As luck would have it, Carpenter, McGuire & DeWulf had already been looking to expand into Colfax.
Though Libey will be changing jobs, he is not going anywhere any time soon. He and his wife, a Colfax native, love the area and the people they've made connections with, he said.
"I think this is the greatest place in the world to live," Libey said.
Libey will be sworn in as judge Dec. 30 and begin Jan. 9.
Anthony Kuipers can be reached at (208) 883-4640, or by email to firstname.lastname@example.org.