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Brandon Vaughn, co-chair of Robins Kaplan’s diversity committee, in June was appointed secretary of the Hennepin County Bar Association. (File photo: Bill Klotz)

Breaking the Ice: Helping individuals focuses practice, pro bono work

Name: Brandon Vaughn

Title: Principal, Robins Kaplan

Education: B.A., English, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; J.D., University of Wisconsin Law School

Brandon Vaughn, principal at Robins Kaplan, would rather work with individual clients than corporations.

That makes his medical malpractice and personal injury practice a good fit.

“I always wanted to help people that were harmed in some way,” Vaughn said. “I wanted to be able to put a face with my client and know I was making a difference.”

Vaughn also likes serving as a counselor to clients, an opportunity his practice and his pro bono work in family law and immigration also provides.

“Sometimes being the ear to listen or the shoulder to cry on, explaining what’s going on makes a huge difference for people,” Vaughn said.

Vaughn, co-chair of Robins Kaplan’s diversity committee, in June was appointed secretary of the Hennepin County Bar Association. He’s on track to become the organization’s president in 2021-2022.

Vaughn was recognized as a Minnesota Lawyer Up & Coming Attorney in 2016.

Q. What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A. “Hello.” I’m happy to chat with anybody. I usually try to bring some type of humor to any conversation. Oftentimes, particularly in the legal profession, some people are too caught up in being too serious and lose the basic human nature and characteristics of who we are.

Q. What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A. When I was in sixth grade I had this desire to learn the rules of the school. I became the schoolyard lawyer where I could tell my classmates what type of trouble they could get in for various offenses. From that situation I was like, “Maybe the law is for me.” My dad is a lawyer but he practices transactional stuff.

Q. What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A. The leisure reading I do takes place in the form of magazines. I read Sports Illustrated, Time and Newsweek.

Q. What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A. Achieving a result that a client is happy with. The other thing that I enjoy most is the analytical skills that you learn in law school that help you become a change agent for anything that you want and the ability to try to make a difference in the world.

Q. Least favorite?

A. Keeping track of the billable hours.

Q. What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A. I am a huge sports enthusiast. I moonlight as a semi-competitive softball player. I play in softball tournaments throughout the year. This year, in addition to tournaments in Minnesota, I’ve played in Texas, Missouri, Georgia and Florida.

Q. If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A. I’m from Chicago. I would probably take them to my parents’ home. My parents are some of the most hospitable people I know. They would likely organize some great dinner party and have good conversation. You can do the tourist stuff but I think my parents are pretty good entertainment.

Q. Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A. My dad [Thomas Vaughn]. He’s taught me a lot about grit and the importance of establishing meaningful client relationships and focusing on customer service in the profession. I think some of that gets lost.

Q. What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney?

A. I spend a lot of time trying to educate the public on the importance of having health care providers and folks who cause injuries to one another held accountable. People make mistakes. It doesn’t mean they’re a bad person. But it also doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be held accountable.

Q. What if any is your favorite depiction of the legal professional in popular culture?

A. A show that I watch that I think has no accuracy in the legal profession at all but I watch because I like the attire many of the characters wear is “Suits.” They’re very well dressed. I get fashion ideas from them.

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