Cole A. Hickman: Complex Problems, Practical Solutions

Cole A. Hickman
2024 Feature Nominations

Cole A. Hickman began practicing law in 2011 and was named an equity partner at Hellmuth & Johnson in January 2020. He says that from the day he joined the firm, he was asked to articulate his goals for the future and then was promptly given the tools to bring those goals to life.

“We have all the resources anyone could ask for to grow a successful practice,” Hickman says. “Once I set my goals, then we kind of worked backward on how to reach them. That’s where the support comes in. The other attorneys and staff assist and support me throughout the process. It really is a team approach here.”

Growing up in Cambridge, Minnesota, Hickman didn’t see law school in his future until the idea was planted by mentors who introduced him to the legal profession, underscoring the power of early mentorship.

“I made the decision around my third year in college, when I was able to do some job shadowing and learn a little about what lawyers do and what they like about it. Without some of those people in my life at that young age, I would likely not have entertained the idea.”

Hickman began his career as a litigator but found his real passion in counseling clients through estate planning, business succession planning and related practices, including mergers and acquisitions. As his practice grew, so did the demands of his clients, inspiring his move to Hellmuth & Johnson in 2018.

“The firm offers a broad range of legal services that many of my clients, particularly business clients, need. In order to handle their various business issues, I needed a team around me. A lot of the work I do is for business owners, and typically they are owners of small to mid-sized, closely held companies. In working with them on developing and implementing estate planning and succession planning, I tend to develop very close relationships with those individuals, and I become the first call for any number of business-related issues. I’m usually not handling those ancillary issues other than mergers and acquisitions. I tend to become more of a relationship manager, and I’ll partner with another attorney at Hellmuth & Johnson who has experience in that particular issue.”

Hellmuth & Johnson has been a trusted legal partner in the Minnesota business community for more than a quarter century. Built upon relationships, the firm is made up of diverse but complementary attorneys who work collaboratively with clients. Hellmuth & Johnson remains a locally owned firm, and Hickman says this distinction is important to the clients he represents.

“Some other larger law firms aren’t interested in representing the local small and mid-size business clients that our firm has done business with for years. We embrace that. In fact, it’s part of what we like to do. We feel our business owner clients and individuals deserve excellent legal representation, and we work hard to deliver that. Being a locally owned firm, we understand the legal needs and the market here in Minnesota and in the Midwest. With that said, we still have the resources and capacity to solve complex and specialized legal issues.”

A husband and father of two, Hickman says that Hellmuth & Johnson offers the flexibility that allows him to grow both his practice and his family.

“Whatever support you need, the firm will give it to you as long as you’re getting your work done and being responsive. If I want to take part of the day to spend with my family or work on business development, I can do that. We have a healthy balance of autonomy, support, teamwork and trust.”

During the last decade, Hickman has become a trusted advisor to the clients he represents. Along the way, clients have confided in him about the inner workings of their companies and families, and they have found in him a good listener and reliable counselor.

“I think they appreciate that I’m going to look for a practical solution to their problem, not only the legal solution. I think when they realize that I’m a small business owner as well and am going through some of their same issues, it gives us common ground.”

H.K. Wilson

H.K. Wilson is a contributing writer for Attorney at Law Magazine. She has been writing features for the publication for more than four years.

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