Matt Speiker: Pull to Return Home Is Omaha’s Gain 12/2/14 12/01/14 11:15:54 PM
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Matt Speiker loves practicing business law at Koley Jessen, but at home he’s a supportive husband, dad, coach, and when time permits, outdoorsman.
Pull to Return Home Is Omaha’s Gain
By Dennis Friend
The Daily Record
Matthew Speiker is an attorney, a coach, an outdoorsman and a family man.
He’s also someone who believes in service to the community. He offers a simple reason: “My father instilled in me the idea of helping others every day and in all facets of our lives.”
According to Speiker, he’s always been that way.
“As a child, I had a lot of interests,” he recalled. He thought about becoming a writer or an orthopedic surgeon. He dreamed of becoming a professional basketball player.
The boy who had been born in Omaha found his world upended when, in his freshman year at Millard North High School, his family pulled up stakes and moved to a small community in Minnesota called Lake of the Woods. Part of the lake is in the United States, part is in Canada. As of the 2010 census, the population in Lake of the Woods County was 4,045 and the lake takes up most of the county.
“I went from a class of 600 to a class of 60, from suburban to rural. I was initially very disappointed at making the move – to say the least,” Speiker recalled.
But, his antipathy changed as he discovered the world of outdoor activities available.
“Lake of the Woods is a huge lake,” Speiker said, affording him new opportunities that included water skiing, spearfishing, ice fishing, bird and waterfowl hunting, deer hunting and snowmobiling.
“Northern and suckerfish spawn each spring in the channels of the lake, and we would hunt them with spears and nets. We would run up and down the banks throwing spears at fish,” he said, and during ice fishing season, “the ice houses create cities on the lake.”
After high school and two years of college at the University of North Dakota in Grand Forks, he returned to Omaha to enroll at the University of Nebraska at Omaha, where he earned a degree in business administration with an emphasis in accounting in 2000.
But from the age of 12, he knew he wanted to be a lawyer, to “understand the complexity of society and its myriad of laws,” he said, and his interest was fueled by “a book from the ’70s – a layman’s guide to law” he found in his parents’ library called “You and the Law.”
“I always rooted for the underdog,” Speiker said and he initially envisioned himself as a criminal defense attorney. His ideas changed when he went to college “and I saw the connection between business and law.”
So after getting his UNO degree, Speiker enrolled at Creighton University, earning a law degree in 2003, graduating magna cum laude. He was part of the editorial staff for the Creighton Law Review.
And that’s where he met Sasha Steinhoefel.
“She was friends with some friends of mine from junior high and she was studying to be a teacher.” He was so enamored, so taken with her, he admits “my worst semester in law school for grades was the semester I met her. She got me back on track though!”
They married in April of 2005 and were living in Minnesota but Speiker said, “to me, Omaha’s home.” They returned on Thanksgiving in 2005 when Speiker joined the Koley Jessen law firm at One Pacific Place.
“Simply put, I’m a business attorney. I represent businesses in commercial transactions,” he said. The company’s website describes Speiker’s role as one in which he advises borrowers, lenders and other creditors in agricultural and commercial loan transactions, workouts and foreclosure actions. He also advises banks, businesses and other clients on state and federal regulatory matters.
In his work with the firm’s Business/General Counsel Practice Group, he advises businesses and clients in matters ranging from restructuring and reorganization to legal compliance and dispute resolution.
“I also assist in business start-ups, succession planning, real estate matters, and general contract matters – I’m really interested in all types of business-oriented legal work,” he said.
Koley Jessen colleague Marlon Lofgren has described Speiker as “one of the more dedicated, fair attorneys I’ve had the privilege of working with. He really believes in over-the-top service. He will meet and exceed the client’s expectations.”
Lofgren also described Speiker as “one of my right-hand guys” in the firm’s Banking, Finance and Creditors’ Rights Practice Group.
Speiker recently became part of Leadership Omaha, an annual effort by the Greater Omaha Chamber of Commerce to “develop effective leaders who will strengthen and transform the community.” Every year, a selection committee chooses a class of perhaps four dozen participants based on each individual’s community involvement, willingness to serve the community and demonstrated “professional growth and leadership.”
According to Lofgren, “we completely support Leadership Omaha” and a number of Koley Jessen attorneys have been involved in the program over the years.
Speiker said he was chosen to be part of the latest 10-month session in September, and called it “an amazing experience.” The program’s goals are to provide opportunities for communication; to develop awareness of the community and “its problems, challenges and opportunities”; to encourage individual leadership and to motivate participants to assume leadership roles in the community.
Speiker said Leadership Omaha sessions to date have included a focus on education as the group tours schools in Omaha and a focus on city government “when we learned about the history of the city and its mayors and participated in a simulation of the city’s budget process. I’m just in the early stages of the program.”
The idea behind Leadership Omaha has been “to train leaders and inspire people to give back to the community. One of the reasons I wanted to join is to give back to the community. My father instilled in me the idea of helping others. It starts from this, and I really want to give back,” Speiker said. “I’m hopeful that Leadership Omaha will provide me with more opportunities to do so.”
Speiker will emphasize the importance of family and community in any conversation. He and Sasha will mark their tenth anniversary in April. They have three children: Jack, 8; Savanna, 6; and Sofia, 4.
“If I’m not at work, or volunteering, I’m spending time with my family,” he said. He has volunteered as a basketball and soccer coach, but “this is my first year of not coaching in awhile. This year, I’m supposed to be a supportive parent, but I have a tough time suppressing the coach in me.”
Speiker also works with a local nonprofit serving at-risk youth and has been involved in fundraising efforts for a number of local and national charities.
Speiker has served on a “Community Investment Review Team” for the United Way of the Midlands for the past two years and called it “a real eye-opening experience insofar as the needs within the community and [it] highlights the efforts of some of the many people that work tirelessly to address those needs.”
His wife, meanwhile, owns and operates Sasha Models, a modeling and talent agency that works with models and talent locally and places talent with other agents in major markets. This pursuit allows her to use both her teaching skills and knowledge of the industry, he said.
She has done print, voice, commercial, television, film, theater and pageants and has taught classes and workshops related to the industry. “She’s my favorite client”, Speiker said.
“My family is first and foremost,” he said, “but, after that, I really want to give back. I want to be a source of hope.”