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Landon Ascheman

Breaking the Ice: MSBA award recipient cites pro bono service

Name: Landon Ascheman

Title: Owner, Ascheman Law

Education: B.A., philosophy, sociology, Minnesota State University-Moorhead; J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Private criminal defense attorney Landon Ascheman, recipient of this year’s Minnesota State Bar Association Professional Excellence Award, attributes the honor to his extensive pro bono service and encouraging more attorneys to volunteer.

He has done pro bono service through Mitchell Hamline School of Law’s Self-Help Clinic, Minnesota Adult & Teen Challenge, where he launched a legal clinic, and occasional pro bono clinics.

“My parents really raised me to always try to leave things better than you found them,” said Ascheman, Hennepin County Bar Association president-elect.

That’s why Ascheman worked as a lifeguard in high school, went to law school and served as an intelligence specialist for the U.S. Navy and the Minnesota Army National Guard. Ascheman is a veteran of the war in Afghanistan.

An avid swimmer, Ascheman has completed swims of 27 and 36 miles and is the first Minnesotan to complete the Ice Mile swim under International Ice Swimming Association rules.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: I have two young kids and love swimming. I also love board games. It’s great if you have something to share as well.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: To help the community. I thought being a lawyer would be a good way to do it, especially in criminal law, where you can try to help society stay on track and help improve the lives of others. I love understanding rules and understanding laws and figuring out how they apply together. Between those two aspects, law school just made sense.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: Minnesota writer Dakota Krout writes fantasy novels very rapidly but can’t write them rapidly enough for me.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: When people don’t realize that we’re all in this together.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: The opportunity to have somebody get back on the right track. I’ve had clients that we’ve been able to get them jobs, to get them housing, to keep things off their record that would otherwise ruin their opportunities. We’ve been able to get people into treatment when they need it, to get people programming so they can avoid the drugs or get the job or do what they need to do to try to get life underneath them and not crushing them. That’s an absolute joy.

Q: Least favorite?

A: When you just can’t help. When there’s nothing you can do to help somebody or to help a situation.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: Definitely swimming. Spending time with my two wonderful kids. Swimming with my kids. Being able to swim is such a mental health and wellness activity and I would spend all day doing it if it worked that way.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: I’ve worked with a lot of attorneys and for a lot of attorneys who’ve done so much. A lot of my volunteer work is inspired by them, seeing people go the extra mile for their clients, whether they’re working for the state, for individual clients or in volunteer work and what they put in, especially those that I’ve worked for who have gone on to sit on the bench and carry that over to their role as a judge and try to do what they can to make the community better.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: That attorneys are just in it for the money. Some people that are in anything for the money. But the people I know, that I work with don’t become attorneys and don’t do the job for the money. We do it for the most part because we want to help people. We love changing the world around us and, hopefully, changing it for the better.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: The last really good attorney movie that I think I’ve seen was “Notorious RBG.”

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