Attorney Jack Bouquet of Hellmuth and Johnson retired in May, ending a 43-year career dedicated to service to Common Interest Communities. I first had the opportunity to meet Jack in 2005 when he was with Thomsen & Nybeck, P.A. and working as the attorney for one of my condo associations. Shortly thereafter Jack and I began working together on the CIC Midwest Planning Committee, where we became co-chairs of the Legislative Committee. In the six years we have worked together, it has been my pleasure to call him my most significant legislative mentor.
Jack hails from Lake City, Minnesota, a river town about 60 miles southeast of the Twin Cities. He completed his undergraduate degree at St. John’s University in Collegeville in a mere three and a half years and then went on to law school at William Mitchell in St. Paul. If finishing his undergrad early isn’t impressive enough, Jack married his wonderful wife Marie just before starting law school and had a new baby arrive during finals two of his four years, plus during the bar exam. He remembers studying while waiting for each of them to be born.
During law school Jack worked as a tax examiner for the State of Minnesota Department of Revenue and then went on to work at the former Northwestern National Bank of Minneapolis in its Trust Department. Ever the visionary, Jack approached the head of the bank with an idea of how a lawyer could help integrate all of the different banking aspects into a cohesive whole, but the banker had other ideas, so Jack went out into the world of private practice as an attorney and left the banking world behind. He initially worked mostly in estate planning and probate and dove into the exciting field of real estate law somewhat unexpectedly early in his career when one of his associates retired. Jack expected he would sit down with the associate and delve into real estate law slowly, but instead the man led Jack into a room full of his files and said something to the effect of "here you go, now I’m retired” and left Jack alone to figure it all out. As all of us who have come to know Jack well know, figure it out he did.
Fortunately Jack found real estate law equally interesting as what he was previously working on, and he stuck with it. About five or six years into his practice he joined the Minnesota chapter of CAI, where he has served over the years as a board member, chapter chair, and most recently as a member of the Legislative Action Committee (LAC). He later joined MHA and served for many years on the CIC Midwest Planning and Legislative Committees. As an attorney, Jack is a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association and sat for many years on the Minnesota Common Interest Ownership Act (MCIOA) Committee.
As we all know, the state law that affects our industry the most is MN Statute 515B, or the MCIOA. Jack was instrumental in developing the original version of MCIOA in 1994. This was a piece of legislation that had come down through a national group based on the Uniform Condominium Act.
Jack’s proudest accomplishment, aside from being married to Marie and being a grandfather of three, has been watching the LAC grow and become more efficient. The MN Chapter LAC started years ago with humble beginnings, with just Jack and Greg Pettersen of Reserve Data Analysis, Inc. as members, and has grown into a thriving group of more than a dozen. Jack and I initially formed a liaison committee where he and I would meet to keep each other informed of what different legislative groups we were involved with were doing, but it wasn’t long before Jack invited me to join the LAC myself. By working together and keeping all the groups informed on each other’s activities we have been able to keep better tabs on what is taking place at the Capitol, track proposed legislation, reduce duplication of efforts and make more efficient use of our limited resources.
This year’s unique legislative environment, with bills no one expected coming out left and right, was fascinating to Jack and gave us all a good lesson in how effective we can all be if we pool our resources. In the past many of our industry groups, including the LAC, have relied on the Bar Association to send information our way on pending legislation. This year, however, there were things that got around us and seemed to come out of left field, so having many groups tracking legislation and informing members of various groups of what was coming down the pike was imperative, and will continue to be more and more important.
One of Jack’s hopes for the future is that groups like the LAC become the first thing legislators think of when they face bills regarding Common Interest Communities and start to rely on us as a trusted resource for information. The LAC was successful this year in getting committee member names out to legislators, with many members, including Jack himself, testifying at hearings in various committees on bills that affect our industry. Going forward we will continue to be a presence at the Capitol and encourage legislators to contact us directly to discuss pending issues. The work that Jack has done with these committees has helped ensure solid footing and a great foundation to make sure his wish comes true.
Although Jack has officially retired, he can still be found some of the time at the law firm of Hellmuth and Johnson, where he is in the process of transitioning his clients to his trusted colleagues. Jack says he is retiring from a great firm with great people and is sure his clients will be well taken care of. It was important to him to leave things in good hands, which he knows he has done with the lawyers at Hellmuth & Johnson.
Once his transition is complete, Jack hopes to spend time developing some new hobbies. With his busy career, he didn’t always have time to pursue as many outside interests as he would have liked, but he looks forward now to spending time gardening and golfing and will spend more time at his home in Florida. He will also continue to work on legislative and Association matters as a homeowner member of CAI.
I’d like to congratulate Jack on his long and accomplished career and wish him well in his retirement. It has been an honor and pleasure working with Jack and we certainly owe much of the success of the LAC and our work on legislative matters to him.