Lawyers To Help You

Melissa Denton, founding partner and senior lawyer at Ascher & Denton.

I started practiced family law in Thurston County in 1990.

My focus is on helping people who want to resolve their cases with a minimum of ugly and expensive court action. While the courts are essential and necessary when people just can't agree, it is so much wiser to handle personal family issues privately and with a minimum of expense when acceptable agreements can be reached. When the court is needed, I work hard to get a good result that will allow the family to begin to heal in a new form rather than being further damaged by the adversarial process required in litigation.

One Lawyer

Since 2004, I've pioneered a new way of practicing law, called One Lawyer. Please be sure to check out the description of One Lawyer on our website. It works wonderfully when both sides have the trust and respect necessary to work together for an agreed, no court needed, resolution.


Famous Case

A case that made law familiar to every Washington family lawyer was a lot of work for me. I represented a client from the beginning of a divorce though the ten day divorce trial (a rare thing, I assure you), through two appellate court cases and up through the Supreme Court of Washington. This case is called Rideout v. Rideout 150 Wn.2d 337, 359, 77 P.3d 1174 (2003). The wonderful clients I have worked for since 1990 enrich my perspective and have given me a lot of experience to draw on in practicing family law .

Personal Background

In 1985, I earned my black belt in Shorin Ryu Karate right before starting law school. It helped.

My husband and I married and moved to Washington in 1987. We have a wonderful teenaged son. I'm very active in my church and participate in many volunteer and civic activities in the Thurston County area. My family is in Oklahoma and my husband's family is in Malaysia, so we travel a lot.

Melissa Denton's Credentials

I was admitted to the Washington State Bar in 1989, as well as to practice before the US Federal District Court for Western Washington.

Law Schools: I finished my last year of law school (doubling student loans from all of my former education) at Seattle University School of Law, which was then called UPS Law School in Tacoma. Transferring those Washington credits back to my former school, I was awarded a Juris Doctorate Degree from The University of Oklahoma School of Law in 1988. Part of my coursework for my law degree was earned at The Queen's College, University of Oxford in England.

Undergraduate Schools: My 1984 Bachelor of Arts Degree and some Master's degree coursework are from The University of Oklahoma in - major in history and minor in psychology, also classes in electrical engineering and physical therapy and a summer studying Political Science and History at Rewley House, University of Oxford summer program on a scholarship.

Bar Affiliations: Thurston County Bar Association (Member, Family Law Section; Former President and Founding Member of Thurston County Young Lawyers) and Washington State Bar Association (Former Member, Board of Trustees, Young Lawyers Division).

Volunteer Work: In the thirty years I've lived in Thurston County, it has been a pleasure to work with a dozen different organizations helping our community. I am active and volunteer at church, including past service on the board, service as vice-president, president of the board. and other committees and activities. I'm the volunteer attorney advising The Olympia Free Clinic. I teach and mentor other attorneys at the Thurston County Volunteer Legal Clinic. I also ran for public office in 2018, losing in a tight finish for the position of Thurston County Commissioner.

James Ascher, Retired Attorney

Jim Ascher and Melissa Denton joined their individual law

firms in 1995. At their first business meeting, Jim made a

solemn announcement: "We have good news and we have

bad news." Melissa asked for the good news. "The good

news is - we qualify for food stamps."

Fortunately, Jim was kidding and a very enjoyable law practice

has continued ever since. Jim is still in touch frequently, but he

retired fully from the practice of law at the end of 2014. Although

Jim is not in the office every day, he is in touch with us every week

or so and we still get together when life permits. We are grateful

for his wisdom and friendship.

Jim's former careers in network news and with the US Foreign

Service certainly add spice to the mix and his wise advice

and good humor still add to the quality of this law firm.

Additional Attorneys As of Now

 Attorney Deborah Cushman also helps us as an independent contractor, when needed. We will also soon recruit another fabulous family law attorney to help us help more families even better than we currently have the capacity to accomplish.

Non-Lawyer Staff

Jay Ruymann, Legal Assistant  

Jay began working with Ascher & Denton in 2018. Equipped with his

Bachelor of Arts degree from The Evergreen State College, emphasizing

writing as his area of study, Jay quickly grew to appreciate the impact his

writing could have in this daunting field of law.


Jay has a passion for writing and television and often spends his free time

writing about television. He also enjoys reading, baking, and spending

time with his friends.



Kendra Freas, Legal Assistant

Kendra graduated with her Bachelor of Arts from The Evergreen State College in 2017, with emphasis on philosophy and writing. She joined Ascher & Denton in 2019, happy to channel her philosophical mind toward practical and meaningful legal work, in service to her community.

Kendra and her husband have a little baby, Frances, and two small dogs. She is a devoted sister and daughter, well-rooted in Olympia. Her family spends as much time as possible on the Washington coast and walking in the PNW forests. 

Outside of learning law, Kendra loves working with fiber arts and recently has been exploring ceramics at the Olympia Community Center.

Deborah Cushman, Bookkeeping

Deborah was an employee of Ascher & Denton from 2018 until recently, when she opened her legal bookkeeping business and now she is an independent contractor, helping us keep the books perfectly straight, which is the only way that they should be in this business. Although Deb is also a lawyer and sometimes does lawyer work with Ascher & Denton, her work as a bookkeeper is not performed in the capacity of lawyer, but as a bookkeeper.   |   360-357-8669   |   Olympia, Washington