Name: Inti Martínez-Alemán
Title: Attorney, Ceiba Fôrte Law Firm
Education: Law degree (abogado), Universidad Tecnológica Centroamericana (UNITEC); Tegucigalpa, Honduras; B.A., political science and philosophy, Houghton College; J.D., Mitchell Hamline School of Law
Inti Martínez-Alemán’s, founder of Ceiba Fôrte Law Firm in St. Paul, is a third-generation attorney whose family began practicing law six decades ago in Central America.
His paternal grandfather and his late mother were well-known lawyers in El Salvador and Honduras, respectively, and Martínez-Alemán practiced in Honduras before moving to this country.
For all that history, Martínez-Alemán’s enthusiastic use of technology to advance innovation in the profession and reassure Hispanic clients is what earned him a Hennepin County Bar Association 2021 Excellence Award.
“Where I see a struggle, I like to see how to address the struggle,” Martínez-Alemán said.
For example, Martínez-Alemán commissioned a virtual reality courtroom experience to help clients understand before a trial or hearing where to sit and how to move around in court.
Martínez-Alemán practices only business, civil and employment law. He opened his St. Paul office in 2016 and one near Buffalo, New York, in 2017.
Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?
A: I absolutely like talking about food and drink, especially the Minnesota food and drink scene. Talk to me about that and you got me going or when I hear people talking about that, I have to chime in.
Q: Why did you go to law school?
A: Since I was maybe 6 or 7 years old, my mother would take me to court with her for work. She was a trial lawyer in Honduras and litigated hundreds of cases. I would go to court with her in the summertime; that was like my vacation time. I loved hanging out with the judges and the clerks. Her ability to speak for others, that just comes naturally to me. From the court system, it’s being a lawyer and being able to have access to “justice” and seeing the intricacy, seeing the results, sometimes positive, sometimes negative, but a result, and impacting someone’s life that way.
Q: What books are you reading?
A: I just finished Joe Biden’s “Promises to Keep.” I’m not like a Biden lover by any means, but he’s our president so let’s see who this man is. I’m reading “Principles” by Ray Dalio and “The Game Changing Attorney” by Michael Mogill.
Q: What’s your pet peeve?
A: People driving in the left lane very slowly.
Q: Best part of your work?
A: One is serving an underrepresented community, like the Hispanic community, while also making money. The other is I intentionally designed my office setup to be enjoyable. I look forward to coming here. I look forward to having clients here because they really like coming to the office.
Q: Least favorite?
A: Dealing with people who lie. Or people who are too prideful to admit their mistakes.
Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?
A: I grew up in Tegucigalpa, the capital of Honduras, but I’d take them to three spots in my country. The Bay Islands, three small islands in the Caribbean that are absolutely gorgeous. Copan in western Honduras, which was the Athens of the Maya culture. La Ceiba, a town on the Caribbean coast that is my favorite town in the country.
Q: Legal figure you most admire?
A: My late mother, who at the time I didn’t appreciate as much for her work, but you’re a kid and you don’t see her as a lawyer. Here in Minnesota, there are a lot of impressive lawyers, but I’ll name two: Joshua Williams and Ashwin Madia, whom I admire and look up to. Often, they mentor me and occasionally we co-counsel cases together. They’re in the Twin Cities and they’re employment/civil rights lawyers.
Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?
A: One hundred percent of people think I’m an immigration lawyer. Even when I tell them the areas of law I practice, and I could tell them numerous times. Just because I’m Hispanic doesn’t mean I need to, that I must practice immigration law.
Q: Favorite novel, movie or TV show about lawyers?
A: “My Cousin Vinny.” I could watch that so many times.
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