John Ray Nelson

John Ray Nelson

Working as a trial lawyer from Spokane, Washington, John Ray Nelson has represented clients in state and federal courts in Washington, Idaho, Oregon and Utah, as lead counsel in litigation, including intellectual property, contract, real estate, employment defense, environmental and trespass and nuisance. 

John has represented clients in a wide variety of cases, including:

  • Intellectual Property Litigation, including defense and prosecution of patent, trademark and copyright infringement claims
  • Contract Litigation, including commercial sales, construction, professional malpractice and partnership dissolution disputes
  • Real Estate Litigation, including sales contract, misrepresentation/ failure to disclose, boundary, easement and water rights disputes
  • Employment Defense Litigation, including discrimination, retaliation, wrongful discharge and competition disputes
  • Environmental Litigation, including defense of Clean Water Act and Clean Air Act citizen suits and conjoined toxic tort claims
  • Trespass and Nuisance Litigation, including claims of surface and groundwater contamination, insurance recovery and cleanup allocation

John has been admitted to practice in Washington, Utah and Idaho. He has also served as a federal law clerk for the Eastern District of Washington, and as Chair of the Washington State Bar Association's Litigation Section. Click on the links to the right for further information about individual topics. 

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Federal Bar Association, Eastern District of Washington

  • President, 2010
  • Board of Directors, 2005-2012

Lawyer Representative to the Ninth Circuit Judicial Conference, 2005-2008

Washington State Bar Association

Utah State Bar Association

American Bar Association

Executive Committee of the WSBA Litigation Section, 1997-2004

  • Chair of the Committee, 2002-2003

Washington Trial and Evidence Manual

  • Editor in Chief, 2004
  • Editorial Board, 1997

Washington Civil Procedure Deskbook, Editorial Board, 2012, 2004, 1998, 1995

National Ski Patrol, 1991-Present

Friends of Mt. Spokane State Park

  • Board of Directors, Ski Patrol
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Jurisdiction, Venue, Removal and Remand in Federal Court

Author, Eastern District of Washington Annual Meeting, September 2012

Non-Compete, Confidentiality and Solicitation Materials, and Terminating the Employment Relationship

Author and speaker at related CLE Hiring and Firing in Washington, September 2003

Personal Liability for Directors and Managers and Litigation of FLSA Claims

Author, Washington Wage and Hour Update, September 2003

Employment: Creation and Use of An Employment Manual; Agreements and Their Enforceability; and Harassment Suits

Author, Washington State Bar Association CLE Essentials of Advising the Small Business, August 1997

Employee Handbooks, Hiring, Firing & Employee Contracts

Co-author / Speaker: Appropriate Termination Practices at Washington State Bar Association CLE, April 1997

Basic Wage & Hour Law in Washington

Author / Speaker: Ethical Considerations and Litigation of Wage and Hour Claims, National Business Institute CLE, April 1997

Pleadings and Motion Practice

Author/Speaker at a CLE offered in conjunction with the WSBA Litigation Section's publication of the Washington Civil Procedure Deskbook in 1995

ER 702 and Expert Opinion Testimony

Author/Speaker at CLE offered in conjunction with publication of the WSBA Litigation Section's Trial Manual, 1994

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The Employment Relationship: Employment at Will, Benefits and More

Speaker, National Business Institute, December 2018

Top Trial Strategies the Pros Use to Win Their Case – Opening Statements and Direct Examinations

Speaker, National Business Institute, October 2018

An Overview of Strategic and Legal Considerations in Voir Dire

Speaker, 11th Annual Federal Civil Trial Practice Seminar, May 2017

The Rules of Evidence: A Practical Tool Kit

Speaker, National Business Institute CLE, September 2015

Advanced Trial Tactics: Sophisticated Courtroom Strategies for Experienced and Aspiring Trial Attorneys

Speaker, November 2014

  • "Cross-Examination and Redirect - Focus on Experts and Evidence"
  • "Effective Exhibits and Courtroom Technology"
  • "Summations and Jury Instructions Roundtable Discussion" 

10th Annual Hiring & Terminating: The Ins and Outs of Employment Law Seminar

Speaker, September 2014

  • Overview of Confidentiality, Non-Compete, and Non-Solicitation Agreements
  • The In-Between: Keeping Good Records

Jurisdiction, Venue, Removal and Remand in Federal Court

Speaker, Eastern District of Washington Annual Meeting, September 2012

5th Annual Federal Civil Trial Practice Seminar

Speaker, Effective Use of Summary Judgment Motions in Federal Court, May 2011

The Mechanics of Washington Civil Procedure

Speaker, Commencing the Action, Responsive Pleadings - What to Use, When and How, and Non-Complaint Claims and Third Party Practice, December 2010

Zen and the Art of Post-Employment Agreements

Speaker, Non-Competes in a Down Economy: Protecting Your Company's Trade Secrets From Disclosure by Former Employees, June 2009

FLSA/Wage and Hour in Today’s Economy

Speaker, Fundamentals of Employment Law, November 2009

Anatomy Of An Employment Case

Speaker, Northwest Association of Human Resource Professionals, June 2007

Legal Ethics Issues in Employment Cases

Speaker, Spokane County Bar Association's CLE, Hot Topics in Employment Law, March 2007

Can You Hear Me Now?!? What Mediators, Arbitrators and Litigators Really Want to Say to Each Other

Panelist, WSBA Sections on Litigation and Alternative Dispute Resolution, September 2006

Depositions in a Commercial Case - Defense Perspective

Speaker, WSBA Litigation Section CLE, Elements of Litigation: Advanced Strategies, Techniques and Demonstrations from Both Sides of the Bar, June 2006

Documenting Discipline and Discharge from a Trial Lawyer's Perspective

Speaker, Lorman Education Services, May 2006

Trial Themes

Speaker, Spokane County Bar Assoc. CLE: Trial Techniques for Every Attorney, January 2006

Sex & Other Discrimination Claims

Speaker, Laws Against Discrimination in Rental Properties, Olympic Rental Association, Spokane Chapter, September 2005

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Litigation & Dispute ResolutionAntitrust & Consumer ProtectionEmployment & LaborEnvironmental & Natural ResourcesEnvironmental LitigationIntellectual PropertyIntellectual Property LitigationLand Use, Planning & ZoningRetail & Consumer ProductsWater Quality


Tel: 509.777.1604Fax: 509.777.1616


The Best Lawyers in America©

  • Commercial Litigation, 2013-present
  • Litigation - Environmental, 2019-present
  • Litigation - Labor and Employment, 2019-present
  • Best Lawyers Litigation - Labor and Employment "Lawyer of the Year" in Spokane, 2020

Spokane Top Lawyers, Spokane/Coeur d'Alene Living magazine, 2008-Present


J.D., University of Utah S.J. Quinney College of Law, 1986

M.A., University of Washington, 1983

B.S., Utah State University (cum laude), 1981

Bar Admissions

Washington (all state and federal courts)

Utah (all state and federal courts)

Idaho (all state and federal courts)

U.S. Court of Appeals

  • 4th Circuit
  • 9th Circuit
  • 10th Circuit



Foster Pepper PLLC

  • Member, 2005-Present
  • Managing Partner, Spokane Office
  • Executive Committee Member, 2007-Present

Preston Gates & Ellis LLP (now K&L Gates LLP)

  • Partner, 1996-2005
  • Associate, 1991-1996
  • Spokane Office Managing Partner, 2003-2004
  • Spokane Litigation Group Chair, 1996-2004

U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington, the Hon. Alan A. McDonald and the Hon. Justin L. Quackenbush, Law Clerk

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