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Breaking the Ice: Alumna inducted into law school’s Hall of Fame

Todd Nelson//April 6, 2023//

Kimberly Slay Holmes

Kimberly Slay Holmes

Breaking the Ice: Alumna inducted into law school’s Hall of Fame

Todd Nelson//April 6, 2023//

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Kimberly Slay Holmes, a commercial litigator in Spencer Fane’s Minneapolis office, “never dreamed” she would receive the honor she got last weekend with her induction into the Southern University Law Center Hall of Fame.

Slay Holmes, general counsel and deputy chief of staff to Gov. Mark Dayton, was one of five alumni inducted on Saturday, April 1. The law center, in Baton Rouge, La., has more than 5,000 alumni.

“I never dreamed that it would be me one day,” said Slay Holmes, a 1986 law center alumna who was teaching there when the Hall of Fame was proposed. “But I’m really honored to be part of it.”

Slay Holmes, a Chicago native, previously was assistant commissioner for the Minnesota Department of Revenue and assistant secretary for the Office of Legal Affairs for the Louisiana Department of Revenue, managing civil and criminal tax litigation for each state.

Her government and tax experience, Slay Holmes said, set her apart in her government relations work for clients. She also focuses on health care, state taxation and insurance coverage.

Slay Holmes joined Spencer Fane last June. The firm has 425 attorneys in 22 offices and opened its Minneapolis office in 2019.

Name: Kimberly Slay Holmes

Title: Of counsel, Spencer Fane’s Minneapolis office

Education: B.A., public administration, Drake University; J.D., Southern University Law Center


Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Ask about my kids. I’m so proud of them. Both are college graduates. My youngest one is an architectural designer in New York City and designs all over the world for JD Sports. I sometimes meet her when she’s designing in different places. My son is the marketing director at the University of Minnesota’s Institute of Child Development. He’s worked in school systems, and he loves that area.

Q: Why law school?

A: I was always advocating for people, and I felt like that would fit my personality. Why Southern? Because I hate cold weather. But here I am in Minnesota. I had an aunt that was teaching at Southern University. She was from Chicago and talked about the weather and how wonderful it was to have her school sit on the bluff of the Mississippi. We went down for a school tour and fell in love with the school, its mission school and the weather.

Q: What are you reading?

A: My father, who is deceased, would always say first things first. I was at Barnes & Noble recently and saw this book called “First Things First” by Stephen Covey and it’s fantastic. It’s about organizing your professional life, your family life, everything. And I’m reading “Finding My Voice” by Valerie Jarrett.

Q: Pet peeve?

A: Individuals who do not return phone calls or text messages.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: Because I’m a commercial litigator and represent entities trying to get things done with public agencies, I love learning about their businesses.

Q: Most challenging?

A: Waiting on judges to rule.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: Travel. Playing with my miniature schnauzer.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: I love football, so I will take them to the Vikings stadium. I’m a season ticket holder and cheer on the Vikings whether they have a winning season or not.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: Justice Thurgood Marshall, because was a trailblazer. I try to read everything I can about him and it seems like every time I pick up another book, I’m learning something else about him.

Q: Misconception that others have about your work?

A: People might think that it might be boring to be an attorney, especially when I was a tax attorney. What’s interesting about it is that we get to learn about the businesses of our clients.

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

A: “The Practice.” To me, that was the best legal show. I’ve been searching for it to watch it again and see that it’s on Amazon Prime now. You can purchase the old ones on Amazon Prime. I’m so excited about that. It was a really true drama about how things actually happen. It was a very realistic show.

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