Almost 50 years in law: Austin attorney Baudler retires

Published 11:00 am Friday, January 17, 2014

Bryan Baudler is retiring from the Baudler, Maus, Forman, Kritzer & Wagner law office after almost 50 years. He technically retired at the end of 2013, but still works part-time. -- Trey Mewes

Bryan Baudler is retiring from the Baudler, Maus, Forman, Kritzer & Wagner law office after almost 50 years. He technically retired at the end of 2013, but still works part-time. — Trey Mewes

Bryan Baudler just can’t stay away from the office.

The longtime Austin lawyer allegedly retired at the end of 2013. Yet Tom Baudler, Bryan’s cousin, saw him at the Baudler, Maus, Forman, Kritzer & Wagner law office on Jan. 2.

“I asked him, ‘How’s retirement?’ and he told me, ‘Well, I’ve got on a sweater,’” Tom said with a laugh.

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Bryan may not be gone from the firm — he’s more accurately scaling back his hours as opposed to outright retirement — but he’s determined to spend more time with his wife and family after almost 50 years practicing law in Austin.

“I just felt like it was time,” he said. “I would like to be able to do some things like go traveling more with my wife.”

The decision to retire didn’t come easy for Bryan, who only considered scaling back his work schedule over the past year. But the lifelong Austin resident is ready to spend more time sightseeing or visiting his children across the U.S.

Bryan’s family has long been a presence in the area’s legal community. Bryan’s grandfather started the Baudler Law Office in 1908, and Bryan’s father, William, came on board in the 1930s. Bryan was born and grew up in Austin, where he played football and basketball for Austin High School. Some people still remember Bryan as the starting forward for the 1958 state championship basketball team, as well as the starting quarterback on the high school football team.

Bryan went to the University of Minnesota from 1958 to 1964, where he took advantage of an accelerated learning program to earn his bachelor’s degree in 1963 and his law degree in 1964. From there, he came back to Austin to work at the Baudler Law Office.

“It just seemed like a logical next step to come here,” Bryan said. “I know my father wanted it. He never said it in so many words, but I could feel that he wanted someone to come here. He was very busy, so he could use the extra hand.”

From 1964 on, Bryan began a career primarily as a litigation attorney, though he’s done a variety of legal work depending on the office’s need. A large part of Bryan’s work was in personal injury cases, at first representing victims of car crashes and later insurance companies.

“It was really what the firm needed at the time,” he said. “My dad had a large litigation practice and needed a little help. So I became a litigation attorney almost from the get-go.”

Bryan has since focused more on what he calls desk practice — legal services like estate planning and real estate deals, among others. Yet his experience and professional demeanor have stood out over the years.

“He is the consummate professional,” Tom said. “Sometimes lawyers, they think they have to be mean to be effective. He has always been respectful and professional toward everyone.”

That professionalism and experience earned Baudler a spot on the American Board of Trial Advocates, an exclusive honor among attorneys with stringent requirements. Only the top five percent of trial lawyers in Minnesota are eligible, and to earn a spot requires approval from every existing member. With more than 100 cases in Minnesota, Bryan was suited for the award.

“It was an honor to me to be selected,” Bryan said. “That was a recognition I really appreciated.”

Bryan didn’t spend all his time at court, however. He has served on the Austin Area Chamber of Commerce, the YMCA Board of Directors and the Cedar Valley Services board over the years.

“You hear this all the time, and most people who say it believe it, but I felt I owed something back to the community,” he said. “I was born and raised here, educated here. I got the benefits of being raised in what I consider to be a great town. I felt like I wanted to give something back, and that was the only way how.”

That’s not news to Tom.

Ever since he joined the firm in 1987, Tom has looked to Bryan as a mentor. Bryan’s knowledge of the law and impressive legal judgment has helped his coworkers approach various cases and concerns. For Tom, Bryan’s experience was crucial starting out in the courtroom.

“He has such a broad range of knowledge,” Tom said. “He taught me how to try cases and how to do it right. To have Bryan on your side, a guy who’s tried hundreds of jury trials and knows it in and out, was a huge advantage for me.”

Bryan will still be around the office to impart wisdom and to help clients.

“This is a great town,” he said.

Baudler, Maus, Forman, Kritzer & Wagner invites residents to an open house in Bryan’s honor at the Hormel Historic Home from 4 to 7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 17.