John A. Safarli

Senior Counsel



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John Safarli joined Macdonald Devin 2023, bringing over 10 years of litigation experience in state and federal courts. John has tried cases to verdict before both juries and judges across a broad range of subject matter, from wrongful death to employment to federal civil rights. He has successfully resolved matters for clients in numerous mediations, arbitrations, and before governmental agencies. John has also argued before the highest state appellate courts and in the United States Courts of Appeals.


John is often asked by clients to deliver presentations on best practices and emerging legal issues. He has also been invited to testify before state legislative bodies on proposed legislation.

His approach to litigation combines rigorous fact investigation and dynamic legal thinking with an empathetic connection to clients. He understands that clients commit the defense of their livelihoods, interests, and reputations to their lawyers. For John, there is no greater honor than a client trusting him to deliver a successful result and delivering on that expectation.

After graduating law school, John clerked for the Honorable J. Robin Hunt (ret.) of the Washington State Court of Appeals, where he honed his legal writing and reasoning under the mentorship of Judge Hunt and her colleagues. He also spent one year working for the Washington Administrative Office of the Courts to develop and launch a program providing legal research and analysis support to state trial court judges who did not have judicial law clerks or staff attorneys. The program is widely used and praised by jurists across the state.

Representative Experience
  • Obtained a unanimous defense verdict after a month-long jury trial in federal court involving alleged civil rights violations. Successfully defended the verdict on appeal by briefing and arguing the case before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit.
  • Won a defense verdict in a jury trial on behalf of a prosecuting attorney’s office sued by former employees alleging retaliation and wrongful discharge.
  • Secured a unanimous defense verdict in a jury trial on behalf of a not-for-profit organization against whistleblower claims brought by a former executive.
  • Obtained a jury verdict finding that plaintiff was 90% at fault in a wrongful death action arising out of a major construction accident.
  • Prevailed on a summary judgment motion in state court arguing that plaintiffs’ wrongful death and product liability act claims arising out of a general aviation accident were preempted by federal law and regulations.
  • “Kid Stuff”, Washington Association of Public Records Officers; October 25, 2018 (Tacoma, WA)
  • “The Washington Voting Rights Act”, Washington City/County Management Association; August 16, 2018 (Winthrop, WA)
  • “The Washington Voting Rights Act: A New Area of Opportunity and Risk Management”, Association of Washington Cities 2018 Annual Conference; June 27, 2018 (Yakima, WA)
  • “Isolation and Restraint”, Washington State Council of School Attorneys; April 27, 2018 (SeaTac, WA)
  • “The Washington Voting Rights Act: A New Area of Risk and Risk Management”, Washington State Association of Municipal Attorneys; May 3, 2018 (Whistler, Canada)
  • “Voting Rights Act Webinar”, Association of Washington Cities, April 25, 2018 (online)
  • “Case Law Update”, Washington State School Directors’ Association, November 16, 2017 (Bellevue, WA)
  • “Ethics in Litigation”, Washington State Council of School Attorneys; May 19, 2017 (SeaTac, WA)
  • “The Public Records Act: Basics and Not-So-Basics”, Washington State Association of School Business Officials; May 12, 2017 (Spokane, WA)
  • Engrossed Substitute House Bill 1745 (Washington Voting Rights Act) – Joint Work Session of the Washington State Senate Law & Justice Committee and Government Operations & Security Committee (May 7, 2015)
  • Maxwell and Tribal Sovereign Immunity in the Ninth Circuit: Restoring a True Purpose or Ignoring Reality? Emerging Issues in Tribal State-Relations (Thomson Reuters/Aspatore, 2016 ed.) (co-author)
  • At Full Strength, Cityvision (Association of Washington Cities, March/April 2016)
  • Note the Vote, Cityvision (Association of Washington Cities, May/June 2018)
Educational and Professional Background
  • Benjamin N. Cardozo School of Law, Juris Doctor, 2021
  • Seattle University, Bachelor of Philosophy, 2007
Court Admissions
  • Texas (pending)
  • Washington
  • U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas
  • U.S. District Court for the Western District of Washington
  • U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington
  • U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the Eastern District of Washington
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit