By Margot Griffiths
Point Roberts resident Mark Stowe is an attorney with a wide-ranging practice. While he has clients in Seattle, Bellingham, Point Roberts and Canada, Mark says his real desire is to be a “small town lawyer with an open-door policy.”
He believes that with its focus on a corporate style and billable hours, law has lost its connection with people. Here is an accomplished lawyer who will meet with you in in your own home. No, really. Of course, he’ll also meet with you in Seattle or Bellingham, but who among us wants one more drive down I-5?
Mark was born in Long Island, New York and lived there until he was 13. That’s a long way, physically and culturally, from our small community, and yet he says his “New York mentality ties into life in Point Roberts.” He grew up in a neighborhood where people’s doors were open to each other. “There was respect for differences and parents looked out for other people’s kids.”
When he moved to Point Roberts in 2003, this was the mentality he was looking for. And it was when his children, Elliot and Celise, began school and Mark became part of a cadre of parents, that he came to fully appreciate Point Roberts – a place where people look out for each other. “In the place you live, you’ve got to contribute.”
How did a boy from the east coast end up here? It was his aunt in Seattle who introduced his family to the beauty and relative quiet of the west coast. They moved to Marysville at a time when the town was so small, he bused to high school in Bothell, just as his children would later bus to Blaine. He went to the University of Washington for an undergraduate degree in philosophy “because I love to debate” and this led to a law degree from Gonzaga.
At 18, Mark bought his first piece of property; a decision plagued with problems. Land use and septic issues were just the tip of the iceberg. This experience led him to specialize in real estate law, with an eye to looking out for consumer protection. In 1987, he opened a solo practice – “career suicide,” said his peers – in Woodinville. He thrived.
In 2000, he moved his practice to Blaine, in order to further another career interest: Being a hockey agent for the National Hockey League Players Association, a certification he still holds today. Representing players from the U.S. and Canada, Mark knew Blaine was a strategic place to be. And while the population of Woodinville grew, Blaine still held that small town appeal. But not for long. Only a few years later, Mark moved to the smallest town of all – Point Roberts. And here he has stayed.
Mark frames his practice in real estate law as a “property tree,” with branches in real estate, estate planning, tax compliance and property disputes. His Point Roberts clients are primarily Canadians who own real estate here. “As soon as a Canadian signs on to property in the U.S., they are in the tax system.”
Canadians and Americans alike can benefit from Mark’s experience with code violations, zoning disputes and property disputes. “Point Roberts has a very interesting history with regard to property,” Mark says. “Old families with acreages granted by the government often developed their land themselves.” That often leads to zoning or septic issues, or property line disputes. And owning property, or anything else, ultimately leads to the need for estate planning and wills. Mark has the expertise. And the best part – he’s our neighbor.
And what’s the best part for him? “The freedom to walk the dog – on leash! To ride my mountain bike, to have friends over for a social. To be a part of a small, close community.”
One of the central focuses of Mark’s life is raising his 14-year-old daughter, Celise, who also enjoys the Point, and is active in sports at Blaine High School. His son, Elliot, 19, is exploring life in Australia.
There’s breadth to Mark Stowe. He’s not your typical lawyer. Out of the blocks, he’s warm and accessible. In his own words, “I’m a little bit out of the box.” He’s found himself the perfect home in Point Roberts. (stowelawpllc.com)