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David Bradley Olsen
David Bradley Olsen

Breaking the Ice: ‘One phone call from another adventure’

Name: David Bradley Olsen

Title: Shareholder, Henson Efron

Education: B.S., economics, Iowa State University; J.D., University of Arkansas

David Bradley Olsen’s phone rings more often when the Henson Efron shareholder handles another high-profile case.

Those include successfully representing former Gov. Jesse Ventura in his defamation suit and getting declared unconstitutional a Minnesota statute that paid relatives less than non-family personal care attendants.

“I’m one phone call away from another adventure, which is one of the reasons I like doing what I do,” Olsen said.

One call led to Olsen representing a Hutterite colony in South Dakota in a real estate ownership dispute that took three years to resolve in the group’s favor.

More than 90 percent of Olsen’s practice involves business and commercial litigation.

“I never know what I’m going to be doing month-to-month or year-to-year,” Olsen said. “It can consume you, but it’s very interesting … the people you get to meet, the things you get to do, the places you get to go.”

Q: What’s the best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Ask me about the Minnesota Wild. Always been a huge hockey fan. I love to follow hockey. I played in high school, played a little in college and played old man hockey up until three-four years ago.

Q: What prompted you to study law and pursue it professionally?

A: I’ve known since high school (in Two Harbors) that I wanted to be a lawyer. I took a business law class, really enjoyed it. I’ve always enjoyed reading and writing. The writing part has come easy. I majored in economics as a route to law school.

Q: What books are on your bedside table or e-reader?

A: I just finished the Harry Truman biography by David McCullough. McCullough just brings history alive. I always have on my nightstand the usual detective and spy thrillers, the legal genre thrillers like the Grisham books.

Q: What is a pet peeve of yours?

A: When you’re at a restaurant and people are ordering and say, “I will do the steak” instead of saying, “I will have the steak.” Drives me crazy.

Q: What are your favorite aspects of being an attorney?

A: Always one call away from another adventure. The wide variety of things I get to do. The constant learning process. And it’s always a challenge.

Q: Least favorite?

A: Lawyers who are difficult and lawyers who are unpleasant.

Q: What’s a favorite activity outside your job?

A: It used to be playing hockey and now a lot of biking.

Q: If someone visits you in your hometown, what would you take them to see or do?

A: Two Harbors, I would take them for walk out on the concrete breakwater that goes out into Lake Superior about quarter of a mile. It’s an incredible view of the ore docks. You can see across the lake. It’s one of most picturesque spots on the North Shore.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge, past or present, whom you admire most?

A: I’d probably have to say [the late] Henry Woods, a federal judge in Little Rock, Arkansas. I clerked for him for two years. He had a passion for the law and an incredible intellect. He could sit through a three- or four-day bench trial and at the end sit at his desk, pick up his Dictaphone and dictate 30-40 pages of findings of fact and conclusions of law. I would edit those and he would have it almost spot on every time.

Q: What’s a misconception people have about working as an attorney or judge?

A: Most people who aren’t lawyers don’t have any understanding of all the work that goes into the practice of law. People assume that lawyers know all of the answers to all of the legal questions.

Q: What is your favorite depiction of the law, the legal professional in popular culture?

A: One favorite legal book is “A Civil Action” by Jonathan Harr. It’s the ultimate David versus Goliath battle. You could empathize with this poor plaintiff’s lawyer going bankrupt trying keep up with the corporate defendants who were well-financed.

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