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In-House Counsel: JoAnn Toth

In 2015, JoAnn Toth became Maplewood-based MG McGrath’s first in-house counsel – and, for a time, its only inside lawyer. Last year, Toth hired a Mitchell Hamline law student last year to manage what had become an 80-hour weekly workload.
Toth has done much in her three short years with MG McGrath. She worked to improve five core internal programs – compliance, quality, safety, insurance, and bonding. She strengthened and formalized the company’s risk management posture. She implemented multiple in-house training programs and personally facilitates trainings for estimators and contract managers. And she works proactively to anticipate and address looming legal issues before they threaten the company.
But, for all her success, Toth is more eager to talk about MG McGrath’s architectural triumphs – “unique buildings that make a difference in peoples’ lives,” she said – than the low-key victories she’s notched as the company’s in-house counsel.
“I don’t want to take credit” for resolving legal matters, said Toth. “It works best when legal operates behind the scenes.”
Toth is particularly proud of her employer’s work on the U.S. Olympic Museum, presently under construction in Colorado Springs. The ornate metallic exterior is MG McGrath’s handiwork; the structure “looks like a flower blossoming out of the ground, with blooms wrapped in metal,” Toth explained.
Before effectively founding MG McGrath’s in-house legal department, Toth participated in another important “first” as an attorney in the civil litigation division of the North Dakota Attorney General’s office: a 90-day sprint to address the far-reaching implications of a 1994 North Dakota Supreme Court decision abolishing the state’s longstanding sovereign immunity from tort liability claims.
Among other things, that meant spearheading the state’s first state tort claims act, creating a new civil risk management division, and procuring insurance “for everything from the governor’s jet to state National Guard tanks,” said Toth.

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