James Stensel



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Interesting notes about James:
Proudest accomplishment: Juris Doctorate
Favorite weekend activity: Roadtrips
Can't live without: Laughter
Publications & Presentations

About James Stensel

James Stensel began his career in family law almost two decades ago, when he worked as a paralegal for some of Seattle’s most respected family law attorneys. After years of working closely with clients, he decided that he could best use his talents as a family law attorney and enrolled in law school, all while working full time as a legal intern with McKinley Irvin.

As a family law attorney honed by this experience, James’ strategy in every case is to begin by working to resolve disputes and not create them. But, if the situation calls for it, he loves nothing more than going to bat for his clients.

"The best approach to family law is to always wear the white hat,” says James. “A good attorney knows which battles are worth fighting and that sometimes, reasonable minds can avoid the battlefield all together. But I understand what is at stake and I am a powerful advocate. Their battles are my battles and I am deeply vested in getting the best possible result."

In family law, James and his clients often deal with sensitive and sometimes challenging issues, so he makes sure his clients always have a solid grasp of their case and what they can expect.

"I am a listener first, then an advocate,” says James. “Being an active listener allows me to understand their real concerns and needs so I can focus on protecting what they consider most important."

James is experienced in divorce cases that involve high net worth, complex finances, and jurisdictional issues. He believes the decisions made in a case will affect a client’s post-divorce financial health for many years thereafter and that specific skills are required when dealing with significant assets and business interests.

He also has a reputation for being almost supernaturally organized. His clients love that he is on top of every detail that is going on with their case, making him very efficient and effective.

James lives in Seattle and enjoys traveling, snowboarding, hiking, and cooking. He’s also a regular at Seahawks, Mariners and Sounders games, and previously enjoyed a moment of fame when one of his Seahawks tailgate parties was featured on the Food Network. He’s also taken a flight lesson at Boeing field and hopes to get his pilot’s license someday.

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  • Washington State Bar Association, Family Law Section
  • King County Bar Association, Family Law Section
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J.D., Seattle University School of Law

  • Cali Award for Trial Advocacy
  • Cheney/Metzger Writing Competition Scholarship Nominee

B.A., Prelaw and Philosophy, Pacific Lutheran University

Advanced Paralegal Certificate, Edmonds Community College

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Publications & Presentations


  • Best Law Firms
  • Best Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers
  • AV Preeminent
  • Avvo Rating 10.0
  • American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers
"Thanks for all the work for our family over the past year. We’re really glad you are on our side."
"David remained very level headed and family focused throughout our proceedings. That said, I always felt my specific needs were very well ..."
"Without David and Sam, there is no way I could have made it through this exceptionally difficult time in my life. I cannot imagine two ..."
"My daughter is the sunshine of my life. I felt despair and a sense of helplessness on the day I was served. On the first appointment day ..."
"In our search for a reputable law firm to handle my sister’s divorce case, we explored our options until we found the McKinley Irvin law ..."
"My attorney was very good in and out of the courtroom. Always kept me up to date on any issues that came up and was very knowledgeable on ..."
"I would like to give my sincere appreciation to Jennifer Payseno and staff. You all stood by me no matter how trying my case got. I always ..."
"Dave, thank you very much for doing such a wonderful job. It has been a pleasure working with you."
"From start to finish, the team at McKinley Irvin took care of me and my family. I couldn’t ask for more. What happened in court was exactly ..."
"I have dealt with approximately 4 lawyers in the past from other law firms. Laura from McKinley Irvin, however, handled my case with ..."
"I can’t tell you how much I appreciate your help with my case. I know the call I got from your office was an answer to my tearful and ..."
"I am so very thankful that I chose to work with McKinley Irvin and the wonderful staff they have in place. Highly recommended!"
"A huge weight and amount of stress was lifted as soon as I hired Jamie Walker. Having her on my team was exactly the peace of mind I needed ..."
"Getting a divorce was hard enough as it is. I was nervous and just wanted to get it over with before my ex-wife thought of anything else she ..."
"[My attorney] spoke English – as oppposed to ‘legalese’. She was able to propose a number of options and alternatives for various scenarios, ..."
"Marc provided steady counsel and support through the emotional times. He kept us focused and moving forward during the meetings."
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