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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

Melody's practice focuses on land use and environmental law for both private and public entities. Her extensive experience in this area is augmented by several years as a senior planner at what is now the Department of Planning and Development. In that position, she was responsible for reviewing projects and issuing decisions on all types of land use applications. This prior experience provides clients a unique understanding of the government permitting process. This greatly benefits clients when it comes to assessing development feasibility and obtaining permits and approvals.Best Lawyers Award Badge


Representative Matters

  • Represent multiple developers with about 15 office and residential projects in the booming South Lake Union neighborhood. We are 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Worked with Seattle Mariners baseball team to obtain permits and approvals for Safeco Field. 
  • Extensive work on historic properties, including Seattle Landmarks Preservation Board and National Historic Preservation Act Section 106 process.
  • Serve as land use counsel to a wide variety of multi-family and commercial developers, throughout Puget Sound. Particular areas of emphasis include Urban Centers and shoreline projects.

Articles and Presentations

  • Speaker, "Climate Change Issues in Regional Transportation Planning," November 7, 2013.
  • Panelist, "Living Building Challenge Compliance in an Urban Environment - Lessons Learned from The Bullitt Center," May 16, 2013.
  • Speaker, "Climate Change Developments Under SEPA: Ecology's New Guidance and Pending Appeals / GHG appeal of the PSRC Transportation Plan," November 4, 2011.
  • 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
  • Global Partnerships
       Provide pro bono assistance to GP, which is a socially motivated microfinance organization focusing on Latin America
  • University of Washington Law School
       Held special appointments to faculty as instructor in Land Use Planning and Environmental Law

Honors / Awards / Prior Experience

  • Named to the 2016 edition of Best Lawyers in America®
  • Featured in “Landmark Lawyer” article in Washington Super Lawyers magazine, August 2015
  • Ranked by Chambers USA in 2012 - 2015 as a Leading Individual for Real Estate: Zoning/Land Use.
  • A/V Preeminent Lawyer 5.0, Martindale Hubbell
  • Repeatedly named a Super Lawyer by Washington Super Lawyers; one of 2014 Top Women Attorneys in Washington.


  • 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.