The firm of Gregerson, Rosow, Johnson & Nilan was founded in the 1960s and has endured by building lasting relationships, making the concerns of clients, colleagues and community their concerns. Known for their balance of aggressive representation and innovative legal problem solving, the 12 attorneys who make up this collaborative legal team understand that to be most effective, they must craft solutions with reason, distinction and civility. The named shareholders, David Gregerson, Richard “Ric” Rosow, Mark Johnson and Joseph “Joe” Nilan have been practicing together since 1982, a testament to their harmony of purpose.
A general practice firm large enough to provide for the comprehensive advisory and litigation needs of public and private entities, but small enough to tailor costs and services to accommodate smaller clients, the firm has developed particular expertise in several areas of the law, including surety and fidelity bonds; municipal law; real estate; insurance coverage; business representation; and succession planning.
Richard Rosow has been practicing municipal law for nearly 40 years and is the current president of the Minnesota Association of City Attorneys. Rosow is also a certified real property law specialist, with experience handling real estate matters on behalf of both commercial entities and municipalities. He joined the firm in 1978, attracted by its “work ethic, commitment to excellence and balance in life. We always try to be responsive. We are not the type of practice where we walk out of the door and don’t deal with it again until 8 a.m. the next day. We are proactive attorneys who know what is going on with our clients all the time. Clients have our cell numbers and can call us when they need us. But we’re also supportive of one another within the firm and always ready to jump in and help when needed. At the size we are, no one is ever far from your notice.”
Joseph Nilan has far-reaching experience representing small, large and growing businesses with an array of concerns, including business formation, employment issues, lease negotiations and intellectual property matters. Nilan is also a seasoned trial and appellate litigator, who has appeared in state and federal courts across the country. “I came here after clerking for a large firm and then working with a sole practitioner. I found that neither was for me, and over the years this has proven to be the wise choice. We’ve never had the vision of becoming a big firm or being taken in by a big firm. In a perfect world, we like to stay around 12 to 14 attorneys. If we get much bigger, the dynamics change, and we feel that as we are, we can optimally serve our clients.”
” … We’ve never had the vision of becoming a big firm or being taken in by a big firm. In a perfect world, we like to stay around 12 to 14 attorneys. If we get much bigger, the dynamics change, and we feel that as we are, we can optimally serve our clients.”
Dan Gregerson works with regional and national surety clients, advising them about their bond obligations, litigating matters when necessary, and working to recover losses from at-fault parties. Gregerson also maintains an active practice in construction disputes, where he represents individuals, municipalities and individual contractors. “I have known the partners of the firm for the majority of my life, since my father is a partner here. It has been great to have the opportunity to practice alongside my father, and I like the hands-on environment a smaller firm provides. There are a lot of construction lawyers, but not many in my niche area of surety, and I’ve been able to cultivate a thriving practice here.”
Dan Ellerbrock is an associate who clerked for judges in both state and federal courts prior to joining the firm four years ago. Working with shareholders Mark Johnson and Joshua Dorothy, Ellerbrock devotes a substantial portion of his practice to fidelity and other insurance coverage matters, advising insurers about their obligations under a policy and litigating issues regarding an insured’s right to coverage in jurisdictions across the country. Ellerbrock also has experience litigating other matters. “One of the things that led me here was the opportunity to practice in a small firm environment and make a personal investment in everything I’m working on. I get the chance to know each client and know the details of each case. I take personal pride in the work I’m doing every day.”
At this firm, clients are known by their first names, and personal communication is preferred. “I regularly get calls on weekends and even on vacation, but it doesn’t bother me,” Nilan said. “I believe in more personal contact than texting and email. I encourage clients to use the phone and actually talk about their concerns. On a more personal note, I go to baptisms, marriages and funerals, and I consider clients as much friends as clients.”
Clients benefit from a legal culture that promotes respectful relationships and teamwork within the firm as well. Rosow adds, “We oft en speak in terms of pulling in the same direction. There’s no incentive here to maintain clients in a manner that you are the only one who has contact. There is incentive for all of us to collaborate, do our best work and keep clients happy. We believe that when one of us does well, we all do well. And that arises from the trust we have for one another on a personal level.”
While the firm maintains many long-term client relationships, it is also vigilant about creating new ones and expanding its offerings to accommodate the changing needs of existing clients and the shifting trends in business. “Just because we’re busy today, we never sit back and take our success for granted,” Rosow continues. “Our client base changes with time, and new clients are frequently referred to us. We look for ways to provide quality service in a manner we can be proud of and open new practice areas generated by the needs of our clients.
“My favorite story in this regard is about a very large client Joe Nilan represents,” he continues. “He got them because he was litigating against them and won against the large firm that represented them at the time. Afterward, they called and said, ‘We’d like you to represent us.’ They wanted him not just for their litigation, but also for their corporate matters. He made that kind of impression. That client has been with us since 1989. The highest compliment in this business is when the other side wants you to represent them.”
By adhering to the highest standards of professionalism and courtesy, the firm of Gregerson Rosow has earned a reputation for collegiality and purposeful problem solving. “I’ve found that being competent and zealously representing your client does not mean you cannot be polite,” said Rosow.
“Many times I’ve seen my colleagues here pick up the phone and talk with an opposing attorney or take them out to lunch,” Ellerbrock said. “There is a real understanding here that treating people fairly and with respect goes a long way in achieving results for our clients.”
“There is a real understanding here that treating people fairly and with respect goes a long way in achieving results for our clients.”
“We treat this as a profession, not a trade,” Gregerson added. “We expect to see the same men and women across the table for the next 30 years. We can disagree on the merits of a case, but within the confines of reasonableness and civility.”
Flexibility is key in serving their clients’ best interests. Whether it involves being available during off hours or creating individualized fee structures, the attorneys at Gregerson Rosow will stretch to meet the need. “We want to be as helpful as we can,” Rosow explained. “If something is preventing us from being called in early enough to provide the resources needed to resolve a problem before it gets larger, we want to address that and adjust. This includes discussions regarding fee structures that work best for the client, adjusting my schedule to meet their individual needs, and meeting at times and places convenient for the client.”
There is also flexibility within the firm, in terms of accommodating the demands and joys of life beyond the law. Gregerson commented, “I think one of the reasons this firm has been successful for so long is that we recognize the importance of having a family life. Many young lawyers at larger firms get burned out. Here, we want to develop good lawyers, but also good people with a well-balanced life.”
The attorneys of Gregerson Rosow show up as good people in the community, with a service-minded spirit that inspires them to volunteer, provide leadership and give of their resources to make life better for Minnesotans. “We work really hard to be a part of the community we represent, so we’re not just viewed as someone who is here to offer legal advice,” Rosow said.
Collectively, these attorneys express a passion and excitement for the law that drives them to do their best work. Nilan said, “I enjoy what I do, and I enjoy the clients I represent. I still love coming to the office every day and being confronted with another problem to solve in a way that is of real service to my client. This is the hallmark of what we do.”