For more than 40 years, the preeminent attorneys at Schwebel, Goetz & Sieben have championed the cause of seriously injured people throughout the Upper Midwest region. As an attorney of the next generation, Matthew Barber is standing on the shoulders of giants and continuing a tradition of legal excellence and passionate advocacy.
According to Barber, he displayed a penchant for argument from the womb, and at an early age, he knew his calling was the law. He also knew exactly which firm he wanted to work for. “Growing up, I used to see this firm’s ads on TV, and I heard about them in the community. I knew they were a great firm doing great work for people, and that’s what I wanted to do.”
In college, Barber prepared for law school with classes that sharpened his skills in written and oral advocacy, while working for Schwebel as a night office assistant. He continued to work for the firm as a clerk during breaks and summers, while earning his law degree at University of North Dakota Law School. Barber finally achieved his boyhood dream and joined the firm as an associate in 2015, where he has prospered in a culture of professional support and collaboration.
“I love the environment here,” he says. “I feel fortunate to have ‘grown up’ through this firm, where everybody is a mentor. I work with Jim Ballentine, who heads up our firm’s appellate practice. My practice involves taking legal problems other attorneys have in our office and helping them find an answer. I love research and writing along with courtroom advocacy. Jim has been a mentor to me since law school. He’s a great public speaker and writer, and he’s taken a lot of time to sit down and go through drafts I’ve written and practice mock oral argument with me. He also knows when to take the training wheels off. One of his quotes is, ‘You can’t beat experience.’ He’s always happy to field questions, but he also gets me out to just do it.”
Schwebel is known for challenging laws that favor the interests of insurance companies and other corporations over those of Minnesota families. During his first two years with the firm, Barber won three significant victories at the Minnesota Court of Appeals. One resulted in a published opinion regarding pre-settlement funding contracts, protecting consumers from extortionate interest and fees, as well as terms that prevent litigants from asserting control over their own legal decisions.
Currently, Barber is working on several cases against insurance companies involving policies with resident family member exclusions, where coverage has been denied to injured family members of insureds.
“We’re taking those policies to task on a few fronts in Minnesota. People buy insurance for their families thinking they are protected. These policies do not represent the family values of our community.”
According to Barber, it is a great privilege to be practicing among the firm’s legendary attorneys, while remaining vigilant for opportunities to contribute fresh legal strategies and information that keep the practice moving into the future.
“We’ve been holding insurance companies accountable for over 40 years, and the representation at this firm is stellar. We’re growing the next generation of attorneys here. We’re hiring great people who will be stewards of this practice and provide the same outstanding service to clients of future generations.”