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Melody B. McCutcheon

  • Title:Attorney
  • Direct:206.470.7633
  • Main:206.623.1745
  • Fax:206.623.7789
  • Email:Melody
  • Legal Assistant
  • Vicki Hadley
  • Direct:206.470.7641
  • Email:Vicki

With an urban planning degree and years of prior experience working in the agency that regulates development in the City of Seattle, Melody is uniquely qualified to assist clients with due diligence and entitlements for Seattle development.

Melody has been the lead on entitling dozens of sites in Seattle, with a special focus on Downtown, South Lake Union, First Hill, and other growing neighborhoods.Best Lawyers Award Badge


Representative Matters

  • Represent multiple developers with about 25 office and residential projects in the booming South Lake Union neighborhood.  HCMP was the first to work out purchase of King County Regional Development Credits as a means of gaining extra floor area for those projects.

  • Represent Seattle Aquarium Society on its Master Plan and future expansion, including environmental review and permitting.

  • Assisted Seattle Housing Authority with the redevelopment of Yesler Terrace to better serve existing and future residents in a new mixed income and mixed use community on this 40-acre site near downtown. This is the first project in the City of Seattle to utilize the Planned Action approach to environmental review. Melody assisted in creating a new Master Planned Community Zone for the site that uses innovative zoning tools. Now, she helps with entitlements for build out of the site.

  • Serve as outside counsel to the Puget Sound Regional Council on metropolitan planning efforts, including the Transportation 2040 Plan for the region. Successfully defended Transportation 2040 in litigation that challenged whether the Plan adequately assessed greenhouse gas emissions from transportation.

  • Obtained entitlements for the Bullitt Foundation’s Living Building Challenge project in Seattle, the most energy-efficient midrise commercial office building in the world.

  • Obtained approval of rezones for a life sciences project in South Lake Union, a multi-family development on Capitol Hill, and a large site at Northgate.

  • Extensive work on historic properties, including Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board and National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 process.

Articles and Presentations

  • Co-author of Land Use Petition Act, enacted by the State Legislature to create a simplified and uniform set of rules for appealing local land use decisions to court.

  • Co-author, “Environmental Critical Areas,” chapter 100, Real Property Deskbook, Third Edition, Washington State Bar Association.

Professional and Civic Involvement

  • Coalition for Housing Solutions - detailed work on implementation of HALA recommendations for affordable housing
  • University of Washington Law School - held special appointments to Faculty as Instructor in Land Use Planning and Environmental Law
  • Reading Partners - tutor first graders one-on-one to advance their reading skills

Honors / Awards / Prior Experience

  • Senior Planner for seven years at the agency currently called the Seattle Department of Construction and Inspections. Melody was responsible for making entitlement decisions on all types of land use applications. This prior experience provides clients a uniquely valuable understanding of the entitlement process.

  • Ranked by Chambers USA in 2012 – 2016 as a Leading Individual for Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use.

  • Featured in “Landmark Lawyer” article in Washington Super Lawyers magazine, August. 2015.

  • Repeatedly named a Super Lawyer by Washington Super Lawyers

  • One of 2014 Top Women Attorneys in Washington

  • A/V Preeminent Lawyer 5.0, Martindale Hubbell.

  • Named to the 2017 edition of Best Lawyers in America®


  • J.D., University of Washington School of Law, 1988
         Order of the Coif
         Moot Court Competition, Outstanding Oralist and Outstanding Team
         Moot Court Honor Board
  • M.U.P., University of Washington, Masters of Urban Planning, 1978
         Faculty Award as Outstanding Student of 1977-1978
  • B.A., Stanford University, with highest honors, 1974
         Phi Beta Kappa

Bar/Court Admissions

  • Washington State Supreme Court
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington


I'm an avid tennis player and gardener, and I'm doing my best to learn Spanish.  I also love to travel, and a World Atlas can always be found on my living room table.