Minneapolis (05-21-04): -- Brent Routman accepted the gavel from outgoing President John Dornik at the Annual Meeting of the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) this week, becoming the 86th president of the association. Officially Routman takes office July 1st, but has already become intricately involved in leading the 8,000 member professional organization. The HCBA is Minnesota’s largest local bar association and also the nation’s ninth largest.
With an undergraduate psychology degree from Ohio University and his law degree from Cleveland Marshall College of Law, Routman serves as the Chief Operating Officer for the Merchant & Gould law firm where he practices primarily in intellectual property matters. He practices and lectures nationally and internationally on patent law and intellectual property issues.
Routman has traveled a variety of roads in his career, with law experience in immigration and litigation before focusing in on his current area of practice. But his professional journey has also included teaching in public school and working as a career counselor in law schools. In addition, Routman also struck out on his own as an entrepreneur. He once owned a Kosher dill pickle company (The Mensch Brothers), and he currently runs another company dealing with fire safety. Later this month he will be introducing the KidSmart fire detector into the market. It is a child-friendly smoke detector that allows a parent to record customized evacuation instructions in the parent's voice into the detector for their children.
In his acceptance speech at the HCBA Annual Meeting, Routman identified some key issues that face the profession. Among his main concerns are the quality of professionalism among lawyers, the steady decline in volunteerism, and the significant issue of court funding. He plans to invest his energies in each area during his presidential year.
He is most excited about a new initiative that is taking shape under his direction: a Leadership Institute. He believes that many members want to make a contribution to the profession and the community but don't know where to start. And when they do contribute, they often find the participation in community leadership less than satisfying. The idea of the Leadership Institute is to groom future leaders for the benefit of the community as a whole, equipping them with the skills needed to assume meaningful roles as directors on boards within the community. The first six-month programming is planned for early 2005. Routman speaks excitedly about the prospects of strengthening volunteerism in a way that will serve both the individual lawyers and the community as a whole.
He understands the heavy load the presidency places on him, but is eager to put his ideas into action.
The Routmans moved to the Twin Cities nine years ago, and now reside in Hopkins where he and Sarah, his wife of 24 years, are raising two daughters.
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Also serving on the 2004-2005 Executive Committee of the Hennepin County Bar Association are:
Brent Routman, President, Merchant Gould
Marlene Garvis, President-Elect, Jardine Logan & O’Brien
Michael Unger, Treasurer, Rider Bennett
Sonia Miller-Van Oort, Secretary Flynn Gaskins & Bennett
John Dornik, Past President, MacKenzie & Dornik
Craig Sandok Chair, New Lawyers Section, The Esquire Group
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