Remembering Kurt Melchior

Nossaman Announcement

It is with great sadness that we announce the passing of Kurt W. Melchior, our friend and colleague, who was a partner and general counsel at Nossaman for more than 30 years.

Kurt was one of California’s pre-eminent trial lawyers, with more than 60 years of experience in litigation. During the course of his long and storied career, he served as counsel of record in more than 70 published cases. He tried two class actions to successful verdicts. He also served as a testifying expert in dozens of cases on both attorney ethics and insurance coverage practices. He was inducted into the California Bar Association’s Trial Lawyer Hall of Fame in 2004 and received a lifetime achievement award, which was presented in recognition of his stature in the legal profession and his contributions to the community. He actively practiced into his 97th year and only retired in March of 2022.

Kurt also was a member of the San Francisco Law Library Board of Trustees for more than 40 years and served as its president. Under his leadership, the library converted from a 19th century institution to a 21st century library when its bookkeeping, catalog and library systems were converted from manual ledgers to automated systems and electronic resources were added to supplement the extensive print collection. Kurt was also instrumental in diversifying the library’s board. Additionally, he served as vice president of the State Bar of California; Deputy Editor for the American College of Legal Medicine's online publication, Legal Medicine Perspectives; Senior Delegate to the State Bar of California to the House of Delegates for the American Bar Association; and as a member of the Standing Committee on Specialization for the American Bar Association.

Kurt’s life in America began with his dramatic escape from Nazi Germany with his family, and he later served in the Unites States Army before attending college on the G.I. Bill. He received his undergraduate degree, as well as a master's degree, from the University of Chicago and earned his LL.B. at Yale Law School.

“Kurt had an unparalleled passion for the practice, a sterling reputation in the legal community, an encyclopedic knowledge of so many areas of law and the strongest commitment to public service of any lawyer many of us have ever known. We were very fortunate that Kurt chose to join Nossaman. May his memory be a blessing,” said George Joseph, managing partner of Nossaman.

Patrick Richard, co-chair of Nossaman’s Corporate Group, added, “Kurt was a phenomenal attorney and an even better person. Given his vast legal experience, the insight he provided when mentoring attorneys at Nossaman—both young associates and seasoned veterans—proved invaluable. In 1986, he gave me my first assignment when I was a summer associate at his prior firm; he was my friend and mentor for over 35 years. He leaves a legacy of decency and the belief in the power of law for good.”

Yuliya Oryol, co-chair of the Public Pensions & Investments Group, remembered, “Kurt was a brilliant jurist, a champion of civil liberties and a wonderful human being. He had a tremendous influence on the attorneys and staff in the San Francisco office during his over 30 years at the firm. It was a privilege of a lifetime to practice law with Kurt, and we were lucky to have him as part of the Nossaman family. Kurt will be dearly missed by all of us at the firm.”

Kurt is survived by his wife Sue, his brother Frank, his children Karen Anne Melchior and Katherine Melchior Ray and four grandchildren, Sabin Ray, Hunter Ray, Audrey Fisher and George Fisher, a sister-in-law and many nieces and nephews. 

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