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In college, Peter Brehm earned All-America honors in track and field. (Submitted photo)
In college, Peter Brehm earned All-America honors in track and field. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Business practice focuses on valuations

Name: Peter Brehm

Title: Owner/attorney, Business Law Center

Education: B.A., political science, North Dakota State University; J.D., LL.M., taxation, William Mitchell College of Law

Peter Brehm, small business and tax attorney at Business Law Center in Bloomington, says the Lunds & Byerlys case exemplifies why he became a certified business valuation appraiser.

Expert valuations diverged widely on the stake that one of four siblings sought to cash out of the family-owned supermarket chain — $80 million versus $21 million.

“The value piece is the most important information to have when you’re advising a shareholder how much their shares are worth,” said Brehm, who had no role in the siblings’ case. Hiring an appraiser “is kicking a really important can down a really dark road.”

In college, Brehm earned All-America honors in track and field for the 1,500 meter run at North Dakota State University.

“I don’t know that I would have gone to law school if I hadn’t done that,” Brehm said.

Brehm has taught legal writing at Mitchell Hamline School of Law for 14 years.

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

A: Ask me about my son. Or quantum mechanics. I’m absolutely fascinated by quantum mechanics.

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

A: I went to grad school for history. I wanted to be a history professor. After my first semester my adviser said there were no jobs. I was left saying, “What do I like doing? What can I do?” My sister had started law school the year before. I think my mother had graduated from law school a year or two before that. I sat in my sister’s law school class at William Mitchell and fell in love with it.

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

A: “Pre-Suasion,” by Robert Cialdini, about how to persuade people before you ask the question. It’s changed the way I negotiate with opposing counsel and the way I teach.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: Lateness. The baseline of professionalism is being timely.

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

A: I love helping clients solve their own problems. I like educating them so that they can solve their own problems. When they can make informed decisions and I can get them where they want to be, I love this job.

Q: Least favorite?

A: The “Legal Zoom-ification” of the law practice. When I have a client relationship where they think all I do is generate forms, those are difficult relationships.

Q: What are favorite activities outside your job?

A: My two favorite things are both with my son. Taking random road trips where he picks a direction, we start driving and then turn randomly. And going to concerts with him. We saw the Who most recently. We saw Paul Simon and Neil Young. He’s only 12, but it’s great fun.

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

A: I grew up in Minnetonka. Most people want to see the lake. I could take them to Excelsior, but if they want the real Minnetonka flavor I’d take them to Snuffy’s Malt Shop.

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

A: Professor Dan Kleinberger from Mitchell Hamline, a phenomenal educator, but he’s also in the closely held arena of Minnesota law as close to an indispensable voice as we have.

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

A: That people think that lawyers are primarily doing this job to make money. The people that I run across in my practice genuinely put their clients’ interests before their own financial interests.

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

A: Gregory Peck in “To Kill a Mockingbird.” Beyond the social relevance of it, it’s a fantastic portrayal of the tensions between a lawyer’s obligations to the court, to his client and to his kids.

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