Financial guru Wade Cook got lots of
attention in the 1980s and ’90s for claiming
he could help investors double their money
every few months. In 2002, his company
filed for bankruptcy, and Cook was
convicted and imprisoned for income tax
evasion. Carey served as court-appointed
trustee in the corporate bankruptcy, with
the task of liquidating the company—
including its potentially valuable database
of clients. “The challenge was that he had
80,000 people in his database,” Carey
recalls. “How do you protect their privacy as
you sell the database? In bankruptcy, you
mostly see people who fail because they are
poor managers. But others, like Cook, fail
because they have a bad business model.”
In 2012, the state assumed control of
Tukwila-based Hartman Escrow, which
collapsed after an employee used escrow
funds to pay her gambling debts. Carey
represented the court-appointed receiver,
ultimately paying a substantial portion back
to its creditors. It was another case in which
Carey’s skills minimized the consequences
of a corporate bankruptcy, says Eric
Orse, whose company specializes in crisis
management surrounding bankruptcies.
“Diana is even-keeled, which is a crucial
quality,” Orse says. “She’s a good attorney,
but she also has a good business sense.
The first three months of a bankruptcy
can be like drinking out of a fire hose.”
Extended legal fees can drain what’s left
of a bankrupt client’s funds, leaving less
for creditors. “She understands that, if you
can arrive at a meeting of the minds sooner
than later, you benefit everybody.”
Overstreet agrees. Bankruptcy law,
she says, “is about working out a deal, a
compromise that benefits as many parties
as possible: ‘Here are the assets that are
available; how can we allocate them fairly?’
Diana Carey is a dealmaker.”
What makes her so effective at what she
does? Carey’s colleagues offer a couple of
suggestions. First, she became a lawyer
much later than most, so she has viewed life
through different lenses. And, second, she’s
“Bankruptcy law used to have the
reputation of being an old boys’ club,”
Overstreet says. “As a general rule, I think
women tend to be more collaborative
Carey’s personal heroes include former
bankruptcy professor U.S. Sen. Elizabeth
Warren. “I’ve followed her for years,” Carey
says. “She was very involved in legislation
regarding changes in the bankruptcy code.
She’s a fighter for working-class families
and a champion of financial transparency.”
Carey shares her mission. And she remains
active in the community as well as the
office. Recently, she was preparing to work
on receivership cases involving a casino, a
mill and a network of adult family homes.
She also serves on the boards of KING-FM,
University of Washington Friends of the
Libraries and Seattle Chamber Music Society.
“It’s important to be involved,” she says.
“With your practice, with the Bar, with
nonprofits—whatever you do. Get outside
Carey and her daughter,
Linda, enjoy a summer
trip to Italy in 2016.
Chapter 11, Opus 12
Getting from bankruptcy to Bach isn’t as hard as it sounds; Diana Carey
negotiates the transition almost daily. She enjoys playing her own piano
and harpsichord, but her more significant impact is as enthusiastic patron.
Carey’s work with the Seattle Chamber Music Society, which sponsors
concerts at Benaroya Hall and other venues, goes back more than 30
years. She has served on the society’s board, and as board president. And
she frequently hosts concerts and other events at her home.
“At some point, I fell in love with Bach’s Brandenburg Concertos,” she
says. “And that was that.”
Connie Cooper, the society’s executive director, wonders where the
organization would be without Carey.
“Diana can accomplish more in 24 hours than anyone I know,” she says.
“That may involve society business, or it may involve entertaining 30 or
40 people at her home. Either way, she appreciates all the little pieces
involved in any project, and knows how to make things happen.”