For about 14 years Michael Lambo served as Kirkland Municipal Court judge. Last week was his last on the bench, capping off a career that included stints as an officer, lawyer and finally as a judge in Kirkland.
His last day as a Kirkland judge was Dec. 15.
Lambo was 18 when he joined Bellevue police in the cadet program in 1970. When he turned 21, he became an officer. In 1980, when Lambo was in his late 20s, he opted to attend Gonzaga University School of Law in Spokane.
“I suppose I felt a little influence from my father, who was a corporate attorney,” Lambo said. “I loved being a police officer but…felt the pull to go into law. It was a difficult decision to leave a career of 10 years and do the big switch, but it ended up being a good decision for me.”
After graduating from Gonzaga, Lambo worked at the King County Prosecutor’s Office for more than three years. There, he did criminal trial work on offenses ranging from shoplifting to homicide. And he spent 19 years in private practice, where he mostly did criminal defense.
Lambo said his venture into private practice gave him stability as he raised his family. But he felt the pull to go back to public service. Working in public service, he felt a little more purposeful.
“Then this opening came up with Kirkland Municipal Court, so I put in for it,” Lambo said.
About 57 other lawyers competed for the spot. The selection process started in October 2005 and by Jan 1, 2006, Lambo began what would become a longtime tenure as presiding judge.
While in Kirkland, Lambo also helped to create the Justice Center. The building houses the police department and municipal court.
Marilynne Beard, former deputy city manager for the city of Kirkland, came to know Lambo.
“He was always respectful, open, in terms of communicating with everybody,” she said. “I think that the attorneys that came there liked working with him…He was always respectful to defendants…People came out of there feeling dealt with respect and fairly.”
“He was great to have for so many years, she added. “I think we got really lucky.”
There are no specific retirement plans in the works yet, Lambo said. However, he said there’s sure to be time spent traveling and riding his motorcycle.