Hearings

Who are WCB's ALJ-mediators?

*Locations indicated are the administrative law judges' home offices. However, ALJs may travel on occasion to mediate cases. 

WCB's mediators have provided the following information about themselves to help mediation participants choose a local mediator that is a good fit for their case. Mediation participants may also contact WCB's Mediation Coordinator, Kerry Garrett, for more information.​

Judge Bethlahmy began her legal career in 1978 when she became a member of the Idaho State Bar. In 1985, she joined the Oregon State Bar and worked in private practice. Her background includes ALJ experience hearing a variety, including education, probation revocation, welfare, workers' compensation, OSHA and employment cases, tax, and child support cases. In 1990, she accepted an ALJ position with the Workers' Compensation Board and, in 1991, completed mediation training with the Multnomah County Courts/State Judicial Institute Mediator Training Program. Since 1995, Judge Bethlahmy has mediated all types of cases -- workers' compensation, employment, OSHA, noncomplying employer, and general tort cases -- at all levels from the Hearings Division to the Court of Appeals. She believes her role as a mediator is to assist the parties in whatever capacity they desire, whether it involves client control issues, legal analysis and factual disputes, a facilitative or evaluative approach, or a combination of the styles. She believes that a thorough knowledge of the file and a frank discussion with counsel before the mediation is important. Judge Bethlahmy's commitment toward resolution of all issues may involve working with the parties beyond the actual day of mediation.​​​​
Judge Bloom is available to help attorneys and their clients mediate WCB disputes, not-yet-but-looming disputes, and workers' compensation-related mandatory Oregon Court of Appeals and Supreme Court mediations. Judge Bloom has earned a reputation as an effective, no-nonsense, and efficient mediator. He has genuine understanding and empathy for all parties in the process, having worked at SAIF, for claimants, and having been a business owner. To round out his bona fides, he has a good grasp of the law per se, as in his career he represented his own clients, and others as an Amicus lawyer before the Oregon Court of Appeals and Supreme Court, and taught at many seminars and CLE courses. He was honored by the workers' compensation section of the Oregon State Bar with the 2008 Douglas Daughtry Award of Merit. If there is a tough case that needs help to settle, and the parties believe a mediation's result is more important than the process, the parties may find Judge Bloom's efforts most pleasing.​​​​
Judge Fisher was in private practice from June 1982 to May 2000, handling a wide variety of tort and workers' compensation cases almost exclusively from the plaintiff's/claimant's side. During that time, Judge Fisher did, on a few occasions, help a noncomplying employer settle their workers' compensation and third-party liability issues. Judge Fisher did not handle employment or labor law cases. From May 2000 to June 2003, Judge Fisher was a Board Review staff attorney. He became an administrative law judge in June 2003.​​​​
Before her appointment as an ALJ, Judge Jacobson focused her practice primarily on workers' compensation law, and had the opportunity to represent both injured workers and insurers/employers. She is committed to facilitating productive and resolution-oriented discussion for everyone involved. Her down-to-earth approach and strong listening skills encourage open communication with a focus on the value and risks for each party. Judge Jacobson is a graduate of Reed College and Northwestern School of Law of Lewis & Clark College, and an active member of the Oregon State Bar.​​​​
Judge McWilliams mediates disputes involving workers' compensation and OSHA, as well as state and federal civil litigation. Judge McWilliams received her undergraduate and law degrees from the University of Oregon in 1974 and 1977. She has been a member of the State Bar of California since 1977 and the Oregon State Bar since 1978. Before joining the Workers' Compensation Board in 1987, Judge McWilliams served as an assistant district attorney and trial attorney representing plaintiffs and defendants in civil litigation with an emphasis on insurance defense, including employment disputes. She has been an adjunct instructor in Trial Practice and guest lecturer in ADR at the University of Oregon School of Law. She is a past chair of the OSB Workers' Compensation Section, OSB ADR Section Executive Committee, past president of the Association of Oregon Workers' Compensation Judges, and former member of the Association for Conflict Resolution (formerly SPIDR) and the Oregon Mediation Association. Judge McWilliams is a 2001 recipient of the Oregon State Bar President's Membership Service Award and the 2003 Douglas W. Daughtry Award. She is the author of Employer Incentives and Special Funds, (2000 Supp and 2009).​​​​
Judge Naugle has been an administrative law judge since 2001 and mediated more than 60 cases for state boards and agencies. He is available for mediating any case type.​​​​
Judge Ogawa has been a member of the Oregon State Bar since 1987. She became an administrative law judge in August 2005. Her prior workers' compensation experience includes private practice representing insurers and employers at the hearing and appellate levels, as a Board Review staff attorney, and as legal issues coordinator for the Workers' Compensation Division. Judge Ogawa typically uses a combination of facilitative and evaluative approaches to mediation.​​​​
Judge Riechers has been an administrative law judge since October 2002. Before that, she represented Liberty Northwest Insurance Corporation and employers for 15 years in mostly Oregon workers' compensation cases, with some U.S. longshore and harbor workers' compensation cases. For two years before that, she represented claimants in workers' compensation and Social Security cases. Judge Riechers graduated from University of Oregon School of Law.​​​​
Judge Smith was awarded his mediation certificate from the Institute for Conflict Management in Santa Monica, Calif., in January 2008. With more than three decades of experience in the private practice of law, Judge Smith is able to make creative use of both facilitative and evaluative strategies to help parties resolve their legal conflicts. He has been a member of the Oregon State Bar since graduating from Willamette University School of Law in 1972, and was appointed as an ALJ in 2008. Judge Smith has extensive experience representing injured parties in workers' compensation, medical malpractice, product liability, and employment matters. He also has approximately 15 years' experience as a court-annexed arbitrator in Jackson County Circuit Court. Judge Smith is fluent in Spanish, and has represented hundreds of Spanish-speaking clients in a wide variety of matters. He invites inquiries from attorneys with Spanish-speaking clients.​​​​
Judge Spangler is a highly qualified and experienced board-certified mediator. He mediates all types of cases, as well as those pending appeal. He is a 1986 graduate of Willamette University College of Law and has been an administrative law judge for the Workers' Compensation Board since 1990. He is also a former certified flight instructor and brings a breadth of real-life experience, compassion, and objective legal analysis to each mediation. Accordingly, Judge Spangler maintains an extremely high settlement rate. He is known for his "straight talk" and listening skills. Judge Spangler tailors his mediation style (i.e., facilitative or active) to fit the particular needs of the parties. Although Judge Spangler continues to hold hearings and write Opinion and Orders, he makes himself available for nearly all mediation requests, even those requested on short notice.​​​​
Judge Wren graduated from William and Mary Law School in 1985. Before becoming an administrative law judge, Judge Wren worked in trial practice in Virginia and Oregon. His practice, particularly in the 10years before he became an ALJ, included substantial emphasis on employment law, including cases involving claims for injured worker discrimination, disability discrimination, wage claims, and family medical leave. Judge Wren generally takes a facilitative approach to mediation, but can be more directive if that is the parties' preference. In every mediation, he asks that the parties prepare comprehensive mediation statements, as he finds that these statements aid the parties as much as they do himself.​​​​
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​C​ontact:

​​​Mediations
Mediation Program Coordinator
and Administrative Assistant to the
Presiding ALJ​
Workers' Compensation Board
503-934-0104​

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