Attorney at Law Magazine sat down with recently retired Minnesota Supreme Court Justice David Lillehaug to discuss his transition to back to private practice with Fredrikson & Byron. The news of his decision to rejoin the firm was recently announced in Talk of the Town.
AALM: You’ve rejoined Fredrikson & Byron in a part-time senior role. What can you tell us about your new role and time commitment to your practice?
DL: I’m excited to be back at Fredrikson on a one-third-time basis. It’s a firm where law is practiced with sophistication and integrity. I’d like to focus on internal investigations and complex civil litigation, and seven years on the Court should serve me well as an arbitrator, mediator and special master. I’m also eager to connect with firm associates through training and mentoring. Finally, doing pro bono work is one of the great privileges of being an attorney. Interesting cases tend to find me.
AALM: Please refresh us on your history with the firm before being appointed to the Court.
DL: For eleven years, my bread-and-butter work was litigating major construction and false claims cases and leading sensitive internal investigations. I represented big and small companies, cities, tribal nations, and the University of Minnesota. Eventually I had a role in high-profile political and election matters, including trying and winning a seven-week U.S. Senate election contest before a three-judge panel.
AALM: What led you to decide to resign from the Court?
DL: I loved my work on the Supreme Court! In seven years, I put my full energy into deciding more than 600 cases and 5,000 petitions for review. After being diagnosed with early-stage Parkinson’s, I decided not to run for another six-year term. By working part-time, I can remain intellectually engaged and still carve out time for strenuous physical activity to stay healthy.
AALM: What accomplishments did you make in your seven years served?
DL: Most importantly, I left the Court as I found it: a collegial, professional, nationally respected court of last resort whose opinions announce clear rules of law. Last term, the Court was unanimous more than 70% of the time, and I played some part in that. It’s too early to assess the impact of the 140 opinions I authored, but, to date, legal scholars have focused on those that clarify the standards for motions to dismiss and for summary judgment.