Tom “best exemplifies the pursuit of the practice of law as a profession, including a spirit of public service and promotion of the highest possible level of competence, integrity and ethical conduct.” Hennepin County Bar Association Attorney Professionalism Award
Tom "best exemplifies the pursuit of the practice of law as a profession, including a spirit of public service and promotion of the highest possible level of competence, integrity and ethical conduct," Hennepin County Bar Association Attorney Professionalism Award.
Tom's commitment to service and excellence is long-standing and well-recognized. He was honored by the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit as the Minnesota recipient of the Richard S. Arnold Award for Distinguished Service and Lifetime Achievement. In addition to the Hennepin County Bar Association Professional Award, he was recognized as an Attorney of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer in 2015, and was recently recognized again as a 2020 Attorney of the Year for his Outstanding Service to the Profession. He served as the president of the Minnesota State Bar Association during its 2019-2020 term, and served earlier as the president of the Hennepin County Bar Association.
Tom served as chair of the HCBA Bar Memorial Committee for several years and still serves as a committee member, and was recognized by our firm as the recipient of its annual Pro Bono Award for Outstanding Legal Service in the Public Interest, arising out of his work with the University of Minnesota Law School Guantanamo Defense Project. He was invited to participate in the MSBA delegation to Cuba, visiting the National Union of Cuban Jurists. He served on the Board of Directors of Minnesota CLE, and founded the "Vintage Lawyers Group," introducing new and young lawyers to "vintage lawyers" in social as well as substantive settings. He has served for several years on the Minnesota Federal Court History Committee including as chair. Along the way, he co-chaired the panel for the Eighth Circuit Judicial Conference on "Baseball and the Law" at Target Field, home of the Minnesota Twins.
Tom's dedication to diversity, equity and inclusion also runs deep. He was named as our firm's Champion of Diversity and Inclusion for 2019, and was selected by Minnesota Lawyer as a 2018 Diversity and Inclusion Honoree, in the "Legacy" category. He was recently re-appointed to the MSBA Diversity & Inclusion Leadership Council, after having served on the council prior to his MSBA presidency. He also served on the Diversity and Inclusion Task Force of the Federal Bar Association's Minnesota Chapter, as well as on the board of directors of the Givens Foundation for African American Literature, Global Rights for Women, and Twin Cities Diversity in Practice. He is the co-founder of the Collaborative Legal Community Coalition, a profession-wide group dedicated to remembering, honoring and learning from the 1920 Duluth lynchings of Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Isaac McGhie.
His community service has included serving on the board of trustees of the Landmark Center in St. Paul, which served for many years as the location of Minnesota's U.S. District Court; and also on the board of trustees of the American Swedish Institute, including serving as chair. He was honored as the recipient of the St. Olaf College Outstanding Service Award, and is currently serving as a member of the Bloomington Charter Commission.
Prior to becoming a lawyer, Tom was a teacher and administrator in the innovative and alternative public high school in New Haven, Connecticut, called High School in the Community. After law school, he clerked for two terms (1977 and 1978) for Judge Thomas J. Meskill of the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.
Tom's work on behalf of clients has focused on business and commercial trials and litigation, including federal and state court matters, and also including arbitration and mediation, with a particular interest in design, construction and development. His work has included defending claims arising out of allegedly sinking buildings to sagging roof trusses, as well as product liability claims ranging from table saws to exploding electrical switch gear, natural gas pipelines, and saline-filled breast implants. His employment-related work has included a wide range of non-compete and duty of loyalty litigation; and his insurance and reinsurance work has included STOLI-related federal court litigation, broker professional negligence, coverage disputes, policy analysis, regulatory Department of Commerce matters, space satellite reinsurance brokerage, and Attorney General civil investigative demands. He has also handled matters involving TCE vapor intrusion allegations, pharmaceutical supply contract claims, credit cardholder class action litigation, Trust Instruction Proceedings (TIP), estate-related disputes, mechanical heart valve contract supply disputes, condemnation and adverse possession, and real estate development option agreements. He has also served as an appointed panel member on a multi-week, multimillion dollar computer-related arbitration in Portland, Oregon. His corporate-related work has ranged from brewery-related development and lease negotiations, to the creation of an invention-based emerging engineering corporation, doing business with Native American nations, and law firm or corporate "divorces," break-ups and transitions.
Along the way, Tom has represented a company in a lawsuit brought by Alice the Cat, and also represented two Cairn Terriers named Gus and Loki in their claim against a neighborhood pit bull. He represented a federally imprisoned espionage-related defendant in federal habeas corpus proceedings, and effected the arrest of an ocean-going merchant vessel in the New Haven harbor under applicable maritime law. He has represented Ringling Brothers/Barnum & Bailey Combined Shows in commercial, contract and municipal regulatory matters; and his First Amendment work has included trials and disputes involving AIDS-related as well as alleged mob-related defamation claims against newspapers and opinion-related defamation claims against public officials. It is no wonder that he and others have sometimes described his practice as "Door Law" (meaning, whatever comes in the door).
News & Insights
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Minnesota Lawyer Outstanding Service to the Profession award, 2020
Recognized as a "Lawyer of the Year" by Best Lawyers in America® in Insurance Law in Minneapolis
Named among The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of commercial litigation, insurance law, banking and finance litigation, construction litigation and real estate litigation
Ranked as Local Litigation Star by Benchmark Litigation, 2015 - 2018
Selected every year for inclusion in Super Lawyers®
Included in the national Corporate Counsel Edition of Super Lawyers as one of Minnesota’s top attorneys in business litigation
American Bar Foundation, Fellow
Hennepin County Bar Association Attorney Professionalism Award recipient
Leonard, Street and Deinard Pro Bono Award
Litigation Counsel of America, Inductee
Professional & Civic Activities
Professional & Civic Activities
U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, History Committee
Norway House, Past Board Member
Federal Bar Association, Past Board Member
Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Committee, upon the appointment of then Chief Judge Paul Magnuson of the U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, Past Committee Member
St. Olaf College Alumni Association, Past Board Member
The Playwrights’ Center, Past Board Member
The Izaak Walton League (Bush Lake), Past Board Member
St. Olaf College "Liberal Arts and the Law" Conferences, Past Co-Chair; and Past Co-Chair, "Ole Law," "Ole Biz," and "Ole Med" Conferences
Minnesota State Bar Association, Arts Law Committee, Past (and Founding) Chair
Arts Midwest Task Force on Freedom of Expression, Past Member
Minneapolis Arts Commission, Past Member
Bloomington Parks, Arts and Recreation Commission, Past Member
Bloomington City Council’s Bush Lake Advisory Committee; and also the Bloomington City Council’s Task Force on Public Facilities, past member (leading to the approval, design, construction and completion of Bloomington’s new city hall, police station and public works facility)
Bloomington Charter Commission
West Immanuel Lutheran Church, Star Prairie, Wisconsin; and Mindekirken, the Norwegian Lutheran Church of Minneapolis