Good Wil Hunting

Wil Fluegel, is hard to find, but worth the effort

Published in 2006 Minnesota Super Lawyers — August 2006

Google “Wil Fluegel.”
 
Or “Wilbur Fluegel.” Or “Fluegel Law Office.” The searches turn up some interesting information on the personal injury attorney. He teaches Law School for Legislators at William Mitchell for newly elected officials. He is the current president of the Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association and a member of the Campaign Finance and Public Disclosure Board. He is a certified Civil Trial Specialist by MSBA.
 
But what about a phone number, or an office address?
 
Google “Wilbur Fluegel” and “attorney.” Finally an address and phone number for Fluegel Law Office are listed on FindLaw. How about e-mail? No. Attorney profile? Nope. His own Web site? Nada. Is this guy kidding?
 
“It is not typical of my personality to do that,” Fluegel says, explaining his almost total absence from the Internet, the modern-day attorney’s Rolls-Royce of self-promotion. “Not that we don’t take out ads in the newspaper and say, ‘Hey, we do this too,’ but it hasn’t been our approach to things.”
 
Frankly Fluegel, who received the highest number of votes in this year’s Super Lawyer balloting, doesn’t need to self-promote to drum up business. In addition to his thriving decade-old solo practice, Fluegel continues to consult with his old law firm, Sieben, Grose, Von Holtum & Carey on a regular basis. In fact, many of his clients are other attorneys.
 
“A lot of my work is associating with or assisting other attorneys with their cases, lawyer clients who believe I can help in some way,” Fluegel says.
 
This, Fluegel insists, must be the reason he got so many votes.
 
“If I got a fair number of votes, it may just be because I know a lot of lawyers,” he says with a chuckle.
 
Fluegel’s modesty and interest in law can be traced back to his youth in Mankato.The son of a mechanic and a teacher, higher education was always part of Fluegel’s plan.
 
“Since the ninth grade I figured [law] was a good idea,” Fluegel says. “Education was a great way to expand your horizons and become an advocate for other people.”
 
He attended Mankato State University (now Minnesota State University–Mankato), where he studied political science, and upon graduation became the first in his family to earn a four-year degree. In 1979, fresh out of U of M Law School, he had a year-long judicial clerkship in Rochester and then joined what was then Sieben, Grose & Von Holtum. It was the early years of his legal career in which he formed his interest in personal injury law.
 
“I knew I wanted to help people or make a difference in a positive way,” he says, adding that many people don’t realize how personal injury litigation is at the heart of safety innovations such as standard airbags in cars and safety measures on agricultural products.“At the formative level [liability laws] encourage manufacturers to take a serious look at the safety of their products.”
 
And while he enjoys helping others, Fluegel does admit an ulterior motive to pursuing trial law.
 
“It’s fun,” Fluegel says with a mischievous grin. “When you think of lawyers and television in my day,you think of Perry Mason — a trial lawyer. I am sure there are fine transaction lawyers in taller towers, but to me being a lawyer was going to court.”
 
Court has been kind to Fluegel, though he declines to talk of current and past cases in specifics — not out of modesty this time, but out of respect for the client.
 
“It is a very private matter that most of my clients confront and they are entitled to preserve as much of their privacy as possible,” he says. “Where I have been more comfortable speaking with the media is to alert people about potential harms or hazards.”
 
Last year Fluegel handled 17 appeals, and won reversals on two tough personal injury cases, one of which was only the second reversal of a federal judge in Minnesota the past 10 years.
 
But Fluegel doesn’t want to talk about his successes. He wants to stress the value of an impartial judiciary. He wants people to know how crucial it is that all citizens are treated fairly and have access to the judicial process so the public can “continue to hold the justice system in high regard.” He beams when he talks about his 15-year-old daughter’s dance recitals and success in academics. He’s certain when he speaks about his future.
 
“I will continue doing what I am doing as long as it stays interesting,”Fluegel says.“And I will continue to find areas of public service that are interesting to fill out the balance of the workday.”

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