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Steve Plunkett
Steve Plunkett has received the 2021 DRI Tom Segalla Excellence in Education Award. (Submitted photo)

Breaking the Ice: Legal education service builds lawyer’s network

Name: Steve Plunkett

Title: Shareholder, Bassford Remele

Education: B.A., political science, University of Minnesota; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

Steve Plunkett has an attorney friend in almost every city in North America, thanks to his longtime volunteer leadership role with DRI, a membership organization for civil litigators.

The Bassford Remele shareholder now has official recognition of his commitment after receiving the 2021 DRI Tom Segalla Excellence in Education Award at the organization’s annual meeting. He also was elected a national director.

Plunkett, an active DRI member since he began practicing in 1989, served on DRI’s Law Institute, which oversees 35 national legal education seminars, for 13 years. As chair from 2018 to 2020, he helped to lead the institute’s pandemic-related transition to virtual gatherings.

DRI, founded as the Defense Research Institute, counts civil defense and plaintiff’s attorneys and private practice and in-house counsel among its 16,000-plus members.

“Our goal is to educate, and we don’t only educate defense lawyers,” Plunkett said. “We educate lawyers. The better you understand the other side’s thinking and arguments, the better you’re going to be.”

Plunkett focuses his practice on health care and sexual misconduct defense.

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Tell me what you love doing, because it’s important to know what excites and motivates you. That leads to a natural conversation.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: I’ve always loved public speaking. Law, especially a civil practice, gave me that opportunity. Second, I come from a family of lawyers. I was never pressured to do it, but my father was a lawyer, my grandfather was a lawyer. I had a brother and sister who were lawyers and a number of first cousins were lawyers.

Q: What books are you reading?

A: The book I’m working on is “Uncomfortable Conversations with a Black Man.” As part of Bassford’s DEI efforts, the firm purchased the book for everyone.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: Arrogance.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: Helping clients find solutions to their problems. A corollary to that is, this is a profession where you always get to learn. It’s a lot of fun to understand your clients’ businesses and help them improve what they do so that they have less litigation.

Q: Least favorite?

A: The administrative side.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: I’m a runner. I’ve done eight marathons. I do some type of exercise every other day. Two things I’ve picked up with my wife since COVID. We got a tandem bike. We live in south Minneapolis and bike to a local restaurant, have dinner and bike home. The other is pickleball. We’re in pickleball league. I played tennis, growing up, and it’s a natural extension.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: If I claimed that my hometown was Minneapolis, my mother, who is now deceased, would disown me. But I will keep St. Paul as my roots and would go to Can Can Wonderland. It’s the greatest mix of an arcade, performance venue and a bar rolled into one.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: [The late] Rich Krochock. I had been at Rider Bennett before it closed in 2007. Rich was my mentor. He got me started in DRI. He focused on helping you grow and succeed. DRI has the Richard H. Krochock award for lawyers who model Rich in mentoring young lawyers.

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

A: As a civil trial attorney, people think that we’re in the courtroom all the time. What is depicted on TV as a trial is nothing like what happens — in 30 minutes or an hour, the case starts, it’s concluded and there are all these dramatic moments. Unfortunately, courtrooms are much more about procedure and they’re boring.

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

A: “A Few Good Men.” I love the scene of Tom Cruise cross-examining Jack Nicholson. There is some accuracy in that movie of what can happen in a courtroom.


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