“People don’t appeal this issue and the common interest doctrine is such a well-accepted principal of law,” Larson said.
And yet, thanks to the work done by Larson and assistant attorneys general Adam Welle and Jennifer Kitchak, Minnesota now has a precedent for the common-interest doctrine.
In 2019, Energy Policy Advocates, an environmental interest group, sued the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office for access to electronic communications the group had previously been denied access to.
Larson, now the manager of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office’s Environmental and Natural Resources Division, took the lead on the case.
The initial request was denied because it included conversations with other state attorneys that the state deemed as privileged, Larson explained. This was supported by the district court.
There was just one issue: While the common-interest doctrine is a widely accepted legal practice, the state of Minnesota had yet to decide its application in the state. This caused the Court of Appeals to reverse the lower court’s decision.
Larson then enlisted the help of Welle and Kitchak. Welle offered his expertise on privileges issues and multi-state coordination, since communications with other states were part of the request. To simplify the heavy jargon in their briefs, Kitchak used her sharp brief writing skillset to ensure the language was clear.
Together, the three attorneys successfully argued to the Minnesota Supreme Court that the Energy Policy Advocates’ request would violate privilege, causing the court to ultimately decide that it was time to define the common-interest doctrine’s use in Minnesota.
“It’s one of the things that I like most working at the office — I get to work on lots of things that one way set precedent or are just really interesting,” Larson said, later adding, “We do get to be the leaders on various issues.”
Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2022 here.