Rita L. Bender retired from practice on December 31, 2023, after 55 years of distinguished service. During her legal career, Rita was admitted to practice in the federal and state courts in Washington, as well as the United States Supreme Court and the United States Courts of Appeals for the Ninth and Third Circuits.

Rita’s practice focused on family law, adoption and assisted reproduction, and ethics and professional discipline for attorneys and mental health professionals. In the earlier years of her legal career, she served as a public defender in Seattle, WA and Newark, NJ.

Rita taught as a lecturer at Rutgers School of Law, and was on the adjunct faculty of the University Of Washington School of Law. She was a visiting professor at the University Of Mississippi School of Law for the 2009-2010 academic year, and an adjunct professor at Seattle University School of Law in 2014.

Rita has lectured to groups of legal, medical, and mental health professionals on numerous topics including ethical issues of forensic practice; adoption and assisted reproductive technology; same sex adoption; complex family law issues; and prenuptial and cohabitation agreements.

Rita’s past community and professional activities include her appointment by the Supreme Court of Washington to the Practice of Law Board; designation by the Washington Commission on Judicial Conduct to represent the Commission in the prosecution of judicial conduct complaints; service on the American Bar Association Commission on Homelessness; and service as President of the Board of Trustees of the Legal Foundation of Washington. She is a former member of the Washington Supreme Court Gender and Justice Commission and fellow of the American Academy of Adoption and Assisted Reproductive Technology Attorneys.

B.A., English, Queens College of the City University of New York, 1964. 

J.D., Rutgers University School of Law, 1968. 

Recognized as a Washington State “Super Lawyer” in 1999 – 2023.

Numerous presentations on subjects of civil rights and educational denial at Universities and Law Schools in the United States. Invited participant and presenter at the NIOD Conference at the University of Amsterdam (December 2016).

Racial Disparity in Education and State Action, William Winter Institute for Racial Reconciliation, University of Mississippi (March 2009).

CLE Author and Presenter, On Being a Lawyer, Washington State Bar Association (December 2008).

Searching for Restorative Justice: The Trial of Edgar Ray Killen, Combined Symposium, Northeastern University & Harvard Law School (April 2007).

CLE Author and Presenter, ARTS: Assisted Reproductive Technologies and the Uniform Parentage Act, Washington State Bar Association (November 2006 & 2008).

CLE Author and Presenter, Ethical Perplexities in the Brave New World: Hypotheticals on Ethics,Washington State Bar Association (February 2006).

Washington State Legal Technician Rule: Myths and Facts, Washington State Bar News (July 2008).

Adoption Law, King County Superior Court Family Law Benchbook (2005) (with Raegen N. Rasnic).

FAQ: Surrogacy, Sperm Donation and Egg Donation in Washington for Prospective Gay and Lesbian Parents (with Raegen N. Rasnic and Janet M. Helson).

Independent Adoption in Washington (May 2003) (with Raegen N. Rasnic).


Rita L. Bender

Of Counsel (ret.)

Caleb O. Bonm

Principal | Firm President

Cynthia F. Buhr

Of Counsel

Meg E. Giske


Betsy Hershman-Greven

Managing Principal

Elizabeth Mount Penner

Senior Associate

Legal Professionals


Skellenger Bender, P.S.

520 Pike Street, Suite 1001
Seattle, WA 98101