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When high-profile clients speak, Minnesota Super Lawyer Lee Hutton listens

Lee Hutton (Photo provided by Barnes & Thornburg LLP)

As a seasoned trial attorney, Lee Hutton represents clients in a variety of complex matters involving construction, commercial and employment litigation. He also defends corporations and individuals in high-stakes real estate, entertainment law and fraud litigation matters. Hutton’s clients range from individuals to Fortune 500 companies.

Since 2014, Hutton has been recognized on the Minnesota Super Lawyers list and he was named on the Rising Stars list in the 2008-2013 editions. In 2010, he was selected as an Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer for his successful trial advocacy in a complex real estate matter.

Hutton’s experience includes sports concussion cases, rights of publicity cases, and an in depth understanding of sports bylaws and policies in professional and college sports. He is also known for his representation of individual sports figures such as Kris Humphries in his high-profile divorce case from reality television star Kim Kardashian.

Notably, Hutton is an experienced litigator who focuses on high-stakes litigation and further advises clients on various aspects of brand protection and extortion concerns. In addition, he provides counsel on complex litigation matters related to defense of corporations and individuals.

In the area of sports and entertainment law, Hutton represents celebrities, athletes and coaches in endorsement negotiations, player performance contracts and business transactions and advises on brand protection and extortion threats. His client list contains professional, amateur, Paralympic and Olympic athletes, entertainers, musicians and celebrities. Hutton offers a holistic approach to representation in order to maximize consistency, reliability and efficiency for clients who often call on him to serve as general counsel.

Hutton is a frequent guest lecturer and regularly called on to provide media analysis on entertainment, sports and litigation topics.

Active in the community, Hutton regularly assists non-profit organizations in pro bono matters and is a board member for The Griffin Gives Foundation. He also coaches youth football through the Lake Minnetonka Athletic Association. Hutton is a member of the Hennepin County Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association and Twin Cities Diversity in Practice.

In 2002, Hutton earned his J.D. from the William Mitchell College of Law. In 1999, he earned his B.A. from the University of Minnesota.

Hutton is admitted to practice in the states of Minnesota and New York and before the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota.

Read his interview below.

Tell me a bit about yourself. What attracted you to the legal profession?
I was born in San Antonio, Texas. My father and mother were married young, but married for 46 years until my father passed away this year. My father became a urologist and my mother a registered nurse. They were both the first in their family to attend college.

I came to Minnesota in 1994 to attend the University of Minnesota on a football scholarship. After putting NFL dreams aside, I enrolled in William Mitchell College of Law, a private law school in St. Paul.

Initially, I wanted to become a doctor. However, my parents discouraged those aspirations because “the practice of medicine and giving quality care has been compromised.”

I became interested in the law due to living through historical events such as the Rodney King verdict, OJ Simpson trial, Oliver North hearings, and other landmark cases. I was quick to notice that the courtroom was “absent of color.”

I committed myself to change the landscape. Thus, I entered law school.

I became a partner in 2006 after six years of practice. Now, I am a partner in the Minneapolis office of Barnes & Thornburg LLP. I am also litigation chair for the Minneapolis office.

I am a member of the Litigation Department and the Entertainment, Media and Sports Practice Group. Hutton concentrates his practice on complex commercial trial litigation, products liability, construction, employment and entertainment law.

When did you first develop an interest in law and justice?
I truly believe an advocate lives within us all. I developed an interest in the law after advocating for student-athletes at the University of Minnesota when I was a football player on campus. In the capacity as student-athlete president, I initiated and developed policy initiatives that protected the right of student-athletes.

How well did your college/university prepare you for the legal profession?
Life prepared me for the legal profession. To become a good trial lawyer, you must also become a cultural anthropologist.

Describe your legal experiences. What have been some of your most significant moments being a lawyer?
Kardashian v. Humphries; Puff Daddy Superbowl Concert – working with legends; Nomadic Entertainment lawsuit and BarMaid Lawsuit.

Define a legal mind.
A legal mind is one that would rather be opened by wonder than one closed by belief.

Describe your thoughts on legal accountability and justice.
The lack of diversity in the legal profession is troubling. Essentially, diversity is important to the legitimacy of the legal profession. Unfortunately, there is more work needed. Without diverse individuals or ideas, legal accountability and justice have suffered.

What is your philosophy on the legal justice system?
My father always said that “caring is preparing.” The legal profession allows the attorney to shape the destiny of an individual, community, and the world. It’s a responsibility that I take seriously.

What advice would you offer a law student just beginning his/her career?
Each individual is faced with a unique set of circumstances that will eventually establish your final status in life. As an attorney, you will be that circumstance for someone. To care is to prepare.

How do you incorporate technology into your law practice? 
I use technology to assist in storytelling for the jury. Today, we absorb lots of information in 15-second sound bites. In essence, I have learned to present my case in 140 characters.

How has technology affected your delivery of services?
Technology has adapted our way of listening and communicating. As such, I constantly adapt to present evidence to the jury.

Describe your favorite role model experience.
I was told by an attorney when I was a law student that as a first year attorney you must act like a third year and as a third year you must act like a fifth year and as a fifth year act like a partner. This advice has always stayed with me.

Tell me who you’d like to emulate. Who are your role models?
I would like to emulate my father’s ability to overcome life’s obstacles with grace.

I would like to emulate my mother’s heart to unselfishly give your all unconditionally to those you love.

I would like to emulate my wife’s ability to adapt.

I would like to emulate my children’s innocence to find the good in everyone and to forgive and love.

My family without question has been my heroes in life.