Minnesota American Indian Bar Association president Casey Matthiesen is leading efforts to expand the organization’s scholarship program.
MAIBA last year raised a record of nearly $30,000 for scholarships, Matthiesen said. A Robins Kaplan associate, Matthiesen won re-election as MAIBA president in September.
Matthiesen hopes to extend MAIBA scholarships, which go to second- and third-year law students, to first-year students, Matthiesen said.
“I wouldn’t have made it through law school, honestly, without the support of MAIBA,” Matthiesen said. “I was a scholarship recipient, and that just made me want to pay it forward.”
With MAIBA’s support, Matthiesen also embraced her Native American heritage. She was adopted from the Yankton Sioux Reservation in South Dakota and grew up with adoptive parents on a southwest Minnesota farm. She since has become an enrolled member of the Yankton Sioux Tribe.
Matthiesen’s practice areas include working with Robins Kaplan’s American Indian Law and Policy group and handling plaintiff’s personal injury and medical malpractice cases.
Name: Casey Matthiesen
Title: president, Minnesota American Indian Bar Association; associate, Robins Kaplan
Education: B.A., political science and criminal justice., University of South Dakota; J.D., University of St. Thomas School of Law
Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?
A: Just wave. Say hi. I’m very extroverted. I will probably approach you. I will talk about anything and everything with anybody anywhere.
Q: Why did you go to law school?
A: Ever since I was too young to know what a lawyer was, I did know that I had an adoption lawyer, knowing that I was adopted and having two very supportive and amazing parents who adopted me, who always wanted me to know that and be proud of that. I associated the idea of a lawyer with the adoption lawyer who made it possible for the three of us to be a family. As I got older and learned that the law embodies a lot more than that, I found myself coming back to that path.
Q: What books are you reading?
A: I read a lot of autobiographies. Most recently, I read “Mrs. Escobar, My Life with Pablo,” written by Pablo Escobar’s wife, Victoria Henao. I read “The Dirt” by Mötley Crüe. It’s fascinating to get perspectives of different periods of history, whether it be the rock ages or the cartels.
Q: What’s your pet peeve?
A: The first one is pineapple on pizza. The second is the comment, “You look tired.”
Q: Best part of your work?
A: Having a license, a literal license to be able to wake up and do the right thing, and to hopefully make an impact in somebody’s life.
Q: Most challenging?
A: As a younger lawyer, it’s navigating expectations and the pressure of not disappointing anyone. As a Type A person, it’s challenging sometimes to admit that I need help or I’m not finding the answer. This is a practice of law, and not being able to master something is the most challenging, because it can push you, it can be exhausting. It’s important to keep your mental health and have that balance.
Q: Favorite activity away from work?
A: I’m a certified Yoga Sculpt instructor. I love doing yoga. I paint with acrylics; my artistry is kind of my therapy. I take a lot of weekend trips to visit friends.
Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?
A: To my home, the farm. My parents’ farm is about 20 miles south of Pipestone. I would take them in the John Deere tractor and show them what it was like growing up on a farm.
Q: Legal figure you most admire?
A: Michael Roche. He’s a lawyer who taught a variety of legal-based courses. The one particularly that influenced me was “Justice and Compassion.” Having somebody teach the law through compassion and lived experiences still affects how I handle certain situations and approach clients of different backgrounds.
Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?
A: “Legally Blonde.” I have a more flamboyant personality. I express my artistic qualities by, right now at least, having pretty bright red hair. I like that Elle Woods doesn’t compromise her values.