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Meet Michael Boulette: 2021-2022 HCBA Secretary

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The HCBA welcomes Michael Boulette to membership on its executive committee for the 2021-22 bar year. On July 1st, Boulette was introduced to the association’s officer ranks as secretary, beginning a five-year leadership track that will have him serve as president for the 2024-25 bar year. Boulette is a graduate of the University of St. Thomas School of Law. He is a partner at Taft Stettinius & Hollister, where he practices family law.


Why did you become a lawyer?

Mostly by accident. I was one of those loud, bossy kids that everyone said, “you should grow up to be a lawyer,” because they didn’t really appreciate most of what lawyers actually do. So I got a philosophy degree and then found that I really didn’t know what to do for work, so, hey, more school right? When I talk to law students, I like to highlight that I went to law school for the worst possible reason—no reason at all—and have still found a profession I’m passionate about. Pretty lucky.


What is your favorite part about your job?

Solving hard problems. You’ve heard the line from Anna Karenina, “…every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.” Right. Which means there’s never a pat legal answer for clients with family law problems. Statutes and case law just can’t begin to cover all the different situations people find themselves in. I love working on cases where there isn’t an answer, or better yet where the obvious answer isn’t the right one and we have to dig deeper. 


How did you get involved with the bar associations?

My very first boss encouraged me to get involved with the bar. I had no idea where to start so I showed up at an MSBA new lawyers meeting. None of it made any sense to me, but the people were nice, so I came back the next month, and the next. By the end of the bar year, I got up the gumption to ask to be the publications committee co-chair the following year. It all just kind of snowballed from there.


What are you most excited about with joining the HCBA leadership track?

This is a really transformative time for the Bar. We’re taking on huge issues from racial justice to the rule of law to attorney wellness. Big changes are coming to the practice, business, and profession of law and the HCBA is right in the middle of all of it. What’s not to be excited about? 


You’ve been an advocate for better work/life balance in the legal community, what inspired you to talk about this issue more? 

For most of my adolescent and adult life I’ve struggled with depression and anxiety. In the early years of my practice, I thought that the pain I felt from overwork or sitting with clients through their own suffering meant I was a bad lawyer. I felt like struggling with my mental health was proof I was doing the job wrong. I can’t pretend that I’m entirely past that. But I want to be sure that the lawyers coming up behind me know that they’re not alone. Other folks have had these same feelings, the same stress, the same doubts—and that doesn’t make us bad lawyers, it makes us human. 


What’s been the highlight of quarantine/working from home for you?

Probably my oral argument before the Minnesota Supreme Court in November. All of our kids were home that day, and our nanny was running late. That morning, my one-year-old was crying, the three-year-old was singing from Frozen loudly, and the six-year-old needed to Zoom into online school. Just before I logged in, I heard my wife say to our oldest, “Make sure your sister stays right here. If your teacher [for distance learning] asks why she’s on the screen you can say that your Papa has to argue at the Minnesota Supreme Court and Mama has to put the baby to bed.”

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