Name: Tony Zeuli
Title: Partner, Merchant & Gould’s Minneapolis office
Education: J.D., DePaul University College of Law; B.A., physics, Hamline University
Merchant & Gould partner Tony Zeuli says volunteering with Children’s Law Center (CLC) to represent foster children in court is a rewarding experience for him and Minneapolis colleagues.
Zeuli, a CLC board member, accepted the nonprofit’s Distinguished Service Award on the firm’s behalf earlier this month.
“It gives them a voice that they otherwise would not have,” Zeuli said of the children and youths who receive free legal representation through CLC.
He applauded the firm’s pro bono volunteers, including Karen Beckman, Eric Chad, Julie Daulton, Rachel Hughey (now a 4th Judicial Circuit judge), Bradley Kuxhausen, Anneliese Mayer, Elisabeth “Bette” Muirhead, Ryan Smith, Rachel Zimmerman Scobie and Tracey Skjeveland.
Zeuli once aspired to be a lawyer or an electrician and has done both. He worked as an electrician after completing a vocational program then earned a physics degree. He completed his legal studies while working at Argonne National Laboratory in the Chicago area, on a team conducting particle physics research.
Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?
A: Just come up to me and say, “Hello.” I enjoy meeting and talking to people. It’s just my personality. If you say hello, and open the door for a conversation, we’re going to have one.
Q: Why did you go to law school?
A: I think I can trace it back maybe the “L.A. Law” TV show. There weren’t lawyers in the family. It was probably about the time that I was finishing up grade school or in middle school. I remember thinking that look like something that I wanted to do.
Q: What books are you reading?
A: I’m reading “White Fragility” by Robyn DiAngelo and listening to the audio book “Project Hail Mary” by Andy Weir — both excellent.
Q: What’s your pet peeve?
A: Overly aggressive drivers. It just seems like our roadways are getting less and less safe. I think that abated a bit during COVID, but I see it coming back and it’s too bad.
Q: Best part of your work?
A: The people and the clients. The people that I work with are the most selfless people. They will do anything for our clients and the firm. And I would say our clients are terrific.
Q: Favorite activity away from work?
A: I have three kids, so the five of us do a lot of outdoor stuff — skiing, hiking, travel. During COVID, I’ve just about finished up a lifetime dream of learning to fly. I have my final practical test at the end of this month. That plus golf has really been taking up my time.
Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?
A: The Lowell Park in downtown [Stillwater]. We could sit out on the deck of the Freight House, which is where my first job was as a dishwasher. This weekend I flew from Osceola down the St. Croix, over the new bridge and into the Lake Elmo airport. I’d never seen Stillwater from the air so that was a neat experience.
Q: Legal figure you most admire?
A: John Gould, a founder of our firm. He was a really impressive guy who came into the office until he passed away over the age of 80. Whenever I meet anyone, whether it’s a judge or another practitioner, you hear nothing but good things about John. When he was in the office, he was more often talking about the volunteer work he was doing or his family. That’s the kind of legacy I’d like to have. I’d like for people to say about me, the things that I heard about John.
Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?
A: People assume that I know something about criminal law, and I know nothing about it. They look at me strangely when I have no idea.
Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?
A: “Boston Legal” was my favorite legal show with the [William] Shatner and James Spader. That was a fun show.
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