A general law practitioner, attorney Norman Blais considers himself a throwback.
been in solo practice since the '90s, working from a historic Burlington residence on College Street, known affectionately as The Lawyer Barn, where he
leases space to seven other attorneys.
Last year, at 61, Norman Blais
ran for and won a seat on the Burlington City Council
decision to run was spurred by the death, in 2006, of a fellow lawyer.
"When Hilton Wick died," says Blais, "his obituary went on for paragraph after paragraph after paragraph, listing his accomplishments, his community service.
It's not as though Blais
hasn't had a life worth reading about.
once appeared on the Phil Donahue Show with his
then-partner Mark Keller, to discuss a case they had taken (and won), representing a Bennington woman charged with murdering her
"It was a really tough case for us, because it was a case where the client was having trouble finding a lawyer because of the gruesome details," says Blais
"The baby was 6 years old, and she
shot it in the chest, but then turned around and shot herself, and missed her
heart by about an inch."
The woman was found not guilty by reason of insanity because of postpartum depression.
"That developed to be one of the premier textbook cases for postpartum depression and is now taught at Harvard Medical School
Blais also prides himself on being a solo general practitioner, confessing to be a member of a dying breed - "a throwback to how lawyers used to be.
has a fairly active personal injury, divorce, and criminal case load, and a diverse number of business clients, he
says, adding that he
tends to get involved more in cases that are likely to end up in court.
Hilton Wick's obituary might not have been the only inspiration Blais
had for seeking public office.
"I started as a young deputy state's attorney up in Franklin County, and ran into Norm when he was a defense attorney on the other side of the table.
It has always been a pleasure to deal with him.
brings a grounding air of calmness in everything he
does that rubs off on other people.
It has made the council meetings more productive and the city council Democrats more productive."
Working with Blais
is Darci Benoit, his assistant, whose office is out in the building's reception area.