At 6 feet 4 inches and 235 pounds, Melvin Welch cuts an imposing figure. That can be both an advantage and a disadvantage in the courtroom, particularly for someone naturally inclined to excitability when fighting injustice. But Welch has learned to make his size work for him.
“You have to be congenial; otherwise you’re seen as oppressive and tyrannical,” Welch says. “But you can use that size to cultivate the ethos of authority.”
A U.S. Navy veteran who once worked as a translator during NATO’s Kosovo peacekeeping mission, Welch started practicing law in 2007. First he was a state public defender and later he launched St. Paul-based Welch Law Firm.
He has developed a reputation as a zealous, persistently effective defender who takes time to mentor young attorneys. He is a Minnesota American Indian Bar Association board member and works closely with the University of Minnesota’s alumni student committee and mentorship program. He takes on two or three pro bono cases a year that he says “strike at my sympathy bone.”
He deals mostly with felonies in the state and federal systems and feels most at home with those cases. “It’s so much faster paced,” he said. “And I guess it requires a little bit of inventiveness.”