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Christopher Madel launched his firm in March 2017 after 17 years at Robins Kaplan. (Submitted photo)
Christopher Madel launched his firm in March 2017 after 17 years at Robins Kaplan. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Seeking creative solutions to ‘really big problems’

Name: Christopher Madel

Title: Partner, Madel PA

Education: B.A., economics & political science, Macalester College; J.D., University of Michigan Law School

Christopher Madel describes his niche as a partner at Madel PA in Minneapolis as “the really big problem.”

Tackling those problems often involves high-profile investigations, which Madel has done in matters ranging from the Minnesota Vikings’ release of a player to spending related to a college football bowl game.

Madel believes that clients call him about those issues because he thinks more outside the box than others. Many of those calls come as referrals from existing clients.

“I realize that litigation is cumbersome, it’s expensive and it’s public,” Madel said. “A lot of my clients don’t want any of those things. So if we can come up with creative solutions to make problems go away, that’s out of the public eye, people generally get very happy.”

Fulfilling a dream, Madel launched his firm in March 2017 after 17 years at Robins Kaplan. He also has worked as a trial attorney at the U.S. Department of Justice after beginning his career at Winthrop & Weinstine.

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

A: Many people don’t know this, but I’m an introvert, so e-mail and text messages are frequently the best way to start a conversation with me.

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

A: I’ve wanted to be a lawyer since I was 5 years old. I don’t have any lawyers in my family, but my mom tells this story: When I was 5 I used to stand in front seat of her Cutlass Supreme. One day I told her that wanted to sit in back. She went driving down the alley. A teenager pulled out in front of her. We got in a fender bender. I fell down in the backseat but was 100% fine. The teen got out of her car and was crying and apologizing. The teenager’s parents came out of their house to see what happened. I grabbed my neck and started screaming, “Whiplash!” Mom, she is 81 now, still winces because she’s like, “I swear to God those people thought I set you up to do that.” That was the beginning of my legal career. I didn’t get money for it. If my mom was listening to me we probably could have gotten something.

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

A: On vacation recently I read “The Cartel” by Don Winslow.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: People that get on the elevator before everyone exits. Lawyers who don’t stipulate to obvious exhibits coming into evidence.

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

A: It sounds corny, but helping people. I’m kind of dork when comes to the law. I love it. When somebody calls me and says, “Can you help me?” that is about the biggest compliment you can get.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Recording my time and dealing with morons, for example, hearing, “But we’ve never done it that way before…”

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

A: Talking to my kids. We have two daughters, 9 and 7. They’re both really funny, they’re a joy to talk to and learn from.

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

A: My parents (in Waseca). They have been and continue to be among the most supportive people in my life.

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

A: Craig Wildfang. He’s a fantastic attorney and has always been a great friend. When he came to Robins we went together.

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

A: That it’s always glamorous. They don’t see all of the hours spent studying exhibits.

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

A: Albert Brooks’ movie “Defending Your Life.” It changed my life. The trial scenes in that are about as accurate as they get between a prosecutor and defense counsel.

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