Q&A with 1L Hugh Fleming, Owner/Operator of a Commercial Fishing Vessel in Bristol Bay, Alaska
Editor’s Note: This is part of a series of Q&As with incoming Minnesota Law students.
Hugh Fleming ’21 purchased a fishing boat two years ago and has spent the last two summers captaining it in Bristol Bay. He recently answered a few questions about his background and what about Minnesota Law reeled him in.
You have an interesting background running a boat crew on Bristol Bay. Could you discuss a little bit about your experience?
Running the boat is a pretty recent change in my fishing career. The main industry in the town I grew up in is commercial fishing, so I grew up working on local fishing boats. I started working on fishing boats when I was 13 years old and have spent each summer salmon fishing since. After finishing my undergraduate studies, I started fishing full-time for other species like crab, cod, and halibut. I bought my own permit during my junior year of undergrad and bought my boat during the fall of 2016. This summer was my second season running my own operation. Captaining my own boat has exposed me to a whole new dimension of fishing and has been a very rewarding challenge.
Why did you choose Minnesota Law?
I applied to a bunch of law schools throughout the West, but settled on Minnesota after visiting this winter. I have several friends who are alumni of Minnesota Law and have had very successful legal careers. The school has a great reputation and came highly recommended. I was really impressed by how helpful and friendly everyone at the school is. I wanted to attend a great school with good people, so I settled on Minnesota.
Minnesota Law is also a place known for putting an emphasis on leadership. What does leadership mean to you?
In my experience in the fishing industry, I’ve found that the best leaders are those that lead by doing rather than saying. As a young captain, I’ve been challenged with managing a crew of young people with varying levels of experience. I make it my goal to teach the crew everything I can so that they can share some of the responsibility of our day-to-day operation and feel like a valued part of a team. As a crewmember, I found that by taking more responsibility I was more motivated to perform at a higher level. The success of our fishing operation depends on us working together as a team as efficiently as possible. Good leadership skills are valuable in any setting and can transfer from one application to another.
What do you hope to do with your legal education?
At this point, I don’t know exactly what I want to do with my legal career. It has always been a dream of mine to attend law school, so I’m excited to be finally making that a reality. Ideally I’d like to combine my passion for fishing with my law career to keep some degree of both in my life.
Do you have any interesting hobbies or leisure activities?
During the last couple years I’ve pretty much been gone fishing constantly, but when I find the time I really enjoy rock climbing and skiing. Going to school in Montana gave me a pretty good chance to spend a lot of time doing both of these activities in my spare time.
What three adjectives describe you best?
Ambitious, competitive, and responsible.
What else would you like to share with the Minnesota Law community about yourself and your aspirations?
I’m really looking forward to meeting my future classmates and faculty this fall in Minneapolis.