Seeger Weiss founding partner Chris Seeger received the National Law Journal’s Elite Trial Lawyers Lifetime Achievement Award at their 2022 award ceremony. After accepting his award, Chris sat down with ALM executive editor, Young Professionals Network Tasha Norman to discuss the secrets of our firm’s success. The full video is below; here are a few excerpts of their conversation.
Tasha: Being a lifetime achievement winner, what is the secret sauce?
Chris: I would say the secret sauce for us at our firm is constantly being reminded – and we constantly tell our lawyers to always be mindful of the fact – that although we may have a lot of cases in the office, the case to our client is the most important thing going on in their life. It could represent the most traumatic thing that happened to them. So, we approach every case like that, remembering that and with a work ethic that’s consistent with that.
I would say this not just about me, but about everybody in my firm. I’m sure we all go to bed at night making sure we did everything we were supposed to do, and wake up ready to pick up where we left off. That’s the secret sauce.
T: How important is talent recruitment at your firm?
C: For us, it’s very important. We put a lot of emphasis into taking good care of our employees. Our associates and lawyers, we try to mentor them so that they can all have the opportunity to move up in the ranks, become partners. I came from a big firm and even though it wasn’t ideologically where I wanted to be, I learned very good practice mechanics.
Our partners came from Fried Frank and the US attorney’s office, so we put a big emphasis on academic ability, which gets you through the door. But we also want people that bring a commonsense approach and a good work ethic, so recruitment is very important to us. We feel like a lot of the results we’ve been able to achieve are because we have terrific people.
T: You have young lawyers coming in, what advice would you give to them in terms of them rising up the ranks and succeeding?
C: What we tell them, very candidly, is that you’ve got to work hard. But we also give them an example of how our firm really got started. In the early days when it was just two or three of us, we got our name out there. We got recognized by doing really good work. Many of the cases we’re involved with are very big cases and hundreds of lawyers sometimes compete for a role, and the court may pick 12 or 15 firms.
So, the case starts out really big, but what happens in every case is that it winds up being two, three, maybe four firms shouldering most of the work and really doing the meaningful work in the case. For a lot of reasons: because they’re good, they learn the case, they’re putting the time in, they haven’t moved on to other projects. And what we tell our young lawyers is that you’re doing a good job when the case boils down to those three or four firms, that you’re one of the people they want in the room, that the other lawyers want you there with them, and they trust you enough to be there with them to be part of that sort of inner circle. And that’s kind of a test that we give them.