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Law Firm Leader: Adam P. Seitz

adam-seitzAdam P. Seitz

Erise IP

To hear him tell it, Adam Seitz is kind of a nerd at heart. From day one of law school, he never wavered from wanting a practice that would enable him to work with scientists, computer engineers and others in related fields: He wanted to be a patent attorney.

After graduating from the University of Kansas School of Law in 2002, Seitz joined Shook, Hardy & Bacon. At the time, Shook’s intellectual property practice group was still small, but Seitz said that circumstance gave him the chance to work with a team that was growing from the ground up.

“I got the ability to work very closely with the partners who were in charge of the IP section, both the litigation side and the prosecution side,” he said. “And I got to see up close how they ran things — how a law firm actually worked, how the business side of the law firm worked — and I found that fascinating.”

As the practice area grew, Seitz said he and fellow attorney Eric Buresh began to anticipate changes that would affect patent law. They also had several clients who sought the ability to be more creative with the structure of their billing, staffing and budgets, as well as how they ran their cases. That prompted the two attorneys to act on a simmering intuition and form their own firm in 2012.

“He and I both just had a strong desire to build something of our own,” Seitz said.

It wasn’t easy. Seitz laughs as he recalls the first two weeks of Erise IP’s start in Kansas City:

“I think I lost somewhere around 10 pounds,” he said.

Leaving was an act of faith. Due to ethical obligations in Kansas and Missouri, Seitz and Buresh couldn’t just call clients and ask them to leave their previous firm with them, nor could they ask staff to join them on their new adventure. They boxed up their belongings, put them in the back of Seitz’s truck, drove to a nearby parking lot and started making phone calls. The two young attorneys were dialing for their future, ignoring the cold weather while taking turns standing outside to avoid talking over each other.

The day the doors opened on Erise IP, the new firm represented Sony, Garmin, Ford, and video game company Ubisoft Electronic Arts, among other large companies. At that time, around 10 people worked for the firm.

Erise needed to grow quickly to cover the work of its existing clients, and getting patent attorneys to move to Kansas City wasn’t easy, Seitz said. Erise IP now is home to more than 30 people with a roster of successful clients. Building that team is one of the accomplishments of which Seitz is most proud.

Now sitting on the far side of building a successful law firm, Seitz said he would tell his younger self to not worry so much.

“I learned through that entire process . . . that I need to have faith; that I’m not in control, number one, and that God, who’s in control, has a good plan for us.”

Correction: A previous version of this story misstated the number of attorneys at Erise IP. We regret the error.

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