Scott Springer is Chatfield’s newest attorney, taking ownership of the former Opat Law office. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Scott Springer is Chatfield’s newest attorney, taking ownership of the former Opat Law office. GRETCHEN MENSINK LOVEJOY/CHATFIELD NEWS
Scott Springer of Springer & Gumbel is excited to be working with people in Chatfield as the community's newest attorney. His firm purchased the former Opat Law office this past May after longtime attorney Matt Opat took the Fillmore County judicial bench.

Springer explained that he pursued law after first studying astrophysics. His first expertise, patent law, was interesting, but he felt a need to pursue more interaction with people.

"I actually have a degree in astrophysics and I was sitting in the computer lab late one night, looking at radiation cuts in synchronization galaxies and I started thinking, 'This is really interesting, but I like people a whole lot more,'" Springer explained. "So shortly after, I went to a seminar on patent law...and because I was a patent attorney with a degree in astrophysics, I still felt like I needed more interaction with people than with my keyboard and mouse."

Springer worked for a few years in tech and design and then went back to law school, living in the Twin Cities for six or seven years.

"I knew I didn't want to stay there," he said. "And since the vast majority of patent lawyers live in cities, I decided to turn to general practice. That's why I made the decision to become an attorney."

He practiced in Austin for five years, but he and his wife had chosen not to raise their children there, so he relocated to Preston in 2006.

"I practiced in Austin for five years, and much like the decision not to be in the Cities, my wife and I didn't want to raise our kids in Austin," Springer continued. "She grew up in Preston and I looked at all of Fillmore County as an underserved market. I looked at the county and determined that it was good for me. Preston's the county seat, so Preston it was."

Springer also added, "It's said that if you're going to practice law, you should practice in the county seat, but that's not the hard and fast rule, I've found. Closer to the hard and fast rule is that you practice where your clients are."

His practice was growing enough that he added a partner, Jennifer Gumbel, in 2008, and recently opened an office in Spring Valley, where Matt Kirkpatrick is the primary attorney.

The choice to purchase Opat Law was a gradual one - Springer didn't set out to do so, but circumstances were right.

"Originally, I thought I'd help Matt Opat out with the transition of clients, but when we discussed things further, I found out he was looking for someone to be here in Chatfield," Springer explained. "His practice was established and worked well for them, so as we did our due diligence, we thought it would work for us, too. His practice dovetails well into what I wanted to grow my practice to be, so it's a good fit from that standpoint, too."

Springer stated the mission now is to continue the practice, continue to serve Matt Opat's clients as they think he would have.

There are challenges, however, since Springer has taken on years and years' worth of files that Opat accumulated while dealing with clients.

"It is just different because he is a judge and not retired. There's history here with the files, but no historian, per se," Springer said. "It's almost like I'm an archaeologist reconstructing them. Certain things are difficult because I can't call him and get a lot of background or go over it with him because I don't want to bring up something that he has yet to be brought before him."

Thankfully, Springer has Opat's longtime office staff on hand to assist him in deciphering the details, so he's optimistic that someday he'll have the gist of each file.

For now, Springer is pleased to be available to help clients with their general law needs.

"We've been here six months, and I think, for the most part, the transition has gone very well. We're busier than we've ever been," he concluded. "I think we're looking forward to continuing to serve everyone and getting things done. We're very thankful that the community has been very welcoming."

Springer & Gumbel, located at 22 Second St. SE, Chatfield, is open Monday through Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. or by appointment. Springer may be reached at (507) 867-4080 or by email at sspringer@scottspringerlaw.com.