We are excited about our July Profile of Jeff Oistad! Jeff is in our St. Cloud office and has been practicing law since 1985. Watch Jeff’s video and read his attorney profile and get to know him a little more.
What has been your most memorable experience/case over the years?
Jeff: This is my 30th year of helping injured people, so there have been lots of memorable and interesting cases and experiences along the way. One that comes to mind is a triple murder/dram shop case that I was involved in a number of years ago. I was representing the family of a young woman who had been tragically murdered, and we were taking the deposition of the convicted murderer in Stillwater, where he was serving a life sentence. At the conclusion of the first day of his testimony, one of the lawyers told the less than cooperative witness that we would be coming back to talk with him further.
“It’s like writing a book. We’ve got to get all the details,” he told him. “I’ve already been written about in a book,” the 70ish murderer said. I asked him more about that, and he claimed that his high school teacher, Jon Hassler, based a character on him in this first novel, Staggerford. I have always been a big Hassler fan, so the next week I went to see Mr. Hassler speak at Macalester College, and waited around until after his book reading. I then asked him who he based the character of Jeff Norquist on, and without missing a beat he named the murderer we had been questioning. It turns out he had been following the murder case in the papers, and I subsequently shared a copy of the deposition with him. He worked the tragedy into his storyline about the same character in a later novel. The card that Mr. Hassler sent me asking for help with further information is still on my bookshelf. He’s since passed away, but I greatly enjoyed meeting him and still rank him as one of my favorite authors. Helping the family of that young victim through a very hard time was even more rewarding.
What is the most rewarding part of the work you’ve been doing over the years?
Jeff: Helping people when they are at what is often their most vulnerable time is the part of being a lawyer that I like the best. Unfortunately, in our world today people are too often living close to the economic edge, and when unforeseen injuries occur their lives are totally disrupted. Making a difference for them, helping them get back on their feet, is my favorite part of this profession.
What would you say to someone who is unsure about hiring at attorney?
Jeff: After 30 years, I’ve encountered very few situations where an injured victim can navigate the morass of the insurance world without being victimized all over again. There are just too many pitfalls where they can be taken advantage of to not enlist the help of an experienced lawyer who specializes in helping personal injury victims. And good lawyers, like my partners, are happy to talk to them about those dangers without charging them a dime for that initial conference. Everyone hurt as the result of a wrongdoer’s actions owes it to themselves to take advantage of at least that free visit, to get a feel for what they are up against.
If you are unsure about hiring at attorney, call Meshbesher & Spence, at (888) 728-9879 for a free case evaluation.
What are some of your favorite hobbies?
Jeff: I’ve very involved in leadership at my church, Calvary Community Church in St. Cloud. Faith is the most important part of life for me and, I’m blessed to say, for my family. I’ve had the pleasure of following my kids all over the country as they’ve played sports. Now I love spending every minute I can with my 5 [soon to be 6] grandkids. I also enjoy books (like all of those by Jon Hassler), golf (as much as possible with my wife, who regularly beats me), and fly fishing the Big Horn River in Montana.
What keeps you interested in the law after all these years?
Jeff: Everyday is different. After being in practice for as long as I have, I often think I’ve seen it all. Then the next day rolls around, and an entirely new set of facts and circumstances arrives. There are an amazing number of different ways that people can negligently injure someone else, and an amazing number of different kinds of injuries that people can be forced to deal with. I could tell you stories for hours. Every year when I go fly fishing with one friend, he starts the long drive by asking to hear the craziest story from the year before. I’ve never not had an interesting tale to share with him. That makes this kind of practice an adventure.
What advice would you give a young lawyer and what do you wish you knew when you started practicing?
Jeff: Be a servant. Have a servant’s heart. People you represent, no matter how sophisticated they are or how simple they seem, can tell if you really care about them. So care. Go the extra mile. Make their life better, even in the tough circumstances they are in. I’ve been blessed to have had mentors who shared that with me early and often, through their words and actions. Bob Holmen, Ron Meshbesher, Denny Johnson, to name a few. I see that in my partners all the time. That’s the best advice I can think of to share with a young lawyer in our practice. Ours is a service industry, and being a caring servant will take a young lawyer far.
What would you be doing if you weren’t a lawyer?
Jeff: My Dad was a coach and history teacher. My son is a coach and history teacher. I was a history major in college and have continued to love the study of history ever since. I especially love learning more about the Civil War and the American West. As a result, I’ve read a great deal about George Custer, who was prominent in both areas. The Little Big Horn Battlefield site is near where I go fishing every year, and I can’t go there without being awestruck by the thought of the lives that were changed by that event. I had the same feeling at Gettysburg, standing where the First Minnesota Volunteers started their amazing charge. So if I wasn’t a lawyer, I think I’d love being a history teacher or professor.