Photo Taken on April 16, 1990 on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court after the arguments in Maislin v. Primary Steel (opinion linked here: https://goo.gl/bX3AS8). From left to right are Brent Primus, Bill Augello, Bruce Hocum and Sam Rubenstein
We recently had the honor of interviewing Brent Wm. Primus of Primus Law Office, P.A. who has been practicing law in Minnesota for about 45 years. His experience is a vivid and inspiring illustration of the essential blend of blind luck and individual initiative that life requires for professional (and personal) success.
ML: Forty-five years of legal practice and all at the same firm?
Brent Primus: Correct. It will be 45 years in September.
ML: I understand it is your firm now (with law partner, Laurel Learmonth) but it was your father’s firm originally. And how long has the firm been in existence?
Brent Primus: Well, my father, Lee B. Primus, moved to Minnesota in 1948 or so. At first, he just had a few insurance company clients where he did insurance defense work, and then at some point in the early fifties he went out on his own. He first officed in the Wesley Temple building, which is now part of the convention center next to Wesley Church. When I was quite little, I remember going there and seeing — he was actually an early innovator — he had a dictaphone system that used wax-coated cylinders. As he dictated, the cylinders would turn and it worked like a lathe. There’d be a blade peeling off a thin layer of plastic waxy material, which, as a young boy, intrigued me no end.
He later moved to the First National Bank building, but not the new edifice there now, and then by the mid-50’s he landed in what was then known as the Midland Bank Building where the firm stayed until 2007 when we moved across the street to the Tri-Tech Building.
ML: I note in your C.V. that you began your legal career investigating auto accidents while still in high school?
Brent Primus: You know, high school summers, like if someone’s family runs a grocery store or a dry cleaner, they help out there. In my case, my dad had a law office and by that time he was on his own doing plaintiff’s work, so I’d take the Polaroid camera, which in its day was high-tech, and go out to the accident scene and take various pictures from various angles all over town. And I’d also try to see if there were any witnesses. I’d knock on a few doors and see if someone had seen the accident.
ML: Did you go to college with the intention of becoming a lawyer?
Brent Primus: No, not at all really. In fact, during college, I decided not to be a lawyer, but then later that changed, of course.