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Law Office Management,
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Feb. 12, 2021

Senior partner celebrates 50 years with Murchison & Cumming

Friedrich W. Seitz said his fondest memories include serving as managing partner for more than 20 years and participating in the firm’s numerous trips over the years that have included skiing weekends. But what he enjoys most today is mentoring the youngest generation of attorneys.

Friedrich W. Seitz

Senior partner Friedrich W. Seitz celebrated his 50-year anniversary with litigation firm Murchison & Cumming LLP this month. Based in Los Angeles, he leads the wildland fire litigation and international law practice groups and co-chairs the product liability and business litigation practice groups.

Seitz, who was born in Germany and moved to the U.S. in 1961, said his fondest memories include serving as managing partner for more than 20 years and participating in the firm's many trips over the years that have included skiing weekends.

But what he enjoys most today is mentoring a new generation of attorneys, he said. "They are so skilled in technology, PowerPoint and all these new things that we didn't have when I started. So I learn from them and hopefully they learn from me and I can pass on the knowledge that I have acquired over the last 50 years," Seitz said.

He encourages young attorneys to be cordial and civilized the way he was taught.

"During the days when I was a young lawyer, back in the '70s, your word was your bond. It represented something. You didn't have to confirm it in writing three times," he said. "Somebody asked for an extension, you gave them an extension. Somebody asked for a favor, you did the favor."

He tries to teach younger attorneys "to get along with the other side, to represent your client forcefully. But at the end of the day, you should still be able to be friends with the plaintiffs' lawyers."

His best advice is to always take every opportunity to learn, by working alongside senior attorneys at the firm or sitting and listening in to trials, something he himself did often in the early days of his career.

Seitz joined the firm as a law clerk before passing the bar in 1971.

"I went to law school at night and had a full time job during the day working for an insurance company, and the firm represented that insurance company," he recalled. "I got to know the lawyers at the firm, in particular Mr. Cumming. He knew I was going to law school and he said, 'When you finish law school why don't you come see us.'"

During his last semester, the insurance company unexpectedly closed its California offices and the last task Seitz was given by the company was to call Cumming and let him know.

"I still remember what he said: 'I'll be damned. Well come on down Monday morning.' And I never spoke to him about salary or anything else, just showed up Monday morning and started working as a law clerk," Seitz explained.

Originally he specialized in slip-and-fall and traffic accident litigation, which slowly evolved into a focus on product liability and now wildfire litigation, particularly defending Southern California Edison.

He said he has been approached several times by other firms with offers, but has never been interested in leaving. Early on he said he had decided that this was the firm where he would one day become a partner and hopefully managing partner, which he achieved in 1986.

The firm and his work have been such an integral part of Seitz's life that he has even placed a flag with the firm's logo, along with an American and a German flag, on the summits of the mountains he has climbed, including Mount Jefferson in Oregon and Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania.

Seitz is an avid outdoorsman and is a member of the Association of Southern California Defense Counsel, the International Association of Defense Counsel and the American Board of Trial Advocates, where he is ranked an advocate for work on over 75 jury trials.

Murchison & Cumming's offices in California include Los Angeles, Irvine, Ontario, San Diego and San Francisco.

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Kamila Knaudt

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