Class of 2007
In 2007, Aaron Crandall was a shareholder at Leonard, Street and Deinard in St. Cloud. Now he has a new title and his firm has a different name.
What are you doing now?
Partner at Stinson Leonard Street, LLP in St. Cloud and deputy chair of our private business group.
How did the 5 Under 40 award affect your life?
The 5 Under 40 award and the St. Cloud Times have created a forum to recognize young community leaders, entrepreneurs and innovators. Being included in this prestigious group provided credibility and a peer group to help shape the Central Minnesota business community. Most importantly, many past award winners have turned into wonderful friends.
Other big changes since you received the award?
I have been lucky to live in Sartell with my wife, Sarah, and three daughters. Raising my family in Sartell has allowed me to realize how great the St. Cloud area is. In 2014, Leonard, Street and Deinard merged with a top Midwest law firm to form Stinson Leonard Street with offices in 14 cities.
What will make the St. Cloud area greater in coming years?
The business, community and political leaders in the St. Cloud area are not afraid to take risks and are motivated to make the St. Cloud area greater. We need to continue to embrace this spirit and continue to "think big." Summertime by George! and the YMCA Aquatics Center are perfect examples of this approach.
Originally ran: January 1, 2008
Aaron Crandall is the behind-the-scenes guy. He's not in the limelight as the chairman of a multimillion-dollar firm, but he is the man who helps a business get to that mark.
As a shareholder in law firm Leonard, Street and Deinard, Crandall and his partners have a different approach when it comes to working with businesses. They allow attorneys to become members of a company's team, working with them on strategic business plans and giving legal advice.
By working with growing technology companies such as W3i, Marco and UniqueScreen Media, Crandall has expanded his knowledge of law to include Internet law and privacy.
Position: Shareholder with law firm Leonard, Street and Deinard.
Family: Wife, Sarah; daughters, Libby, Emily and Greta.
Education: Degrees in economics and political science from Hamline University and law degree from University of Minnesota.
Ring tone: Theme song for "Law & Order."
Favorite movie: "Gladiator."
Place he'd like to visit: South Africa.
Hobbies: Hunting, spending time with children.
What attracted you to St. Cloud for your law career?
I wanted to look for (a place) that's embraced values of family and being part of a community. I saw St. Cloud as a big small town: a place that is big enough to practice the kind of law I wanted to practice, yet small enough to hold on to those small-town values that I was raised on. It was a good fit.
What is the best advice you've received?
From my partner, Brian Schoenborn. His advice is to focus on the person, make sure you are doing good things for other people. When you are helping other people and making a difference in other people's lives, that's the best way you can measure success.
When you look at the whole picture, good advice came from my mom and dad. Through all walks of life, you need to set your priorities (correctly) and (make sure) you are always putting faith and family first.
How are you able to live by that advice?
It takes a balance of work life and home and family life. As long as you are thinking about those things on a daily basis, you'll live them on a daily basis. Being a lawyer means a lot of hours, but you also make sure that family time is a priority and to be there when you can.
On the business side, it entails a good philosophy that I share with Brian, and that is you view your clients as your friends. You are always giving them your maximum effort and always there for them when they need you. That way, you can share the same goals as your clients ... building a good business, being part of their team.
What makes your law firm different from others?
We really focus on being part of the team with our clients. One of the ways we can do that is to take away the barriers that are there by making sure we are always available to the clients and make sure they can see us as part of the team. Sometimes that means some creative billing arrangements, where we essentially become part of that team for a flat fee. We're there to answer any type of question if it's for one of us or any of our partners in Minneapolis. That way, we can be there on the front end to prevent problems rather than at the back end, where we have to solve them.
How have you emerged as a leader in this community?
The best way to be a leader here is to work with the clients that I have to help their business succeed in Central Minnesota. If I'm doing my job and helping them to be successful, I take a lot of pride in that.
What do you like most about your job?
I love that every day is a little bit different. Every day I hope to make a positive impact on somebody's life. Sometimes it's helping them out with a problem or helping them plan a new business venture.
What challenges you at your job?
Every day you show up to work, you don't know what to expect that day. You don't know who is going to call, what situation or problem is going to be presented to you, and you have to make split decisions at times. A lot of times those are decisions that could significantly (affect) a company or a company's bottom line.
What words do you live by every day?
Work hard, and make a positive impact with each day.
How would you respond to people who have a negative perception of lawyers?
All lawyers are different. We (Leonard, Street and Deinard) feel like we have a whole different way of practicing law. We are part of our clients' integral team, we are there on a daily basis, helping them on a daily basis and adding a significant amount of value. So, at the end of the day, when they are going to pay us, whether it's a flat fee at the end of the month or by the hour, they are happy to write that check. If I'm not adding value, then I can't feel like I can justify sending out a bill.
What drives you?
I don't view this as work. It's my profession, and it's what I do every day. It's who I am. Being a planner, an adviser, a problem-solver. When you are really passionate about something like that, it's easy to get up and do it every day.
Did you know?
Aaron Crandall considers himself a "techie" and builds his own computers.