Holly K. Towle, Seattle Information Technology Law "Lawyer of the Year" 2016

Working to achieve excellence in serving clients and the community

K&L Gates
Best Lawyers

Best Lawyers

December 3, 2016 12:00 AM

Holly Towle didn’t always know that she wanted to be a lawyer. Just out of college, Towle taught junior high school, but she sensed that she needed something that would reward her formidable intelligence and chose a career in law. Towle had a variety of interests—she is a glass artist who has had success selling her works and has a down-to-earth sense of humor, saying of Seattle traffic: “If we’re going to live in a technological age, it would be nice to fast forward to a Jetson’s flying car solution!” Nevertheless, Towle’s father was a lawyer and her mother remains a “fearless defender of unpopular viewpoints,” so being drawn to the law was inevitable.

“As for my expertise in e-commercial and information law, I would like to say it was a brilliant business plan, but like most things in life, it was the confluence of having acquired a diverse background of knowledge and being in the right place at the right time,” says Towle. “My path started in banking, commercial, and consumer law, and that led to involvement in a national project revising traditional contract law for sales of goods to work for information licensing. I emerged over a decade later with my original background intact and supplemented by a deep knowledge of technology, licensing, and information-age issues.”
Now, Towle works primarily in the firm’s international technology transactions practice group and is a partner out of K&L Gates’ Seattle office. Towle sees hers as “a global office,” prominent both for the globally-reaching tech companies, universities, and businesses that the firm works with and for the expertise that she and her firm bring to the table. “I’m not a programmer, developer, or tech science person,” says a humble Towle, but her forte is finding how the law relates to technology and commerce.
Though not a techie, Towle keeps up with new technology in her work and very clearly emphasizes that the outcomes of legal battles over new technology often depend on how that technology works. Towle points to “big data,” privacy, and security as new issues that increasingly come up in her practice, underlining how her ability to adapt to new challenges has been an important factor in her success.

“My success may be a culmination of what I try to do: work to achieve excellence in serving clients and the community. Helping clients, policy makers, and other lawyers adapt to the constant changes in technology and law is what remains most challenging and rewarding for me,” says Towle. “Innovation tends to focus on unlimited boundaries, while an increasingly strong regulatory regime imposes limits, and this intersection can either block traffic or facilitate new opportunities.”

For her part in this, beyond her practice, Towle is co-author of the major treatise, The Law of Electronic Commercial Transactions, and chairs the “Law of Commerce in Cyberspace” subcommittee for the Business Section of the Washington Bar. As chair, Towle has led committee members in commenting on and communicating concerns about cyberspace legislation to state policymakers. “We’ve taken some very unpopular stands,” she says, “but I think our committee has helped commercial and consumer law in Washington.”

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