Attorneys of the Year: George W. Soule
Posted: 12:35 pm Mon, February 25, 2013
By Liz Wolf
Bowman and Brooke
Growing up in a small town in Becker County, Minn., George Soule had only 25 students in his entire class. However, he had big aspirations and knew by eighth grade that he wanted to be a trial lawyer.
“I’ve always been interested in politics, and a lot of the politicians in my area were lawyers as I was growing up,” Soule recalls. “I thought they went hand in hand.”
Soule attended Harvard Law School, where he served on the Law Review with now-Chief Justice of the United States John Roberts. He returned to Minnesota in 1979 to begin his career as a trial lawyer. A founding partner at Bowman and Brooke in Minneapolis, he has taken more than 60 cases to verdict involving product liability, commercial lawsuits and negligence claims. He has tried cases in 19 states, from small-town courthouses and tribal courts to federal courts.
This past year was no exception. He was involved in a high-profile trade-secret case in which Seagate Technology sued competitor Western Digital Corp. and a former Seagate employee — who joined Western — for appropriating trade secrets. Soule was part of the team that was successful in vacating a $630.4 million arbitration award previously issued against Western Digital. It was the largest arbitration award in U.S. history.
Soule successfully tried two product-liability cases, traveling coast to coast, from Riverhead, N.Y., to Seattle, Wash. He led the defense team to victory for Vermeer Manufacturing Co., a manufacturer of stump cutters, in a lawsuit claiming injury. The case was dismissed. He successfully represented Breg Inc., a medical-device manufacturer of pain pumps, in a case in which a plaintiff claimed she developed chondrolysis (the rapid destruction of cartilage) resulting from the continuous infusion of local anesthetic provided by a pump following surgery. After two days of deliberations, the jury was deadlocked and the judge declared a mistrial.
Soule also was appointed a judge for the Tribe of White Earth Nation, Minnesota’s largest reservation.
“It’s interesting for me because I have to take off my advocate hat and put on a neutral, how do we resolve this case fairly and according to the law hat,” Soule says. “It requires a different way of thinking than proving your case for your client.”