A professional pioneer, Patricia J. Chvatal made history as the first woman to practice law in her community. She decided to use her expertise to get involved with local organizations dealing with women’s issues, earning her a spot on the board of directors of the first shelter in the community, and naturally progressed to family law. Ms. Chvatal loves the niche because it deals with what she deems the most important thing in life, family. Over the years, she has handled subjects like child custody, litigation, and complex property issues.
Ms. Chvatal prepared for her endeavors by earning a JD, cum laude, from Gonzaga University in 1976 and a Bachelor of Arts, magna cum laude, from Carroll College in 1972. She became admitted to the practice in Washington in 1976, at which point she obtained her first hands-on position: associate of Bennett and Carroll. The firm transitioned to become Bennett, Carroll and Chvatal upon her promotion to junior partner two years later, and to become Carroll and Chvatal when she made partner in 1979. Ms. Chvatal then garnered experience as a partner of Carroll, Chvatal and Heye and of Heye and Chvatal, and as a lecturer at law seminars in the state of Washington. She currently uses her background as the owner of Chvatal Law Firm, where she’s been since 1990.
Outside of her career, Ms. Chvatal is very active in her community. She is currently on the board of directors for Tri-Cities Prep High School and the board of trustees at Carroll College, which has been a tremendous experience for her. She finds having the opportunity to bring her expertise into forums, board rooms, and agenda discussions to be truly exciting, as it introduces her to ideas she’s never thought of before. Prior to this, Ms. Chvatal was the first woman president of the Benton Franklin Counties Bar Association, the president of the Richland chapter of the Business and Professional Women Club, the school commissioner for Christ the King School, a board member of the Northwest Women’s Law Center, and a board member of United Way. She has also been a member of the League of Women Voters, the American Association of University Women, the Washington Women’s Political Caucus, Washington Women United, the Washington State Bar Association, the Richland City Council Planning Commission, and the Altrusa Club. Keeping in touch with her roots, she maintains affiliation with the Walla Walla County Cattlemen’s Association and the Washington Cattlemen’s Association.
Ms. Chvatal’s hard work and dedication have not gone unnoticed. She was honored with the Albert J. Yencopal Award for Community Service from the Benton Franklin Legal Aid Society, and with inclusion in Who’s Who in the World and Who’s Who of American Women. The highlight of her life, however, was adopting two girls from Romania.