Oliver T. Skillings, Attorney at Law
While serving in the U.S. Air Force in early the 1980’s I became interested in the law after studying history at a local community college. That interest compelled me to apply for and complete my undergraduate studies in political science and psychology at the University of Minnesota after leaving the service of our country. I then earned my J.D. degree at the William Mitchell College of Law in January 1990 and became licensed to practice law in May 1990.
After practicing law at a small firm in Mankato for several years, I started my practice in 2001 after moving back to the New Ulm community where I had originally grown up. My experience from the beginning of my career and continuing has been in criminal defense law and family law. As I grew my practice, I began contracting with the Fifth Judicial District to assist clients in the mental health field, utilizing my past degree in psychology to assist with my knowledge and understanding of mental illness.
I love the New Ulm community and its richness in culture, arts, and history. I became involved with the Community Theater Group known as NU ACT and offered my services on their board. After 12 years, I assisted the group in purchasing and eventual ownership of the State Street Theater.
I became a lawyer to help people who were struggling. As a criminal defense attorney, my experience with clients and the courts has led me to believe that not all crimes are intentional, or born out of ill will, or malevolence. More often, people take short cuts and find themselves in trouble. Others are victims of addiction or simply suffering from mental health issues which affect their judgment. Some are just plain innocent of allegations directed toward them. It is personally satisfying to me as a lawyer to be in a position to help these people navigate the criminal justice system and find appropriate solutions to the predicaments within which these individuals find themselves.
My interest in family law grew out of my criminal defense background as many clients start with a criminal charge and find themselves facing a divorce, displacement from the home, or have children taken from them. It is an area of the law that is constantly changing as well. When I began my career in 1990, very seldom were men granted custody of their children, and only after the mother was shown to be unfit. Today, the new normal is joint custody agreements and men have taken more active role s in raising their children. I like to think that my efforts in advocating for men to have more custodial rights in their children assisted with this trend.
While family law is more than just divorce and custody, that is a large portion of my practice. I have also helped with adoptions, guardianships and much more where family members need legal advice and assistance.
People sometimes ask me why I have a “Pointer” for a logo. My father instilled in me at a very young age the love of hunting and outdoor sports. I raise Brittany spaniels and have done so since 1989. The Pointer is a focused bird dog. I like to think that as an attorney, I am also focused on the issues that affect my clients lives so that they have a good outcome in their case. The fact that much of my practice comes from referrals by past clients suggests that I am living up to that logo.