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Christopher W. Madel, Madel PA
Christopher W. Madel, Madel PA

The POWER 30: Christopher W. Madel

More than five years after opening his own law firm with some colleagues, Christopher Madel is still having a ball. “I still pinch myself,” he said. “Every day is pure adventure.”

Madel’s practice is diverse. His current caseload includes breach of a confidentiality agreement, a divorce trial with spousal-battery allegations, a stock-grant trial, and a trial against opioid distributors and pharmacies in Georgia. He’s waiting for a decision in a large minority-shareholder case before Judge Edward Wahl, which he expects around December.

While many lawyers strive to specialize, Madel runs the opposite direction. “I love trials, and I don’t think you can be an effective trial lawyer by doing the same thing over and over again. And even if you could, I’d get bored doing just minority-shareholder or personal-injury cases.”

By his own admission, Madel is currently “obsessed” with a federal criminal bid-rigging case involving contracts with western-suburb schools. The case involves one alleged conspirator — a person whose own attorney described as having a poor memory, an incomplete recollection of “certain topics,” and an inability to read above a sixth-grade level. “Our client is a good man who did exactly what the schools asked of him,” Madel said. Because Madel’s team stated their intent to call a judge as a witness, the entire District of Minnesota’s bench has recused. “We’re looking forward to that trial. A lot,” he said.

Madel has several suggestions for changes in the law, reflecting his wide-ranging practice. He would get rid of noncompete agreements, with a possible exception for situations involving confidential information, and he would update antitrust laws to acknowledge that the internet exists. “And I will never understand why a civil litigant gets more discovery than a criminal defendant does,” he said.

Many lawyers would find it difficult to practice in disparate areas, as Madel does, but he loves it. “I don’t think I can ever retire. A case comes in that’s fascinating, I just have to do it. I don’t understand why everyone doesn’t want to be a lawyer.”