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Brian Flakne
Brian Flakne

In-House Counsel 2023: Brian Flakne

Private Company with annual revenues up to $500M

Brian Flakne, general counsel at Lupe Development, didn’t see himself entering real estate law.

“It was my worst class in law school and where I got my only C,” he said. “I never thought this is what I would end up doing.”

Instead, Flakne began a litigation practice. But he soon kept meeting clients who needed his services because their real estate transitions weren’t handled correctly upfront. “I thought, ‘There’s got to be a better way to do this,’” he remembers.

Flakne has now been the general counsel for Lupe Development for 25 years. When asked why he chose in-house counsel work, Flakne said, “It sounds a lot better than being outhouse counsel!” More seriously, he said, “As a litigator, you’re almost always reacting to a problem, but as in-house counsel, I can pre-plan and mitigate risk.”

With Lupe Development, Flakne has helped the company build more than 1,500 units in the Twin Cities, primarily in the affordable housing sector. “Providing low-cost housing to people that meet certain economic criteria is one of the most important needs in the area,” he says.

Flakne also maintains a private practice, Flakne Law Offices, which primarily does criminal defense and family law. “It’s like having a foot in two canoes and trying not to tip in the water,” Flakne laughed. “But while real estate development is more lucrative, I really enjoy litigation.”

In addition to his dedication to affordable housing, Flakne helped create a citizen initiative to build an indoor soccer facility for local children. He also enjoys teaching Bible study and is an active member of Torske Klubben, a Norwegian fellowship club.

Flakne is most passionate about giving back to Minneapolis. “This is the community I grew up in, and my family has been serving it for over 100 years now,” Flakne says. “Creating affordable housing is a way to make the city better.”

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