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Steven Kerbaugh
Steven Kerbaugh

Breaking the Ice: COVID pandemic brings workplace safety claims

Name: Steven Kerbaugh

Title: Counsel, Saul, Ewing, Arnstein & Lehr

Education: B.A., political science and French, University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire; J.D., University of Minnesota Law School

Steven Kerbaugh, counsel at Saul, Ewing, Arnstein & Lehr, says the pandemic has driven an increase in workplace safety and other matters in his practice.

“In terms of new and different issues, the pandemic has spawned a lot of them,” Kerbaugh said, including unique whistleblower claims relating to COVID-19 compliance issues.

Kerbaugh represents life sciences and medical device companies ranging from small private companies to multinational, publicly traded corporations in employment and commercial litigation and advises them on employment issues.

Kerbaugh joined Saul, Ewing, Arnstein & Lehr in March after nearly 13 years at other firms, citing its “reputation as a top-notch, full-service law firm.”

Since 2014, Kerbaugh has served as an adjunct associate professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, teaching legal writing and research and oral advocacy.

“It’s great to watch students develop as writers over the course of the year and then to watch them go into practice and become successful attorneys,” Kerbaugh said.

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

A: I always appreciate when someone starts a conversation by telling me a little about them or how their day is going. It provides an opportunity for discussion that allows a connection on a personal level. Personal connections are important in all relationships, with a client, a colleague, opposing counsel or whomever.

Q: Why did you go to law school?

A: I went to law school because I wanted to help people. As a law student, I didn’t know who I wanted to help yet. But given that I grew up in and worked for a couple of family businesses, it seemed natural that I found my way to employment law and commercial litigation.

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

A: “How Much of These Hills Is Gold” by C Pam Zhang.

Q: What’s your pet peeve?

A: When people block the moving walkway at the airport.

Q: What’s the best part of your work?

A: Trial victories are perhaps the best part, to see the effort you’ve put in pay a great dividend and get a good result for the client. But those little day-to-day victories are likewise rewarding.

Q: What do you least like about it?

A: I don’t know if there’s any attorney who doesn’t think that time entry is the least fulfilling part of the job.

Q: What’s a favorite activity away from work?

A: I love music, whether it’s listening to albums, attending live shows or playing one of the guitars in my collection.

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

A: I’m originally from a suburb of La Crosse, which is a gorgeous area. I’d take them for hike in the bluffs or a walk along the Mississippi River.

Q: Is there an attorney or judge whom you most admire? Why?

A: I’ve been privileged to work with and appear before so many top-notch attorneys and judges that I couldn’t single out one or a few. I feel fortunate to be practicing in Minnesota. The pool of competent skilled, professional and collegial attorneys and judges here runs very deep.

Q: What’s a misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?

A: Given my litigation work, people tend to think that I’m in the courtroom all the time. A lot of folks don’t realize that a big portion of what litigators do is done behind a desk or in a conference room.

Q: What’s a favorite novel, movie or TV show about lawyers or the legal profession?

A: One novel that I return to relating to the legal profession is “The Trial” by Franz Kafka. One theme is the extent to which the legal system can seem impenetrable to those experiencing it. It’s a good reminder of the work that attorneys should do to make the justice system as understandable and accessible as possible.


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