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2019 Attorneys of the Year

Click on the image above to see the full magazine.

Click on the image above to see the full magazine.

Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2019 illustrates the job of lawyers in addressing some of society’s most volatile challenges. Immigration, gender and LGBTQ equality, education, police-civilian confrontations, prisoners’ rights and labor law are among the places where Minnesota attorneys made a difference.

They pursued fair census procedures, rights of noncitizens charged with crimes, asylum for LGBTQ clients, and the path to citizenship or green card status.

The incarcerated are another very vulnerable area of society. Minnesota Lawyers achieved notable results for inmates who were confined unjustly because counties wouldn’t supervise them, convicted under laws deemed unconstitutional, prevented from using medically prescribed marijuana while on probation, or denied access to lifesaving hepatitis C treatment.

Cases involving education ranged from the English Language Learner program in St. Paul, the fraud prosecution of Minnesota School of Business/Globe University, and Title IX violations at St. Cloud State. When a conspiracy theorist vilified parents and children victimized in a school shooting, a $450,000 defamation verdict ensued.

A city’s attempt to terminate a labor union contract was shut down and in a rare event, a police officer was convicted of third-degree murder.

Other lawyers had cases that may not have been socially emblematic but were very important to their clients. Some significant negligence and products liability cases, including a huge multi-district litigation against 3M, were resolved on both sides, IP startups started, and a transgender individual won a human rights act case in a business setting. Railroad employees won significant FELA claims, and Fiat Chrysler was accountable for wrongful emissions. And Senior Assistant Hennepin County Attorney Jon Schmidt argued before the state appellate courts 15 times.

Minnesota Lawyer recognized the outstanding service to the profession of three judges —Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen, Minnesota Court of Appeals Judge Peter Reyes and U.S. District Court Magistrate Judge Steven Rau. Sadly, the legal community also said goodbye to Judge Rau, who died on Nov. 8 and who is sorely missed.

Barbara L. Jones


Aida Al-Kadi v. Ramsey County et al.

John Arechigo circle-excellence

Blackwell Burke Bair Hugger Team circle-excellence

Jacob Campion and Janine Kimble

Patrick J. Casey

Sara Karki

Jessica L. Kometz and Amie E. Penny Say­ler

Paula Jossart circle-excellence

Teresa Lavoie circle-excellence

Amy Lawler

Leonard Pozner/Sandy Hook defamation case

LGBTQ+ asylum matters

Lor Ler Kaw, Lor Ler Hok Koh, Mary Jane Summerville and George Thawmoo v. ISD #625

Nicholas G.B. May

Minnesota Attorney General’s Office prosecution of Minnesota School of Business/Globe University for fraud

Minnesota prisoner hepatitis C litigation circle-excellence

Nicole Moen

Clark Opdahl

Portz et. al. v. St. Cloud State University circle-excellence

Ramsey County juvenile detention alternatives initiative and juvenile justice reform leaders

Stephen Safranski

Jon Schmidt circle-excellence

Stacey Slaughter circle-excellence

George W. Soule and Melissa R. Stull circle-excellence

Amy Sweasy

Marshall Tanick

Eva Wailes

Recognition of outstanding service

Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen

Magistrate Judge Steven E. Rau

Judge Peter M. Reyes Jr. circle-excellence

circle-excellence = Circle of Excellence Attorney of the Year