Defender: Attorney fights to protect our Constitutional rights

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By Sheila Pursglove
Legal News

Attorney Kurt Krause was inspired by his father, whom he terms a real-life “Atticus Finch.”

“My dad was a solo practitioner in a small town, Mason, and he literally bartered with some clients—for firewood, or work on his car, or on some house project— in exchange for legal services because they were too poor to pay him. In his general practice, he represented a lot of clients who were among the most vulnerable, including victims of domestic violence, who couldn’t afford a lawyer but desperately needed legal representation.

“Both my parents instilled in me a deep and abiding desire to serve others, particularly those who are among the less fortunate. I’ve never forgotten the lessons and values, including honesty, commitment, loyalty, and treating others with dignity and respect, that I saw practiced first hand.”

Last year, Krause joined the criminal defense team at Chartier & Nyamfukudza, P.L.C. in East Lansing. Despite having practiced primarily in the area of health care law for many years, he has always had a strong interest in criminal and Constitutional law. 

“It truly is an honor and a privilege—and something of a thrill—to be able to stand up for and to protect our clients’ Constitutional rights,” he says.

“But apart from my own personal interest, when the opportunity to practice with Mary Chartier and Takura Nyamfukudza arose, I was absolutely honored and delighted. They are two of the finest lawyers and people I know, and tremendous advocates for their clients. I feel so very fortunate and am very proud to be able to work with them and to be associated with this firm.”

A member of the Ingham County Bar Association, Krause also is a fellow and past vice president of the Ingham County Bar Foundation.

“I think there’s a great camaraderie in both organizations and I think that’s so crucial to our profession,” he says. “There has been so much loss of civility in so many aspects of our culture and daily life, but I think the Ingham County Bar community is one that stands out for its excellence in diligently working on and maintaining civility toward one another. One of the Foundation’s missions is fostering the honor and integrity of the profession of law, and that clearly goes hand in hand with maintaining civility. And I think it’s also critical to reminding ourselves why we became lawyers in the first instance.

“There’s never been a better time recommit ourselves to the meaning of being a nation of laws, as well as the fundamental notion that law is the glue that holds democracy together.”

Krause also serves on the Advisory Board of Legal Services of South Central Michigan, where he previously served on the Board of Directors.

“My father was the very first executive director of Legal Aid in Ingham County, so serving on the LSSCM Board was a really important and meaningful bookend for our family,” he says. “I thoroughly enjoyed serving on that Board, particularly when we went through the merger between the Lansing and Ann Arbor offices. That was a challenging time, but it has turned out extremely well, and I got to see up close the amazing and truly compassionate work that organization and its staff do every day.”

A graduate of Michigan State University and DePaul University College of Law in Chicago, Krause previously served as Michigan’s Assistant Attorney General, working in three divisions: Finance and Development, Health Professionals, and Health Care Fraud.

“I enjoyed many things, including quite simply the honor of serving the public under the tremendous leadership of Frank J. Kelley and ultimately, Jennifer Granholm. I still feel immense pride and gratitude to have been hired by and sworn in as an Assistant Attorney General by Mr. Kelley, someone who knew and still knows so much about public service, as well as fairness, justice, and doing right. 

“I had the good fortune to work on an array of interesting matters, but much more importantly, I met and worked with some outstanding lawyers. I had some truly amazing mentors, teachers and colleagues there. Most important of all though, I met my future wife, amazing partner and best friend Amy in the AG’s office.”

Krause also previously served as chief deputy director for the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services (MDHHS), joining the then-Department of Community Health shortly after Attorney General Granholm was elected Governor.

“That job almost certainly afforded me the greatest amount of growth, professionally as well as personally,” he says. “It was definitely very different from the practice of law, so it stretched me in ways that were exciting and scary, all at the same time.

“I was chief deputy during some very challenging years for the department and for state government generally, when it was necessary to engage in some significant budget and program cutbacks. I saw up close the hardship those cuts imposed not only on Michigan’s most vulnerable citizens, but on the dedicated public servants who were committed to doing everything they could to continue to serve those citizens, in spite of those budget cuts.

“But I had the privilege of serving a director, Janet Olszewski, whose extraordinary leadership guided the department through those rough times and who inspired its staff and employees to keep going and to keep providing the necessary services. I obviously enjoyed working with Janet but I was also inspired by the staff and employees. That position also provided me the opportunity to practice the art of servant leadership on a large scale. Servant leadership is something of a timeless concept but is one in which I strongly believe and tried to carry out in all of the leadership positions I held in state government.”

The Mason native now makes his home in East Lansing with his wife Amy and three rescue dogs: Lucy, a Shih Tzu mix; Gus, a Yorkie-Terrier; and, Skylar, a Brussels Griffon.

“I really enjoy living and working in the East Lansing and Okemos area because of the people and because there’s a vibrancy here I find exciting but also comforting,” Krause says.

An avid reader, occasional golfer, and a volunteer reader for the blind on WKAR radio, Krause’s favorite hobby is fly fishing for trout, especially in the Au Sable, the Pere Marquette and rivers in Montana. He and his wife also enjoy plays at the Williamston Theatre, as well as in New York and  in Stratford, Ontario.

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