Lawyers who can effectively use Zortman, Cher, and Prince in the same sentence are a rare breed. Such is the snowflake that is Michael Klutho. We have love to thank for his career in the credit and collection industry, where his love of nature and his background in analytics has helped him become one of the industry’s most respected legal minds. Read on to learn more about Michael and his great advice about using power tools.
Name: Michael Klutho
Company: Bassford Remele
Length of time at current company: 34 years
Length of time in industry: 28 years
How did you get your start in the industry?
In one of the first FDCPA lawsuits brought in Minnesota, I was asked to defend the law firm and collection agency named as defendants. Little did I know that I was on the cusp of what soon would become a flood of consumer-related lawsuits and claim. I quit counting the tally at 2,000.
What is your career highlight so far?
Helping to “make law” for the industry. It’s very difficult to get a federal statute amended. One way to shape the application of the law is through the successful defense of lawsuits. One in particular that we were successful in was Zortman (much like Cher and Prince, it’s become a single-name that is universally recognized in the industry). That was a nice highlight that continues to assist collection professionals today.
When or how are you most productive?
Getting up from my desk when I have a brief to get out, and especially when getting ready for trial, and heading to a conference room to get away from distractions (emails, calls, etc.) allows me to focus and develop strategies and defense tactics. Also, kicking around ideas with others on our Consumer Law Defense Team gains others’ perspectives and helps sharpen my focus.
Which industry professional do you admire most?
That’s a very hard question to ponder/answer. Our industry has countless professionals who go above and beyond to achieve much-needed changes in the often murky area of consumer collections. When it comes to shaping the law in favor of our industry, Dave Schultz with Hinshaw & Culbertson and Karen Scheibe Eliason with ACA come to mind, and to be sure, there are many others assisting in advancing of causes impacting collections.
What is one thing you do better than everyone else?
Avoid answering questions like this!
What do you like most about this industry?
Folks in the industry have great senses of humor. They are fun to visit with and to top if off, they show appreciation for a job well done.
What is one thing you wish you could change about this industry?
Truly updating the FDCPA, which is antiquated having been enacted in 1977. Perhaps the CFPB proposed Rule will help achieve this necessary change. We shall see.
If you weren’t in this industry, what would you be doing?
In my “former life” as I call it, I started out as a Fisheries Biologist with the Indiana Department of Natural Resources. When I moved to Minnesota (for love), I wasn’t able to get on with the Minnesota DNR so I “fell back” and went to law school. Next thing I knew, I was defending agencies and attorneys facing FDCPA, FCRA and TCPA lawsuits and claims. Frankly, the analytical training I received in college and with the DNR has served me well in attacking consumer lawsuits.
Describe a typical work day.
Creatively resolving conflicts. In court, writing briefs, taking depositions, negotiating over the phone, mediations, etc. It covers the gambit of defense work. A typical day also includes answering client’s risk management questions to help them avoid lawsuits and claims in the first place.
What is your guilty pleasure?
Taking a day off (or two) and heading up to our cabin for a long weekend. This past weekend I watched bald eagles, loons, deer and a bear while enjoying perfect spring weather as I took care of my spring “chores” at the cabin.
What is the best advice you’ve ever received?
Watch others. See what works for them (and what doesn’t). Then “be yourself,” and weave into your fabric what you’ve seen work for others. And, “watch your fingers” when making tight cuts using a table saw!
What are you currently reading?
“Under the Dome” by Stephen King.
What is one fact you’d like everyone in the industry to know about you?
I love to laugh. Laughter keeps us sane.
Who else would you like to see answer these questions?
David Schultz with Hinshaw & Culbertson.