For more than 30 years, Karl Oles has helped owners, architects, engineers, and contractors solve complex legal problems through negotiation, mediation, arbitration, and trial. Karl has also drafted, negotiated, and analyzed multimillion-dollar design and construction contracts on a wide variety of construction projects. He serves as an arbitrator on the American Arbitration Association’s construction panel. He is co-author of the current standard treatise on Washington lien law.


University of Washington School of Law, J.D., 1986

University of California at Los Angeles, M.A., 1982

University of London, M.A., 1978

Pomona College, B.A., 1977, magna cum laude



United States District Courts for the Eastern and Western Districts of Washington

United States Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit


  • WSDOT v. STP. Representation of WSDOT in a nine-week jury trial. Obtained verdict of $57.2 million for WSDOT and defeated contractor’s claim for $337 million.


Insights & Presentations

  • “Trying Large Construction Disputes,” Washington Construction Law, The Seminar Group, October 2023
  • “A New Year’s Resolution: More Consideration of Time Limits,” Daily Journal of Commerce, January 2023
  • “Washington Supreme Court Ruling Could Bring Changes to the Construction Industry” (co-author), Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, November 2022
  • “Every Construction Project Comes With Risk, but It Can Be Managed,” Daily Journal of Commerce, January 2022
  • “Benefits and Risks of Involving a Project’s Contractor in The Design,” Daily Journal of Commerce, March 2021
  • “Differing Site Conditions An Issue in the Seattle SR 99 Tunnel Litigation,” Daily Journal of Commerce, March 2020
  • “Using Multiple Prime Contractors on Your Job? Pay Careful Attention to Licensing Requirements” (co-author), Seattle Daily Journal of Commerce, February 2020
  • “Industry Perspectives Op-Ed: An Owner’s Guide to Accessibility Claims in Washington” (co-author), Journal of Commerce (Canada), February 2020
  • “Protecting Against Risk—Retainage and Bonds (see SHB 1575) (2015),” Bidding Public Works & Construction Contracts, The Seminar Group, June 2019
  • Panel Member, DRBF NW Chapter meeting, June 2019
  • “How Should I Work with Lawyers on My Project?” Daily Journal of Commerce, March 2019
  • The Construction Lien in Washington: A Legal Analysis for the Construction Industry” (co-author), Stoel Rives LLP, 2015 Edition (Updated 2019)
  • “Managing Risk from Gaps in Your Project,” Daily Journal of Commerce, September 2018
  • “Remember the Statute of Limitations,” Daily Journal of Commerce, March 2018
  • “‘Lien on Me’: Washington Construction Lien Statutes Applied to Four Scenarios,” WSBA Construction Section Annual Seminar—Washington Statutes Affecting Construction, Seattle, WA, June 2017
  • Panelist, “Setting the Stage: Preparing for the Preliminary Hearing in Arbitration,” 23rd Annual Northwest Dispute Resolution Conference, Seattle, WA, March 2017
  • “Expect the Best, Prepare for the Worst - Drafting Construction or Design Contracts,” Daily Journal of Commerce, March 2016
  • “Washington Construction Liens: Key Considerations for Owners,” Washington State Bar Association Annual Spring Update, Seattle, WA, 2015
  • “An Introduction to Design-Build for Public Project Delivery,” Daily Journal of Commerce, May 2015
  • “Avoiding Litigation,” Stoel Rives Straight Talk Seminar, 2014
  • “Lien Rights of Architects and Engineers,” Daily Journal of Commerce, May 2014


  • Selected as one of “America’s Leading Lawyers for Business” (Washington) by Chambers USA (Construction), 2019–present
  • Named by Best Lawyers® as Litigation—Construction “Lawyer of the Year,” Seattle, 2023
  • Included in The Best Lawyers in America® (Litigation—Construction), 2013–present
  • Listed in Washington Super Lawyers® (Construction Litigation, Business Litigation), 2001–2007, 2016–2023
  • Member of practice group nationally ranked in Best Law Firms®, 2010–2024
  • Named a Real Estate/Construction Law Trailblazer, National Law Journal, 2021



  • Completed DRBF basic training, 2018
  • Completed three-day certification workshop for DBIA, 2017
  • Stoel Rives’ Pro Bono Committee, former Member
  • Washington State Bar Association, Construction Section, former Chair


  • Occasional lecturer at University of Washington in Construction Law
  • Member, Board of Trustees; and teacher, Scholars Online
  • Senior Warden, St. Barnabas Anglican Church


Jump to Page