Brenda M. Sauro & Adina R. Bergstrom: Celebrating a Decade of Legal Excellence

By H.K. Wilson

For Brenda M. Sauro and Adina R. Bergstrom, founders of Sauro & Bergstrom, PLLC, 2022 is a milestone year, as it marks the firm’s decennial anniversary. With a focus on plaintiff ’s representation in the areas of construction defect and insurance claims, Sauro, Bergstrom and their associates have recovered more than $33 million for clients over the past 10 years. Both are leaders who give back to the legal community via service to key organizations, and both have earned notable professional honors. The partners share a commitment to giving back and cite the time when they choose the firm’s annual charities at the conclusion of each year as one of their favorite meetings.

Sauro centers her practice on assisting commercial and residential property owners, condominiums and townhome associations with moisture intrusion, construction defect and insurance disputes ranging from fires to collapse. She also handles claims involving partnership disputes and real estate non-disclosure. Her practice includes work across the state of Minnesota, Western Wisconsin and corresponding state and federal courts. Her extensive litigation background includes having tried many cases to either a jury, arbitrator or court conclusion, with notable jury verdicts and arbitration awards in the six and seven figures, legal fee awards and orders of rescission. Sauro is also frequently called upon in her capacity as an arbitrator and mediator.

In the beginning, one of most empowering things was knowing that we were creating something new.

Bergstrom’s practice focuses upon representing condominium and townhome associations and business owners in a variety of insurance disputes, including storm, fire, collapse, water damage, vandalism, embezzlement, theft and other complex claims. With over 25 years of experience solving insurance coverage issues, she routinely handles large losses, bad faith claims, insurance appraisals, appeals, and fraud and arson cases. A seasoned litigator, she routinely handles cases in both state and federal court, including the appellate courts of Minnesota and the Eight Circuit Court of Appeals. She further serves as a AAA arbitrator as well as an umpire and appraiser on insurance cases. Bergstrom currently serves as chair of the ABA’s Property Insurance Law Committee.
Sauro and Bergstrom’s professional paths mingled at a previous firm, where their complementary practices and shared values inspired them to start their own legal enterprise. From the beginning, their mission was a simple one: to help people.

“Our vision has been to do it in a cost-effective manner with good, solid legal representation at the partnership level — not take a bunch of cases and then download them to people who can’t handle them,” Sauro says.

Helping people means helping attorneys and staff too. She continues, “We wanted to create an environment that values a work/life perspective. We both have children, and we have been able to establish that balance for ourselves and our employees. We don’t have formal marble lobbies and expenses that people see on their bills even if they don’t realize it. But we still provide top-notch legal representation on complicated matters.”

Brenda M. Sauro and Adina R. Bergstrom

“We both love the practice of law,” Bergstrom says. “But studies by the ABA show that it’s different for women. Longevity in the profession is not there for women, and many have to make a choice of career or family, like it or not. In some firm environments, it is a choice of whether or not to be a partner. We left to build something that actually worked for us as women attorneys. We’ve also had men work for us. Always, our goal is to accommodate work/life balance and a flexible work schedule.”

When the pandemic happened and moving a case forward involved remote client meetings, a Zoom court trial or arguments to the Court of Appeals via Zoom, these partners were ready to go. Long before COVID made the practice a necessity, Sauro and Bergstrom embraced the concept of working remotely. Upon establishing the firm, they invested in the secure technological infrastructure necessary to support working from home.

 

We built our business and firm around passion.

Brenda Sauro
Brenda M. Sauro

“When a lot of firms were scrambling during the pandemic, we were already set up to work,” Bergstrom says. “We beefed up our tech to make it a little more robust, but everything was already in place. The people who work for us have families and are entitled to have a life. We created our firm to be different right from the beginning, so people could work from anywhere, anytime. We believe we can give our clients the highest possible representation and still be whole human beings. We can raise our own children and be active parts of their lives, giving us the ability to continue our practice for the entirety of our careers.”

Looking back on the results they have generated over the past 10 years, it is clear to see that their innovative approach has paid off.

“Our staff has been with us for over decade and is very experienced,” Sauro says. “What we saw in giving this freedom is that they have remained extremely productive. No one has to sit at work worrying about what is going on with their family. With the pandemic, we have done even more work offsite, and it has reaffirmed our decision to remain flexible.”

“With people working remotely, we have never been concerned about how much work they’re doing,” Bergstrom echoes. “We hire passionate, professional, responsible people who care about our clients as much as Brenda and I do. That underlying passion for what we do drives all our decision making.”

Doing the right thing and taking care of people has created a lasting bond between Sauro, Bergstrom and their staff. Maintaining a welcoming suburban office has freed up resources the firm allocates to benefits like paid time off, retirement, health programs and other bonuses. With a mindful approach to nurturing the physical and mental well-being of everyone on the team, Sauro and Bergstrom insist that employees take time off when they need to.

Adina Bergstrom
Adina R. Bergstrom

“Sometimes we have to force people to take time off,” Bergstrom says. “We have such dedicated workers. It’s not just a job to them. But we’ve never viewed time off as a cost. It’s just the right thing to do, and people who appreciate that are loyal workers. Then we don’t have to use our time and revenue retraining every few months.”

The duo will continue to thoughtfully expand the firm by adding likeminded staff and lawyers. Their busy practice often requires extra hands, and they have explored many models, including hiring experienced lawyers as independent contractors, partnering with other small firms as well as direct hire.

“We’re always looking for strong talent and the same work ethic,” Bergstrom says.
The partnership between Sauro and Bergstrom endures because they come to the practice with many things in common, including an emphasis on communication and collaboration, and an ongoing willingness to embrace change.

“In the beginning, one of most empowering things was knowing that we were creating something new,” Bergstrom says. “We are a committee of two, and we are like-minded and efficient when it comes to business matters. It is gratifying that we have been able to craft something that is not only workable but completely fresh. There has been no pressure around thinking ‘we’ve always done it this way.’ We have taken what worked and tweaked it. As technology changes, we are diligent about adapting with good IT and good staff.”

“We roundtable on cases every morning,” Sauro says. “We don’t want to lose any historical knowledge about a case, and it’s always helpful to have a fresh set of eyes and ears on particular issues. One reason I didn’t want to be solo, is that I value a partner who is equally hard working and smart, who can tell when I’m wrong, suggest something I haven’t thought of or back me up when I need help. I had COVID early in the pandemic and had an appellate brief due. Adina stepped up and brought it across the finish line. That’s the kind of working relationship we have. The way we practice is collaborative, not competitive with one another. We think of this as a team. It helps our clients, and it helps us.”

By weeding out the negative energy that comes with the competitive, “eat-what-you-kill” model, Bergstrom says she and Sauro are able to “leverage the synergy of our professional experience and get better results because of it.”

And getting results for clients is what it’s all about. This small but mighty firm routinely handles six-figure and multimillion-dollar cases, seeing them through to a successful conclusion via settlement, trial, appraisal or arbitration. Sauro and Bergstrom’s robust network of professional and referral sources help to level the playing field in high-stakes, contested matters. In appellate practice, they help to shape cutting-edge law that will ensure justice for generations to come.

Looking back at the accomplishments of the past decade, Sauro and Bergstrom are both present to gratitude. “It is important to us to say thank you to our clients, colleagues and referral sources who have placed their trust and confidence in us over the years,” Sauro says.

“We’ve tried to honor that trust by doing good work,” Bergstrom adds.

Looking forward, the partners remain grounded in the motivation that inspired the firm’s formation. “We built our business and firm around passion,” Bergstrom continues. “It is the reason we show up and what makes our practice very satisfying. Passionately fighting for plaintiffs and property owners, giving them a voice, is the driving factor behind every success.”

Brenda M. Sauro and Adina R. Bergstrom

Sauro & Bergstrom, PLLC

988 Inwood Ave.
North Oakdale, MN 55128
651-389-9915
SauroLaw.com

SERVING MINNESOTA & WISCONSIN

Practice Areas

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