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Mike Tardif
Founding Partner 

Mike was born and raised in Seattle.  He graduated Summa Cum Laude from Seattle University in 1971 with a Bachelor of Arts in history with a minor in economics.  Mike then attended University of Washington Law School graduating in 1974 with a Juris Doctor.  In 1980, Mike furthered his education at the University of Puget Sound where he obtained a Master of Business Administration.   

Mike began legal employment in 1973 as a law clerk for the University of Washington Division of the Washington State Attorney General’s Office. He then worked full time after graduation in the Employment Security Division. Mike became the Section Chief of the division representing the Department of Labor and Industries in administrative law matters and advising the Director and Assistant Director in daily operations.

In 1982, Mike began what would become a decades long connection with the Torts Division, becoming the Division Chief in 1987. At the time, the small division of seven Olympia attorneys handled tort defense for all state agencies. Over the next 20 years, the Division grew to over 50 lawyers, 100 support staff, and handles thousands of claims and lawsuits per year. Mike handled every area of government liability, including civil rights, employment, regulatory, highway design and improvement, corrections, law enforcement and social welfare.  Mike also advised the state risk management office after it expanded in the late 1980s and was part of the team that went to London to negotiate the State’s first excess liability policies with Lloyd’s insurance consortia.  During this time, Mike drafted tort related legislation for the State and testified in the Legislature on tort bills affecting government liability.

Mike was the author of the multi-state amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court in Pierce County v. Guillen (2003), a case unanimously reversing a Washington State Supreme Court decision and became a national precedent on the issue of plaintiffs’ use of transportation agency safety data against the agency in tort claims. Mike retired from the Torts Division in 2007.

Mike’s success with the Torts Division and skilled experience is called upon regularly in his private practice where SSFST contracts with the State to defend the State in tort liability cases.

Mike served on the Government Lawyers Association as its representative to the Washington State Bar Association in the early 1980s.  From 1984 to 1987, Mike was a member, and then Vice-Chair and Chair, of the Bar Disciplinary Board, responsible for overseeing investigation of lawyer misconduct and hearing appeals from discipline imposed. 

Simultaneously, Mike began work for the Transportation Research Board, a sub-division of the federally chartered National Academy of Sciences and an internationally recognized authority on transportation issues and research. From 1990 to 2005, as member of the TRB Tort and Risk Management Committee, he was one of two members appointed to the Context Sensitive Design Committee and worked as the liability adviser to the Bicycle Committee. Mike became the Chair of TRB’s Local Resource Committee in 2009 and is currently serving in that capacity.

Mike’s expertise is documented in publications and professional speaking engagements, including co-authoring Washington’s 45 Year Experiment in Government Liability with AG Robert McKenna (29 S.U. Law Rev. 1 (2005). 

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