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Patrick Hynes is an attorney in Messerli Kramer’s government relations group in St. Paul. (File photo: Bill Klotz)
Patrick Hynes is an attorney in Messerli Kramer’s government relations group in St. Paul. (File photo: Bill Klotz)

Breaking the Ice: Capitol experience leads to law, lobbying work

Name: Patrick Hynes

Title: Attorney, Messerli Kramer

Education: B.A., history, University of Vermont; M.A., history, American University; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

Patrick Hynes, attorney in Messerli Kramer’s government relations group in St. Paul, often makes his case at the Capitol rather than in a courtroom.

As a lobbyist, Hynes’ favorable results come not from judges or juries but from seeing green lights illuminate as lawmakers record “yea” votes.

“That’s one of the very cool things,” Hynes said. “You can look up there and see those lights go on, and that’s your client’s bill.”

Hynes was a Minnesota Senate staffer, rising to policy adviser to the Senate majority leader before going to law school. He worked in private practice and as intergovernmental relations counsel at the League of Minnesota Cities before joining Messerli Kramer in 2015.

Hynes enjoys learning about clients’ issues and bringing those concerns to lawmakers and state officials.

“It’s about trying to educate them on a particular issue and informing them in a short amount of time in a way that will resonate with them and that they’ll remember when they need to make decisions,” Hynes said.

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

A. I’m naturally curious, so if you’re excited and passionate about something, I’d love to hear about it. Traveling through Minnesota is a fun part of the job. If you want to talk about where to get something to eat three hours from here, I’d be interested.

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

A. I was in the Senate for about six years. I got increasingly interested in the drafting of legislation and the legal aspect. When I decided to move on, law school made sense with my interests and as a trade with options to pursue.

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

A. I always have one or two John le Carré novels by my bedside. “Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy” is my favorite one. I can pick that one up at any time and hop in again.

Q. What is a pet peeve of yours?

A. Thursday Night Football. I’m old-fashioned. I like high school football on Friday nights, college football on Saturday, NFL on Sunday. Monday nights I can live with; that’s been around long enough.

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

A. I like working with clients, especially on a piece of legislation. The best thing about being a lobbyist is when they’re voting on a bill you’ve worked on and seeing the green lights go up to get that bill through.

Q. Least favorite?

A. The legislative calendar has a lot of late nights and last-minute changes, which makes it tough when you have kids. I have two daughters, 7 and 9. I don’t like to miss bedtime but you’re going to sometimes.

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

A. I like to cook, and teaching kids how to cook is really fun.

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

A. [The late] Tom Grundhoefer, the general counsel at the League of Minnesota Cities for many years, including when I was there. He was a great attorney and a really good man.

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

A. There’s a misconception that it’s just what you see on TV, wining and dining and money going all over the place. It’s not like that in Minnesota. It’s about building relationships through hard work and trust.

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

A. “My Cousin Vinny” is one of the best. The courtroom scenes are so well done. I still laugh out loud every time I watch that. I’m still also a sucker for “A Few Good Men” — that moment when Tom Cruise realizes that his big gamble to convince Jack Nicholson to admit what he did pays off. It’s a moment that everyone would dream about happening where you just through the sheer art of your cross-examination got someone to say something they didn’t want to.

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