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Koehn to serve as Liberal city attorney PDF Print E-mail
Thursday, 22 February 2018 12:38


• Leader & Times

The City of Liberal has seen several changes in leadership in the first couple months of 2018 from the swearing in of new commissioners Connie Seigrist, Taylor Harden and Justin Varnes to the appointment of Cal Burke as interim city manager and most recently, local attorney Lynn Koehn was appointed as the City of Liberal attorney. 

Koehn, who resides in Sublette with his wife, Tiffany and their three children, Ashton, Laynee and Titus, grew up in the small town of Quinter and has been a practicing attorney since 2007, with many jobs since then. 

“I went to Fort Hays State University for my undergrad, where I met Tiffany and we married shortly after graduation and we’ve got our three children,” Koehn said. “Then I went to law school at the University of South Dakota and after that, I came back to Kansas, took the bar exam, and I was with the public defender’s office in Garden City in 2007. In 2008, I was elected as the county attorney for Haskell County and we moved from Garden City to Sublette, which is where we currently reside. Then I later opened my own practice. Then after that, I became the city attorney for Sublette and Satanta, a position I still have. I’m also the Copeland city attorney, which I just took on a few years ago, and that’s more on an as I’m needed basis. I’ve been a practicing attorney since 2007, I’ve been county attorney for eight (going on nine) years, and I’ve been the city attorney for Sublette and Satanta for that long as well.”

As Koehn tells it, his original plan in college was very different from the line of work he would eventually land in. 

“My college roommate when I was a freshman was a pre-law major and I was actually a chemistry major because I was originally planning on becoming a chiropractor and that was because my dad always said if he could do it over again, that’s what he would do,” Koehn said. “So that was my goal and after my first semester at college and taking calculus and chemistry and having 8 a.m. chemistry labs every Thursday, I decided I didn’t want to do that anymore. So I talked to my roommate and asked him what it took to be an attorney because it sounded interesting to me and he told me I needed a bachelor’s degree and then I would need to take the LSAT. Then I decided to pick the degree that interested me most and I picked criminal justice and now with the profession I’m in, it’s really helped a lot as far as relating to how to work with law enforcement officers.”

Koehn’s line of work was a bit of a surprise to his family, he added. 

“It’s interesting because my family does not come from a line of attorneys and when I told my dad I was going to law school, he was very against it because he had dealt with several attorneys and didn’t have a good opinion of them,” Koehn said. “But I always told him there was plenty of room for good attorneys and I was going to be a good attorney. After I became one, he acquiesced and said ‘I’m glad you became a good attorney.’”

So Koehn continued his work as an attorney in cities in the Western Kansas area and during the most recent city commission meeting Feb. 13, Koehn was announced as the new city attorney. 

“When I was first approached about it, I was really excited and interested in it,” Koehn said. “I do some municipal work in representing the other cities I mentioned earlier so when they approached me I said 'Yeah I'd be interested in that' and I thought it would be a good move in my career. So quite frankly I was excited and thought it would be neat. Having a business here, you hear about public concerns with the commission and with a new commission coming in and new leadership, I thought it would be exciting to see how all of that turns out and how that team works together. So I was really excited and humbled when I was approached and then when I met with Cal Burke, I was really humbled and he sat down and talked with me and so did a couple of the commissioners themselves.”

And Koehn said he is excited to get to work with city staff. 

“One thing is I'm excited to work with law enforcement as the city prosecutor. I've met with Dennis [Mulanax] already and talked about doing some trainings with him and having some trainings set up to meet with the city guys,” Koehn said. “So that'll be exciting to educate them and hear what their concerns are and have that open communication with them. That's exciting to me and also being in that advisory role for the commission, three out of the five of them are brand new commissioners, which is exciting because when you get new commissioners on the commission, they've got plans and things they want to do. They're excited to be there and they want to effect positive changes. So I'm excited to have an integral role in helping those changes coming about in the community I've got my business in and they all live.”

With his as city attorney in other area communities, Koehn said that will be very beneficial with working with city staff and the Liberal community. 

“To sit on that side of the table and have people come up and approach with concerns or questions, those skills are the ones you learn from being in that position,” Koehn said. “I really enjoy working with law enforcement and everyone has a job to do. The law enforcement officers I've worked with, they've always been of that mindset of whether I'm on their side or the other side, they realize I'm doing my job either way and it's not personal and everyone's got their role. Also, the community itself, I'm down here quite a bit every week and now that I've taken on the city attorney role here, I'm having to hire some extra support staff, which I expect will change the makeup of my practice. It's been great working with people in this community on both ends of different issues and getting to know the other attorneys here in town. But what I like most is the people – the reality is we're blessed and fortunate to live where we do because the people here are just good Western Kansas people.” 

Overall, Koehn said he is excited  for his position. 

“I'm really humbled to have this opportunity, first off, and I'll do the best I can while doing it,” Koehn said. “My job as city attorney is to the city of Liberal and it's to facilitate things that are of the benefit of the city. I really feel like all the commissioners up there, while they may disagree on certain things, their votes are in the way they feel is best for the city and that's what I want to focus on.”




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The High Plains Daily Leader and Southwest Daily Times are published Sunday through Friday and reaches homes throughout the Liberal, Kansas retail trade zone. The Leader & Times is the official newspaper of Seward County, USD No. 480, USD No. 483 and the cities of Liberal and Kismet.  The Leader & Times is a member of the Liberal Chamber of Commerce, the Kansas Press Association and the Associated Press.

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