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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 Anderson, 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 Cordes graduated with honors from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2013. Prior to moving to the Pacific Northwest for law school, he studied music, business administration, and political science at the University of Northern Iowa. Judge Cordes held a variety of jobs in the manufacturing and service industries prior to attending college that give him insight into the workplace environment. While still in law school, Judge Cordes began clerking for a law firm specializing in workers' compensation and social security disability issues, and continued as an associate attorney after passing the bar in 2013 until he was appointed to the bench in 2022. Judge Cordes believes the mediation process is a crucial component of the workers' compensation system, and approaches alternative dispute resolution with empathy, honesty, and a desire to help create an environment where parties are empowered to make informed, well-reasoned decisions to achieve dispute resolution.​​

Halah Ilias is an Administrative Law Judge with the Workers' Compensation Board. She obtained an economics degree from Lewis & Clark College in 2011 and a law degree from Lewis & Clark Law School in 2014. Prior to joining WCB in 2018, she worked as a trial attorney for SAIF Corporation.​​

​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 Naugle has been mediating cases since 2001. He is available for any case type and provides a process-oriented approach designed to achieve case resolution.​

​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 Riechers has served as a mediator with the Workers’ Compensation Board for about ten years, and during that time has mediated cases at both hearings and appellate levels.​

​Judge Smith has been a member of the Oregon State Bar since graduating from Willamette University School of Law in 1972. He was awarded his mediation certificate from the Institute for Conflict Management in Santa Monica, California in January 2008, and was appointed as an ALJ later that year. With over three decades of experience representing clients in workers' compensation, product liability, medical malpractice, and employment matters, Judge Smith is able to make creative use of both facilitative and evaluative strategies. He is the author of "Workers’ Compensation," Chapter 30 of ADR in Oregon (OSB Legal Publications, 2019); "History of Oregon's Workers' Compensation Law," Chapter 1 of Workers' Compensation in Oregon (OSB Legal Publications, 2023); and "Mediation," Chapter 30 of Workers' Compensation in Oregon (OSB Legal Publications, 2023). Fluent in Spanish, he invites inquiries from attorneys with Spanish-speaking clients.​

​Judge Somers' experience in workers' compensation spans over 30 years. She began as a receptionist at an insurance company, advancing to claims assistant and then claims examiner before entering law school at Northwestern School of Law at Lewis and Clark College. Following law school, she practiced as a trial lawyer, handling workers' compensation cases on behalf of injured workers, employment disputes, and tort claims.  In 2003, she was appointed as an Administrative Law Judge of the Workers' Compensation Board, where she happily presided over hearings and mediations until 2007, when she accepted the position of Presiding Administrative Law Judge. In 2013, she was appointed to serve a four-year term as Board Chair by Governor Kitzhaber. In 2017, she returned to her position as Administrative Law Judge in the hearings division, which she considers "home." Her mediation style involves both facilitative and evaluative approaches, where she can connect with litigants in a more informal setting.​

​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. Judge Spangler makes himself available for nearly all mediation requests, even those requested on short notice.​

​​Judge Geoffrey Wren graduated from William and Mary Law School in 1985. He mediates workers' compensation disputes, OR-OSHA disputes, and employment law and personal injury matters related to workers' compensation disputes. Before becoming an administrative law judge, Judge Wren worked in trial practice in Virginia and Oregon. His practice, particularly in the 10 years before he became an ALJ, included substantial emphasis on employment law. Judge Wren generally takes a directive approach to mediation, but he takes a facilitative approach if the parties prefer. In every mediation, he asks that the parties prepare mediation statements, as he finds the statements invaluable in getting the parties to reach agreement on settlement. ​


Mediation Program Coordinator
and Administrative Assistant to
the Presiding ALJ
Workers' Compensation Board

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