Twitchell and Rice, LLP

Twitchell and Rice, LLP has a rich, long history as the oldest law firm in the Santa Maria Valley.

Thomas Preisker

Thomas Preisker


In 1886, Phillip Stewart, began practicing law out of his home in Santa Maria, California. In 1894, he associated with Thomas Preisker. Mr. Preisker was elected the first City Attorney of Santa Maria in 1905. Thomas Preisker and Phillip Stewart practiced together until 1908 when they were joined by Mr. Preisker’s son, Charles "Leo" Preisker.


Charles "Leo" Preisker


Charles "Leo" Preisker graduated from Santa Maria High School in 1903, and in 1907 graduated from Hastings School of Law. He served as City Attorney for Santa Maria from 1915 to 1920.

In addition to law, Charles Preisker had a long, distinguished career as a politician. In 1910, he was elected to a term in the Assembly. In 1915, California’s Governor Hiram Johnson appointed Mr. Preisker to the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors, a post he held for nearly 30 years, and served as Chairman of the Board for 22 years.

After the 1925 Santa Barbara earthquake, Santa Barbara’s courthouse was destroyed. Mr. Preisker was instrumental in the building of the current Santa Barbara courthouse which is known as one of the most beautiful and elegant courthouses in the world. Outside the door to the Mural Room stands a picture of Charles Preisker as a tribute to his ingenuity, inspiration, and determination in bringing to fruition the Santa Barbara courthouse. He retired from the practice of law on January 31, 1951, and passed away on May 6, 1966.

Fred Goble

Fred Goble


While attending Hastings School of Law, Charles Preisker met another law student by the name of Fred Goble. They roomed together during law school and survived the devastating San Francisco earthquake of 1906. In 1917, Mr. Goble moved to Santa Maria and associated with Charles Preisker and Thomas Preisker. The firm then became known as Preisker, Preisker and Goble. Mr. Goble served the Valley for many years, for a time serving as Assistant District Attorney, Santa Maria City Attorney and as a judge.


Theodore "Cap" Twitchell


Theodore Twitchell joined the firm in 1926 after earning his law degree from Hastings School of Law that same year. The firm then became known as Preisker, Goble & Twitchell.

Theodore Twitchell served on the Santa Barbara County Board of Supervisors from 1943 to 1950, and served as the Chairman of the Board during his last term. He also served as Chairman of the County Planning and Public Works Committee.

Although Charles Preisker laid the groundwork for flood control and the building of a dam to protect the Santa Maria Valley, it was Theodore Twitchell who was instrumental in making the dam a reality. Unfortunately Theodore Twitchell died in 1955 at the age of 52 before construction of the dam began, which was originally named the Vaquero Dam. The name of the Vaquero Dam was changed to the Twitchell Dam to honor Theodore Twitchell for the countless hours he devoted to the project.

Morris Stephan

Morris Stephan


Morris Stephan joined the firm after graduating from USC School of Law in 1930. In 1942, he enlisted in the Naval Air Force where he served as a legal and civilian personnel officer. He was discharged in 1946 with the rank of Lieutenant Commander. He came home again to Santa Maria and became a partner in the law firm, which then became known as Preisker, Goble, Twitchell & Stephan.

In 1952, Mr. was elected Justice of the Peace of the 7th Judicial District in Santa Maria. He was re-elected and served terms in the Justice Court which eventually became the Municipal Court. He was later appointed by the Governor as Judge of the Superior Court of Santa Barbara County from 1970 to 1972. Stephan retired in 1972 after 22 years of service, and passed away in 1988.

William C. Rice

William C. Rice


William C. Rice was born in 1914, and was a fourth generation member of a pioneer family. He graduated from Hastings School of Law in 1939. During World War II, William Rice served from 1942 to 1945 as a communications officer in the Navy, thereafter joining the firm which then became known as Preisker, Goble, Twitchell & Rice. He practiced law with the firm until his death in 1960 at the age of 46. At the time of his death, his oldest son, W. Kenneth Rice, was 13 years old. Ken Rice followed his father’s footstep and joined the firm in 1980.

Maurice F. Twitchell

Maurice F. Twitchell


Born in 1930, Maurice F. Twitchell was the eldest son of Theodore Twitchell. He attended local schools and graduated from Stanford School of Law in 1955. Maurice Twitchell returned to Santa Maria that same year to work for the firm after the premature death of his father. Maurice Twitchell inherited his father’s interest in water law, water conservation, and the newly constructed Twitchell Dam. He served on the Santa Maria Valley Water Conservation District for many years, acting as its secretary from 1958 through 1996. In 1999, Maurice Twitchell was honored by the Santa Barbara County Bar Association with its Lifetime Achievement Award. He practiced law at the firm until he passed away on December 3, 2000, at the age of 70.

Burton J. Twitchell

Burton J. Twitchell


Burton J. Twitchell was born in 1933, attended local schools and graduated from Stanford School of Law in 1958. Like his older brother, Maurice, Burton Twitchell returned to Santa Maria to practice law.

Burton Twitchell’s practice was largely devoted to family law matters, many of which were pro bono clients. He treated his clients with understanding and respect through difficult situations.

Burton passed away suddenly on April 5, 2000, at the age of 67. He was honored posthumously by the Santa Barbara County Bar Association with its Lifetime Achievement Award in the year 2000.

W. Kenneth Rice

W. Kenneth Rice


W. Kenneth Rice was born in Santa Maria in 1947. Despite the loss of his father at a young age, he followed in his father's footsteps and went to law school. He earned his law degree from Loyola University School of Law, and then returned to Santa Maria, taking a job with the California Rural Legal Assistance until 1980 when he joined the firm, then known as Twitchell and Twitchell. Shortly thereafter, Ken Rice became a partner, and the firm became known as Twitchell and Rice.

Ken Rice was very passionate about the work he did at CRLA, believing that those less fortunate should not be taken advantage of and are entitled to equal representation under the law. This is evidenced by the case of Murgia v. Municipal Court (1975) 15 Cal.3d 286, which was one of his most satisfying victories. He enjoyed helping people the most, advocating on their behalf and working to assure all people are treated fair. Ken Rice practiced law at Twitchell and Rice, LLP until he passed away in 2005 at the age of 58.