|Oregon State Bar Bulletin FEBRUARY/MARCH 2008|
At one time or another, most avid golfers have daydreamed of teeing it up alongside the pros in a national tournament.
Last summer, Lake Oswego’s Mickey Morey actually did it. The plaintiffs’ trial lawyer qualified for and played in the nation’s most prestigious event for golfers who are 50 or over: the U.S. Senior Open. "It was a dream come true," he says.
A weekend golfer most of his life, Morey had reassessed things when he turned 50 in 2001. He was in good shape and figured he could compete with others his age and older.
"I really started working on my game," he says. He took lessons and practiced diligently. He then began playing competitively. Three years later, he was a medalist at the Oregon Senior Amateur, ranked third in the senior division and made the Hudson Cup team, comprised of the best amateur and professional golfers in the state.
Last summer, Morey tied for first with a Canadian pro in a U.S. Senior Open qualifying tourney at Waverly Country Club, beating out 56 other players for a spot in the Open.
"His golf game got significantly better in the last few years," observes Clackamas County Circuit Court Judge Jeffrey S. Jones, a friend of Morey’s since both worked together in the early 1980s in the Multnomah County district attorney’s office. "He went from being a very good amateur to one of the best amateurs in the state."
Finding a Legal Niche
Morey was born in Oak Park, Ill., but from babyhood grew up in Santa Monica, Calif. He played tennis and golf in high school, and went on to play on the golf team at Pacific University in Forest Grove after his younger brother and a friend moved to Oregon and encouraged him to follow.
A business major at Pacific, Morey was influenced to go to law school by another brother who was a lawyer in Tucson, Ariz., and from taking a college class led by a practicing attorney. At Lewis & Clark Law School, he did well in moot court, and decided to become a trial lawyer. After passing the bar, he joined the Multnomah County district attorney’s office, where he worked in the assaults unit, specializing in prosecuting rape and child sex-abuse cases.
After spending three years with the county, he joined the law firm Holmes, DeFrancq & Schulte. In 1984, Morey became one of the first lawyers in Oregon to pursue compensation for abuse survivors, representing a young woman who had been sexually abused by her stepfather since childhood. The case, tried in Benton County, received a $500,000 verdict, a substantial sum at the time, and became a milestone in Morey’s career.
"That was one of the things that put me on the map as a lawyer doing these kind of cases," he says. By 1989, Morey had enough work to open his own firm. Since then, he has represented victims of sexual abuse in Oregon and other Western states, and participated in over 100 jury trials. Rated AV by Martindale-Hubbell, he has co-authored a handbook, spoken before victims’ advocacy groups, and written several articles on sexual abuse litigation.
Morey took his first case against the Archdiocese of Portland in 1993, and has represented many men who were sexually abused by Roman Catholic priests. He also has advocated for clients against the Episcopal Church, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Salvation Army, the Seventh-Day Adventist Church, the United Methodist Church and Jehovah’s Witnesses. In addition, he handled cases for clients abused by physicians, psychologists, police officers, prison guards and schoolteachers.
"The work was very emotional, very personal," he admits. "People will say lawyers should not get personal (with their clients), but you can’t do the kind of cases I took and avoid that. Sometimes it was hard on me. I do think I had a good ability to leave my work at the office."
Some of his clients have become friends of his family, and even though he no longer is taking new cases, he still fields calls from former clients when they are seeking help for legal matters, and refers them to other attorneys.
"I feel like I had as rewarding a career as a lawyer can have," he says. "I feel really fortunate that I was able to do those things for those people, and I was good at it. I’m one of those people who love people, love life, really enjoy what I do."
Morey’s personality is effusive, positive and upbeat, confirms Jones. "He’s very enthusiastic. People like to be around him. He’s just one of those people that never seems to be down."
Hitting the Links
Golf began to take on more importance for Morey in the past six years or so. He and his wife, Leslie J. Mackenzie, a lawyer with Reinisch, Mackenzie, Healey, Wilson & Clark, aimed for 2007 as the year they would retire, after their two children were grown. She retired last June, and Morey is winding down his law practice. He wants to do volunteer work, learn to speak Spanish fluently, and learn guitar and the piano.
And he is competing in as many Oregon Golf Association events as he’s eligible for. He has won three club championships at Oswego Lake golf course, and will play in England this summer in the British Senior Amateur.
But playing in the 2007 Senior Open, held at the Whistling Straits course in Kohler, Wis., always will be a highlight of his life. Morey perhaps felt a little like Walter Mitty, striding up the fairway with green-shirted "Team Morey" compatriots from home cheering him on. He signed autographs for kids, rubbed shoulders with several tour stars, and scored some birdies and even an eagle in his practice rounds.
Once the tournament proper started, Morey was nervous and didn’t make the cut to play on the weekend, but had great fun all week anyway. "I wish I’d played better and made the cut, but it was such an amazing experience."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Cliff Collins is a Portland-area freelance writer and a frequent contributor to the Bulletin.
© 2008 Cliff Collins