Longtime River Falls resident Nick Zimmerman was always fascinated with the law.

While attending River Falls High School, his plan was to go to UW-Madison, and stay for law school. Once he made it to Madison, he realized what he'd left behind.

"I just missed it so much," he said.

He found his way back home, transferring to UW-River Falls. A new interest led him to study physical therapy, but when he learned he could go to law school with any major, he was decided.

"At the time I found that out, it was a no-brainer," Zimmerman said.

He sat for his LSATs, and attended William Mitchell in St. Paul.

"It was history from there," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman has now joined the firm Rodli, Beskar, Neuhaus, Murray and Pletcher, S.C on Main Street. He previously clerked with the firm, and felt right at home. The firm had the added bonus of being in his hometown.

"This firm is tremendous in the sense of feeling like a family," Zimmerman said.

Everyone in the firm cares, Zimmerman said, and wants him to be successful. He feels like he can go to anyone with questions. It's the opposite of the cutthroat environment seen in some law offices.

Zimmerman's focus is on criminal defense, and he also prosecutes for a few municipalities in the area.

As a criminal defense attorney Zimmerman works with clients on traffic citations, misdemeanors, drug crimes and more. It's an area of law that he is passionate about.

"Someday I hope that's all I do," Zimmerman said.

Criminal defense attorneys play a huge role in the criminal justice system, Zimmerman said. They are there to help their clients understand the system, and take them through the steps ensuring the process is fair, whatever the result is.

"Being charged with a crime is most of the time the most significant thing that's ever happened to the client, and they never know where to go, what to do," Zimmerman said.

Zimmerman started working with his first client in his first days, appearing by phone in court the day after he was sworn in.

"One of the attorneys here was joking with me that I was way ahead of the game because he said it took him eight or nine months for his first appearance in court, and it took me less than a day," Zimmerman said.

The firm had him ready.

"I am a hungry attorney, I think that kind of comes with being young," he said. "It was a long process for me to get admitted and finally get here, so I was really chomping at the bit, I was ready to go."

He wants his clients to know that he is there for them through the whole process.

"I will care about them and actually care about their case," he said.

Zimmerman is happy to be living and working in his hometown with his family. Every morning he waves his son off for school, and makes his own way into his downtown office.

"I love this community, I really do love River Falls," he said. "I'm obviously biased because I've lived here my whole life but I think I'm biased in the right ways."