Rhea J. Rolfe


Rhea J. Rolfe has been practicing law for over thirty-five years, primarily as a private solo practitioner. She has taught college-level law-related courses, including Women and the Law, Business Law, and Women of Color in America, and has been a featured speaker for Continuing Legal Education seminars. She has been an investigator for human rights agencies, and the Washington State Bar Association. Rhea has been an arbitrator, mediator, and guardian ad litem for the courts, and a hearing examiner for the City of Seattle Civil Service Commission. She currently focuses her practice on family law, with a specialty in interstate and international custody and abduction issues (UCCJEA and Hague Convention). Rhea was an editor for the WSBA Family Law Deskbook, and is on the YWCA Pathways for Women Displaced Homemakers’ Advisory Board, Operation Lookout Advisory Board, and the Washington Blues Society Board of Directors.

Attorney.General Practice of Law, March 1984 to present. Emphasis on domestic law, child support, custody, (especially interstate and international custody/UCCJEA & Hague Convention cases), adoptions, Guardian ad litem, wills and probate, discrimination, mediation, and arbitration.

Hearing Examiner, pro tem., City of Seattle Civil Service Commission, December 1987 to April, 2002. Conducted hearings on appeals of disciplinary action and rules violations relating to employment; wrote Findings of Fact, Conclusions of Law, and Decisions; assisted in developing employment policy, procedures, and rules; assisted in settlements.

Investigator. Delany, Siegel, Zorn & Associates, Boston, Massachusetts, June 1985 to 1987.Investigated employment discrimination cases under contract with the U.S. government.Took affidavits, gathered documents and other evidence, and prepared case files.

Instructor. University of Washington, Women Studies, Autumn 1978 through summer 1985. Taught course on Women and the Law, concentrating on employment, housing, health care, education, criminal law, constitutional law, family law and other areas. Organized projects, placed volunteers, prepared and graded exams, scheduled speakers and films, graded projects and papers. Co-taught course on Women of Color in America, focusing on the status and history of American women in four major ethnic groups.Supervised independent study.

Instructor. Western Washington State University Urban Center, Seattle, Washington, Spring 1979 to 1987. Taught Business Law and Urban Law in seminar setting. Business law included contracts, agency property, UCC and other elements. Urban Law included legal fundamentals, constitutional law, family law, consumer law criminal law, discrimination law, and other elements. Placed volunteers from the class with appropriate agencies.Held mock criminal trial and mock administrative hearing.

Session Attorney. Washington State Senate Committee on Energy and Utilities, February to April 1985. Assisted and advised Senators on existing and proposed legislation and issues relating to energy and utilities. Performed research, report writing and negotiation between diverse parties.Presented written and oral reports at Committee meetings. Analyzed problems with existing legislation or proposed legislation and suggested possible solutions.

Staff Attorney. Washington State Bar Association, March 1982 to March 1984. Investigated complaints of attorney misconduct, pursuant to the Rules of Lawyer Discipline and the Code of Professional Responsibility; legal research, drafting legal documents; prepared written reports for the Disciplinary Board; conducted depositions; took cases to hearing; negotiated settlements; wrote briefs; went to court as necessary.

Legal Advisor. Seattle Office of Women’s Rights, April 1979 through August 1980. Reviewed employment and housing discrimination cases after investigation; negotiated settlements; drafted legal documents and formal complaints; wrote Opinions for Women’s Commissioner; took cases to hearing; represented the Office and Director at hearings, public meetings, schools and before the City Council, City Attorney’s Office, Mayor’s Office, the media, community and other groups; reviewed and drafted legislation and issues affecting women and minorities; drafted major portions of the budget and annual report; supervised Enforcement Division; supervised other divisions as needed.

Conciliation Officer. Seattle Human Rights Department, November 1978 to April 1979. Reviewed investigators’ findings on complaints of employment and house discrimination pursuant to Seattle Ordinances; negotiated settlements, drafted legal documents, took depositions, conducted fact finding conferences; prepared cases for hearing.

Investigator. Seattle Human Rights Department, September 1976 to November 1978. Conducted intake of complaints of housing and employment discrimination; conducted fact finding conferences; interviewed parties and witnesses; analyzed statistics, cases and other information; negotiated settlements; wrote findings of fact and recommendations.

Areas of Practice

  • Divorce/Separation
  • Child Support
  • Custody
  • Adoptions
  • Interstate and International Jurisdiction and Custody Issues
  • Alternative Dispute Resolution
  • Wills/Property Agreements
  • Arbitration
  • Mediation
  • Living Wills
  • Powers of Attorney and Appointment
  • Alimony & Spousal Support
  • Childrens’ Rights
  • Custody & Visitation
  • Domestic Violence & Neglect
  • Paternity
  • Prenuptial Agreements

Litigation Percentage

• 70% of Practice Devoted to Litigation

Bar Admissions

  • Washington, 1976
  • U.S. District Court Western District of Washington, 1976
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 9th Circuit, 2000


  • University of Puget Sound School of Law, Tacoma, Washington
    • J.D. – May, 1976
  • University of Washington, Seattle, Washington
    • B.A. – August, 1970
    • Major: Romance Linguistics
  • University of Washington, Seattle, Washington – 1971
    • Major: Linguistics (Graduate Work)

Published Works

  • Young Lawyers Practice Manual Chapter on Law Against Discrimination, (Co-Author), 1981
  • Law and Women, Continuing Legal Education Seminar, 1980


  • Women in the Law/Women of Color in America, University of Washington, 1978 – 1985
  • Business Law/Urban Law, Western Washington State University, 1979 – 1987
  • Speaker, Operation Lookout Symposium on Missing and Exploited Children
  • Speaker, Law and Women, Continuing Legal Education Seminar , 1980
  • Speaker, Women and Foreign Policy, World Affairs Council Conference, 1985
  • Instructor, University of Washington, Women Studies, 1978 – 1985
  • Instructor, Western Washington State University Urban Center, Seattle, Washington, 1979 – 1987

Professional Associations and Memberships

  • Tenth Farwest Regional Conference on Women and the Law, Advisor
  • University of Washington Law School Client Counseling and Appellate competitions, Judge
  • King County Bar Association
  • King County Superior Court Arbitrator
  • University of Washington Law School, Mentor
  • Snohomish County Bar Association
  • Snohomish County Superior Court Arbitrator
  • World Affairs Council Conference on Women and Foreign Policy, Workshop Moderator, 1985
  • Washington State Legislative Conference on Child Support and Paternity, Steering Committee, 1983
  • University of Puget Sound Law Alumni Society, Board of Directors, 1978 – 1980
  • Washington Blues Society, Board of Directors, 2004 – Present
  • Washington State Bar Association, 1976
  • Washington Women Lawyers
  • City of Seattle Civil Service Commission, Hearing Examiner, Pro Tem, 1987 – 2002
  • Delany, Siegel, Zorn & Associates, Boston, Massachusetts, Investigator, 1985 – 1987
  • Washington State Senate Committee on Energy and Utilities, Session Attorney, 1985
  • Washington State Bar Association, Staff Attorney, 1982 – 1984
  • Seattle Office of Women’s Rights, Legal Advisor, 1979 – 1980
  • Seattle Human Rights Department, Conciliation Officer, 1978 – 1979
  • Seattle Human Rights Department, Investigator, 1976 – 1978
  • Plain Language Forms Committee for the Courts
  • Family Law Executive Committee for the Washington State Bar Association Family Law Section, Selected for a 3 year term

Past Employment Positions

  • Law Offices of Rhea J. Rolfe, 1986 – 2011
  • City of Seattle Civil Service Commission, Hearing Examiner, pro tem, 1987 – 2002

Pro Bono Activities

  • Mentor, University of Washington Law School
  • Judge, Moot Court Appellate Competition, University of Washington
  • Blanchet Community Orchestra (Viola)
  • YWCA Pathways for Women, Displaced Homemakers Advisory Board