“We want to guide our clients to chart a course”
Anytime Brent Stubbins looks up from his bank of computer monitors, he sees the framed print of Rembrandt’s “Syndics of the Drapers’ Guild” hanging on his wall. It shows five 17th Century Dutch cloth merchants welcoming someone of stature. Their faces convey a feeling something good is about to occur.
Brent sees commerce in the Rembrandt print. “It’s from my favorite period in art history, the transitional period in Holland in the 1600s when wealthy merchants could pay to have their portraits and family scenes drawn. It was the first real depiction before cameras of real people doing real things. Most Western art prior to that had been focused on monarchical or religious subjects.”
Brent is the grandson and son of attorneys. His younger brother, Mark, was a law partner until his passing in August, 2018. Brent took the entrance test for law school at Kenyon College because it was offered, although becoming an attorney was not a goal. But now that he is one, he can’t imagine a better calling than helping people solve problems.
As a boy, Brent says he was a nerd and an introvert. He says it is fortunate for his knees and hips that he was not an athlete. He read encyclopedias. As an eighth grader, he remembers reading Thor Heyerdahl’s “Kon-Tiki” and William Shirer’s “The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich.”
Brent’s wife, Susan, retired after 30 years as an art teacher with Zanesville City Schools. Together, they have visited many of the great art museums of the world. They also have set foot in all 50 states — Susan most recently when they stopped at the original Cabela’s store in Sydney, Nebraska.
Their son, James, works for a Cleveland non-profit helping people with employment issues find decent jobs. Their daughter, Elizabeth, is an attorney in Chicago. She added to the family with the birth of Brent and Susan’s first grandchild – a 7-pound, 12-ounce boy they named Vincent James Baratta; “Vincent” after his paternal grandfather and “James” in honor of Elizabeth’s grandfather and Brent’s father, as well as Elizabeth’s brother.
Brent figured he’d enjoy being a grandfather. But he’s still getting over the surprise of just how much. The wallpaper photo on Brent’s phone of Vincent James reaching out with an enormous smile is one Brent took himself. “Seeing a happy smiling healthy baby is so heart-warming … so much more joyful than I thought it could be. Not much work and almost all play.”
Brent expects his family to continue to grow with the engagement of Elizabeth’s college roommate and bridesmaid to his son. Her name is Liz May, and she is an occupational therapist who works with children with brain injuries at Cleveland Clinic.
If you’ve spent any time with Brent at all, you know he delights in sharing arcane facts. In one such, he notes that the SS Edmund Fitzgerald sank in Lake Superior on Nov. 10, 1975, which was also his mother-in-law’s 50th birthday. “So every Nov. 10, I see to it that everyone in my office goes to Muddy Miser’s to raise a toast to the 29 souls who went down with the Fitzgerald, which was led by Captain Ernest McSorley, whose last radio transmission was, ‘We are holding our own.’”
The firm’s conference rooms are decorated with nautical maps and charts for a reason. “We want to guide our clients to chart a course. People who don’t see the value of having a lawyer for charting a course miss the chance to avoid the reefs their ships may encounter. It’s always a good feeling when you can help someone avoid a shipwreck. That’s the point, really, of the work I do.”