Paul Melchert, an iconic figure in the Minnesota legal community and his home, Waconia, is taking down the shingle he hung 60 years ago. Starting in 1959 working with attorney Bill Glaeser, his practice has grown to 19 attorneys and three offices in Waconia, Chaska and Hutchinson. The firm, which will carry on as best it can, and Melchert personally, are known for extensive community involvement and well as dedication to clients.
Melchert received an Outstanding Service to the Profession award from Minnesota Lawyer in 2010. At that time, Melchert said that he wanted to be known as much for community service as for practicing law. Minnesota Lawyer reported that Melchert is active in almost every organization in Waconia. He is a member of the local Lion’s Club, the Waconia Chamber of Commerce, a past president of the Carver County Historical Society, a volunteer with the local Eagle Scouts chapter and works on behalf of a Waconia-area hospital. There is even a Paul Melchert Gazebo in a Waconia park.
It also reported that at least once, Melchert’s name recognition threatened to derail a trial before it started. Mac Willemssen, a partner at the firm, said “During voir dire, the judge asked the panel the usual questions about whether anyone knew, or had business with, the parties and their counsel. When he got to me and my law firm, about half the hands in the jury box went up. Not only did those potential jurors say they knew, or knew of, Paul, two or three offered gratuitous comments about what a good attorney Paul was.
“One of the opposing attorneys in the case immediately approached the bench to ask that the entire courtroom of petit jurors be dismissed and a new group be called. To this, Judge Lenertz simply replied that such a step would not work, since the next group would probably have an equal number who knew or were represented by Paul.”
Melchert then said the reason his reputation is strong is simple. “I’ve never cheated a person a dime. I’ve made mistakes but I can look all my clients in the eye,” he said.