August 2020

Colleague Corner: Meet Kyle Willems

'Being an advocate for others was extremely appealing'

Kyle-Willems-400KYLE WILLEMS is a litigation attorney with the law firm Bassford Remele. He practices tort, business, and construction litigation. He received his undergraduate degree from the University of Minnesota and his JD from the University of St. Thomas School of Law. Mr. Willems was recently elected chair of the MSBA’s New Lawyers Section. He has been a member of the section since he graduated law school and has held various positions, including social committee co-chair, publications committee co-chair, treasurer, and vice-chair.

Why did you go to law school?

I always had a fascination with the practice of law, but it wasn’t until I saw the movie A Civil Action that I knew I wanted to be a litigator. The idea of making a career out of being an advocate for others was extremely appealing. Looking back 10 years later I’m happy to report that I love litigating as much as I thought I would.

What’s it been like for you practicing in the pandemic?

Like many of us, I’ve been mostly working from home. Thankfully, modern technology has made the transition to working from home fairly easy. Further, the courts and opposing counsel’s willingness to have things like depositions and hearings remotely has been extremely helpful. However, I miss the energy of downtown Minneapolis in the summer and being able to interact in person with my colleagues at Bassford Remele. I also miss being in the courtroom. 

Congratulations on your election as chair of the New Lawyers Section for 2020-21. Tell us a little about the section’s plans for the year. 

Thank you. The section doesn’t kick into gear until August, but we’ve already been hard at work to address the impact the pandemic is having on law students and recent graduates. I anticipate there will be broad consensus that we continue to put our resources toward helping the members most affected by the pandemic. 

We also expanded our diversity committee and are putting together a new pro bono initiative that better connects lawyers with pro bono needs. This is an effort I’m particularly excited about.

One concern I have is the pandemic’s impact on our ability to remain a place for students and new lawyers to feel comfortable networking and getting a foothold in the legal community. We’re going to have to get creative with virtual social engagements and other things. Fortunately our social committee is more than up to the task of handling this problem.

You’ve been actively involved in volunteering at the MSBA for a few years now. How does bar membership serve you in your career?

The MSBA has been a great resource and I’ve made a lot of great friendships through it. First and foremost, I’ve enjoyed participating in various sections to advocate for issues I think are important. I’ve also used CLEs and the MSBA’s various legal research tools, and I enjoy the networking events the MSBA puts on. 

What’s the best professional advice you ever received?

A law school professor use to hammer home the point that your reputation an attorney is everything. As I continue to grow in my career, I realize truer words have never been spoken. The legal community is small and people are not quick to forget when an attorney makes bad-faith arguments, acts unethically, or is a jerk. 

How do you like to spend your time when you’re not working?

I’m currently training for the Twin Cities “virtual” marathon. It will be my first marathon, and the training is taking up a good amount of time. I also enjoy going up north, playing hockey, and pretty much anything else I can do outdoors. 

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