Unlike one of my partners, I, in fact, became a lawyer because my dad’s a lawyer … at this firm. More on nepotism later.
This requires an explanation.
I was not the best college student. I loved going to the University of Washington as an undergraduate, but I didn’t very much like attending classes. And I took classes with little purpose in mind. Let’s just say that I fell behind on the road to graduation.
Then, three years into college I took a Philosophy of Law class. Not really by accident. My dad, Keith Kessler, like me, obtained a philosophy degree from the UW. We would have wonderful discussions about that class. And with that one class and those rousing discussions with my dad, I was hooked. And I focused.
Graduating from the UW, I then turned to law school. But first, I wanted to see the world. Six seasons as a Princess Tours guide gave me lots of “face time” with regular folks who loved to travel and learn about the areas where we traveled on eight to ten-day motor coach trips, mostly to the Canadian Rockies. That job also allowed me to save a few dollars so I could travel between my studies to Europe, Asia, Australia and South America.
As a second-year law student, I did an internship with a Bangkok, Thailand law firm and grew to very much enjoy the Land of Smiles. To this day, I make yearly trips back to Thailand. Okay, and my wife’s from there, so that provides a convenient excuse to make return trips.
Before graduating from law school, I distinguished myself as a pretty skilled advocate, winning my law school’s mock trial and moot court competitions. And that’s when Paul Stritmatter and my dad gave me the invitation to join the firm upon graduation. My first jury trial occurred before I had a law license. After taking the bar in the summer of 1992, my dad and I successfully tried my first case in Gray Harbor County Superior Court in the fall of that year. The jury verdict came back the same day as the letter from the Bar announcing I’d passed.
I’m lucky that I can say that I’ve been with the same law firm my entire career. I’ve been a part of many successful jury trials and settlements over my tenure with the firm. I am also very proud of my service in the legal community having chaired committees for my state’s trial bar. But I’m perhaps most proud of my service as President of the Public Justice Foundation, a national non-profit public interest law firm in D.C. I could have never reached that position without the full support of my law partners to whom I am very grateful.
- President’s Award, Public Justice Foundation, 2016
- Change Maker Award, Public Justice Foundation, 2016
- Best Oralist in the Fred Tausend Moot Court Competition, Seattle University School of Law, 1992
- Warren Peterson Advocacy Award, Seattle University School of Law, 1992
- 2018 National Trial Lawyers Top 100
- Named as Top 100 Super Lawyer in Washington State Super Lawyers 2001-present
- American Association for Justice
- American Board of Trial Advocates
- Damages Attorneys Round Table (DART)
- Public Justice Foundation: President (2015-2016), Board of Directors and Washington State Coordinator
- Washington State Association for Justice (WSAJ): Chair Insurance Law Section, 1997 – 1998 and 2003 – 2004
- Washington State Bar Association (WSBA)
- Bar Memberships:
- U.S. District Court, Western District of Washington
- U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Washington
- U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
- United States Supreme Court
- Seattle University, J.D., cum laude, 1992
- University of Washington, B.A. Philosophy, 1988