Shannon J. Lawless

Shannon J. Lawless



Shannon’s law practice focuses on representing employers. She strategizes with human resources professionals and business owners on how to handle employment issues such as hiring, workplace complaints, requests for accommodation, and terminations in a way that follows the law and also meets business needs.

Shannon also reviews and drafts employee handbooks, company policies, and restrictive covenants such as non-competition and non-solicitation agreements. She works to develop long-term relationships with her clients and to serve as a trusted business partner, tailoring her advice to each client’s unique history and needs.

Shannon has developed a particular focus on Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act (PFMLA), advising companies of all sizes in preparing for the historic implementation of this law. She tracks the rulemaking process closely and has provided public comment and testimony on the law as it develops, individually and on behalf of her clients. Representative clients for Shannon’s PFMLA work include Zillow Group, American Seafoods and Seattle University.

When disputes arise, Shannon represents employers in federal and state court lawsuits, arbitrations, negotiated and mediated settlements, and government investigations. Her goal is to help clients find a practical solution to their business conflicts, whether inside or outside the courtroom.

Outside of employment law, Shannon devotes a portion of her practice to general commercial litigation. She particularly enjoys litigating real estate and contract disputes. Before joining Ryan Swanson, Shannon clerked for Justice Mary Fairhurst of the Washington State Supreme Court.


Representation of:

  • National airline in securing summary judgment dismissal of employee’s federal court claims of discrimination on the basis of race, national, origin and discrimination, affirmed by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • National railroad in federal court jury trial, securing defense verdict against claims of disability discrimination, affirmed by Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Large technology company in settling employee’s state court claims of failure to accommodate and disability discrimination
  • Local hardware company in negotiating early settlement of employee’s claim of retaliation due to workers’ compensation claim

Representation of:

  • Companies of all sizes in implementing Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave Act
  • Fast-growing, Seattle-based technology start-up company in all employment law issues, including performing employee trainings and assisting human resources in crafting company policies, strategizing on employee accommodations, terminations, and workplace issues
  • 120-employee marketing firm in complying with employment laws in the seven states where its employees work, including advising on company policy changes and managing risk of employee claims
  • Professionals and executives in understanding their non-competition and non-solicitation agreements, and navigating job transitions given these restrictions
REPRESENTATIVE EXPERIENCE – General Commercial Litigation

Representation of:

  • Family business with significant real estate holdings in state court case quieting title by adverse possession
  • Individual in quiet title action to resolve ownership of land prior to development
  • Website developer in securing payment from client following dispute on contract terms
  • Member of joint venture in negotiating exit from business after business relationship soured
Professional & Community Activities
  • Trustee of the King County Bar Association, Labor and Employment Law Section (2019-present)
  • ArtsFund Visionaries (2019-present)
  • WSBA Labor & Employment Section (Executive Committee Member – Defense, 2018-present)
  • Pacific Coast Labor & Employment Conference Planning Committee (2014-present; Subcommittee Chair 2017-2018)
  • King County Bar Association Labor & Employment Section (2014-present)
  • Washington Women Lawyers State Board (2011-2018; Board President 2015-2016)
  • Mother Attorneys Mentoring Association of Seattle (2013-present)
Speaking Engagements
  • Puget Sound Chapter, Association of Legal Administrators, “Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave: A Practical Approach to Law Firm Compliance” (2019)
  • WSBA Labor & Employment Section, “Designing Effective and Compliant Leave Policies” (2019)
  • Ryan Swanson Webinar, “Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave: Is Your Company Ready?” (2019)
  • Regular trainings for clients on various topics, including:
    • “Creating a Harassment-Free Workplace”
    • “How to Interview Legally”
    • “Employment Law Basics for Managers”
    • “Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave: Is Your Company Ready?”
  • WSBA Corporate Counsel Section, “Washington Paid Family and Medical Leave: Is Your Company Ready?” (2019)
  • Washington State Auto Dealers Association Engage Conference, “Not Your Parent’s Dealership: HR Challenges in the Modern Workplace” (2019)
  • Ryan Swanson’s Annual Employment Law Seminar
  • Co-presenter, panel for human services organizations organized by The Partners Group, “Surviving Allegations of Sexual Abuse, Harassment, & Discrimination” (2019)
  • Washington State Bar Association Labor & Employment Law Section CLE, “Representing Parties using the Seattle Labor Standards: Enforcing Workers’ Rights and Ensuring Business Compliance” (2019)
  • Association of Washington Business – Workplace Summit, “Ask a Lawyer: Legal Considerations for Workplace Practices” (2019)
  • Association of Washington Business – Webinar, “Preparing for Paid Family Leave & Medical Leave in Washington” (2018)
  • CEOtoCEO Breakfast, “Washington’s Paid Family and Medical Leave: Are You Ready?” (2018)
  • The Riveter, “Preparing for Paid Family and Medical Leave in Washington” (2018)
  • NTCA – The Rural Broadband Association, “Frequently Asked Questions About Employment Law” (2018)
  • Association of Washington Business Workplace Summit, “Legal Considerations for Workplace Practices” (2018)
  • Association of Washington Business Workplace Summit, “Generational Issues in the Workplace” (2017)
  • AMIN (Advertising & Marketing Independent Network Agency) HR Workshop, “Wage and Hour Compliance for Marketing Agencies” (2015)
Honors & Awards
  • Order of the Coif
  • Named to Washington Rising Star® list (2016-present)
  • Named to Top Women Attorneys in Washington® list (2016)


Shannon grew up in Ballard when it was less hipster and more Scandinavian fishing neighborhood. She is the third generation of attorneys with the last name “Lawless.” Shannon is passionate about increasing the representation of women in positions of leadership and influence in the business world, and is proud of her work on the Washington Women Lawyers board and informally in the community supporting other women professionals. She enjoys spending time with her family and friends, playing fetch with her dog, practicing yoga, hiking, running, golfing, and attending Seattle theater performances.