Today we are introducing Michael Kutzner, an associate and team leader in Tyson & Mendes’ Seattle office. He has a wealth of experience in the courtroom as a criminal defense attorney and brings that expertise to represent individuals and businesses in a wide variety of civil litigation matters. Learn more about Michael’s career journey below.
T&M: Before joining Tyson & Mendes, you worked in criminal defense – what made you switch to an insurance defense firm?
MK: I loved being in court every day, but I needed a change of pace from practicing criminal law. I thoroughly enjoyed the challenge of criminal defense, but I felt the practice of law held something different for me. However, I did not want to leave the courtroom for a cubicle. Tyson & Mendes provided me with the opportunity for exciting case work coupled with courtroom appearances.
T&M: What do you think makes Tyson & Mendes so unique?
MK: Transparency. What you see is what you get. It is a true team atmosphere at Tyson & Mendes. The in-house training on how to use effective defense litigation mechanisms is a game-changer.
T&M: Tell us about your biggest or most significant litigation experience?
MK: We lost a motion for summary judgment, then our motion for reconsideration. We filed a motion for discretionary review with the Court of Appeals and won. We then filed our appeal, which the court granted. Arguing at the appeal level was the highlight. It was a long process, but a big win at the end of the day for our client.
T&M: What advice would you give to young attorneys who are just starting in this field?
MK: Be honest. Be yourself and find a good mentor.
T&M: What did you want to be when you grew up?
MK: I had no idea. I went to technical college after high school and became a heavy-duty mechanic. I worked for Finning Inc. for almost eight years before going back to school. Quitting my mechanic career was quite difficult – it was like playing in a sandbox every day, just with bigger toys.
T&M: Why did you decide to become a lawyer instead?
MK: I always knew I wanted to use my mind at some point to help others. After ruling out medicine and dentistry in college, I began shadowing attorneys. Once I realized every day was essentially going to be like working on a puzzle to complete a case portrait, I was hooked.
T&M: What have you read/watched/listened to recently that you would recommend?
MK: Decisions That Matter by Andrew E Jillson, Eric Fletcher, and Roger L. Hayse. It looks at leadership within a firm, and how to make it most effective and meaningful to others.
T&M: When family or friends are visiting Seattle, where is the first place you take them to eat?
MK: Umi or Wasabi. It is hard to beat sushi, especially on a beautiful, summer day.
T&M: If you could travel anywhere in the world – all expenses paid – where would you go?
MK: Maldives. As a biology major, I think the blue bioluminescence would be quite fantastic.