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Attorneys of the Year: Eric Magnuson

circle of excellenceFor Eric Magnuson, highly regarded appellate lawyer and former chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, two significant victories made 2017 a standout year.

Magnuson, a partner at Robins Kaplan, said he often gets hired to handle appeals when people “want a champion to come in and right the injury they think has occurred.”

In last year’s notable wins, however, his job was to protect clients’ victories. In other words, “Don’t screw up something that’s already been successful,” Magnuson said.

In the high-profile Adams v. Toyota Motor Corp., Magnuson fought off Toyota’s federal appeals, preserving an $11.4 million verdict in a 2006 fatal unintended-acceleration case.

In the other, Leiendecker v. Asian Women United of Minnesota, Magnuson convinced the Minnesota Supreme Court to declare the state’s 23-year-old anti-SLAPP (strategic lawsuit against public participation) law unconstitutional.

“What I felt most strongly about in those cases was their impact on the clients,” Magnuson said. “These people have to live with the consequences of the judicial decision.”

Magnuson said serving on the bench made him a better lawyer.

“I’m simply more comfortable when I stand up in front of judges because I’m going to have a conversation with them,” said Magnuson, who writes a monthly column for Minnesota Lawyer. “They’re looking for help. They’re not looking at who can be the meanest junkyard dog. My job is to help the court find the right answer.”

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