RCBA Honors William Kronschnabel with Annual Pro Bono Award

Bill_Kronschnabel_150Bill Kronschnabel started doing pro bono work simply because someone asked him to participate. Kronschnabel met former Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) volunteer attorney coordinator Pat Brummer at a luncheon where he was speaking to a group of St. Paul businesswomen. Being that he worked in the same building as SMRLS, Brummer asked him if he’d like to volunteer, and he’s been coming back ever since. “I got into a routine,” he said. 

Kronschnabel, who is a partner at Kueppers, Kronschnabel & Skrypek, also worked as a part-time public defender for 12 years. 

Through SMRLS, he worked on a variety of civil legal matters for clients. “There are a lot of people out there that just need a little bit of help,” he said. He encourages other attorneys to go into pro bono opportunities “with an open mind.” Many clients simply have nowhere else to go, he added. “There are people in different walks of life that need your help.”

Just last year Kronschnabel assisted a gentleman who was being forced to leave his home due to the fact it needed significant repair, and he couldn’t afford the upkeep. The city was threatening to revoke his certificate of occupancy While the gentleman had lived in the house since the 1980s, he couldn’t prove ownership due to the fact the house belonged to his aunt, but it was never probated. This caused a backup when trying to get financial assistance to make the repairs. Kronschnabel was able to assist the gentleman, which allowed him to keep the house. “I didn't know if we were going to be able to get that done to begin with, but we got it done and that guy and his wife are still in their house. That was a very heartwarming end to that,” Kronschnabel said. 

Another particularly memorable moment for Kronschnabel happened after helping a couple after they had been scammed by a contractor. He helped get everything straightened out for the couple. “The gentleman looked me in the eye and said, ‘Sir, you are a credit to your profession.’ I’ll always remember that,” said Kronschnabel. “Those are the types of cases that make you smile and want to come back.”  

Kronschnabel originally wanted to be a high school teacher and coach hockey, but he was inspired to try law school. “I thought I could I always go back to teaching, why don’t I try this law school thing and see if it works out?” he said. After taking the LSAT, he got a high enough score to get in. A week before law school, he was also hired as a law clerk for a new judge. That experience, and being able to be around lawyers and judges, inspired him to get going through law school. 

Outside of his legal career, Kronschnabel spent almost 40 years as a hockey referee, working at different capacities at the high school, college, and professional level. Naturally, Kronschnabel found similarities between his time on the ice and in the courtroom. “As an attorney, I learned to listen to everyone’s position and be respectful, even if I disagree with it,” he said. “This has helped me in not letting vociferous criticisms, disrespect, and yelling from players, coaches, and fans get ‘under my skin,’ which then allowed me to stay concentrated instead of getting all riled up, not treating players or coaches with respect and otherwise losing focus on the job I needed to do for the good of that game.”

The award will be presented at the Ramsey County Bar Foundation's virtual Bench & Bar Benefit on Thursday, November 18. Visit www.mnbar.org/rcbf-benefit for event information and registration.