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Today, Flinn is the CEO of St. Luke’s Medical Center in Phoenix, and Tempe St. Luke’s Hospital. But his path to the law and to his gratifying career as a leading health care executive was anything but a straight line.

Jim Flinn (Hooker Class, 1993) hadn’t been in law school very long when he fell ill. He thought it best to let his professor, Ronald Trosty, know at the beginning of class that he wasn’t prepared and why. Professor Trosty thanked him for being honest. “As soon as class began, Professor Trosty asked the first question of the day, and guess who he called on? Me!” Flinn said with a flourish. Flinn couldn’t believe it.

“My lifelong dream had been to be a police officer,” Flinn shared. “At that time, you had to wait until you were 21 before you could begin training to become an officer, so I decided that I would join the Marine Corps.” Flinn learned a lot as a Marine at the Beautfort Air Station in South Carolina, including the mental toughness and demands of being a Marine. But he still longed to be a police officer. He enrolled in criminal justice classes at nearby Beaufort Technical College (BTC), where a paper that he wrote drew the interest,

At the time, it was a tough lesson to learn, but to this day, Professor Trosty’s teaching moment has guided Flinn through the decades to what is a very impressive career in the health care field.



not only from his professor, but his professor’s wife. “My professor, Danny Crooks, was impressed with a report I had submitted,” remembered Flinn. “He even shared it with his wife, who was an attorney. She told him ‘This kid should go to law school!’”

“So I apologized, and again I told him that I had been sick and hadn’t had time to prepare,” said Flinn. “He then told me, ‘I may understand, but will your employer understand? Will your client understand?’ He had me leave the class because I was unprepared.”

“I learned there are no excuses. So not only do I now prepare, I over-prepare,” Flinn said. “And that more than anything else has helped me to be successful today.”

The Phoenix skyline

That one comment gave Flinn the confidence and belief in himself to turn his attention from law enforcement to a career in the legal profession.

Flinn, with his wife, Amy

While still enlisted in the Marine Corps, Flinn changed gears and enrolled at the University of South Carolina (USC) where he earned a bachelor of arts degree in interdisciplinary studies. Following his graduation from USC, Flinn, a Greater Lansing native, returned to the area to start his legal journey at WMU-Cooley Law School. Flinn enjoyed law school and the intellectual challenge. He thrived on the National Trial Team and, in his senior year, clerked for then-Michigan Governor and Cooley graduate John Engler (Wing Class, 1982).

LIFETIME OF LEADERSHIP “I learned then that regardless of your ultimate goal, the rigors of going through law school, along with the relationships you make there, are invaluable and serve you for the rest of your life.” JIM FLINN




Benchmark | Winter 2016  

This issue of Benchmark prominently features our dear friend, alumnus and nationally renowned artist Gordon Boardman, who has made a monumen...

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