Help your city council and staff understand what the law means in real life so they can make legally sound decisions.
Why he shows up every day: Being a city attorney allowed me to work directly with the people who make decisions and shape policies in local government, and I’ve enjoyed that type of advocacy.
As a city attorney, I have been able to help communities achieve their goals regarding development and growth. There are communities that I’ve been representing since 2001, and I remember what it would look like when I would drive to their city halls. I drive there now and what I see are some neat housing developments, redeveloped downtowns, etc. To me, what’s neat about that is that I was a part of that process. I helped realize its vision of how it wanted to look. It has been rewarding to work with communities to help them create and sustain strong relationships with the private sector.
On a daily basis I get to work with people who are like-minded in the fact that city employees were also drawn to a career involved with public service. There’s a certain energy in trying to make the communities better by problem solving.
How he got the job (and how you could too): I got a liberal arts degree in biology, but I had a change of heart from science to law during my senior year of college. Then I went directly to law school after undergrad, and from there, I had a couple of internships. One was with a nonprofit environment group, and then I interned in a county attorney’s office and was involved with a lot of land use items.
I always liked the idea of dealing with land use issues. If you really want to work with land use, you’re either going to represent governmental entities or you’re going to work with developers. I found that I liked working with governmental entities. I took a job at Campbell and Knutson in 2001, and I’ve been here ever since representing cities.
What’s the job like? I used to do prosecution, but now what I do is the civil work. I don’t specialize in a topic per se; my specialty is that I represent cities, so I have to understand the nuances and some of the special requirements of working with government. The public process can be time consuming, but I don’t think you represent cities if you don’t like the process.
Are you interested in learning more about a city career? One great way to get advice is to contact someone in your own city or a city nearby. You can ask questions about the job and learn more about training programs that may be available. Connect to city websites and city contact information through the League of Minnesota Cities.