Randall E. Kahnke, Michael A. Ponto, Martin S. Chester, Christopher H. Dolan and Zachary L. Stephenson have been named 2012 Attorneys of the Year by Minnesota Lawyer.
The publication recognized lawyers who distinguished themselves in 2012 through leadership in the profession, involvement in a major case, excellence in corporate or transactional services, and service to the judicial system in Minnesota.
Commercial litigator Kahnke was acknowledged for his three significant trial victories in sizable, diverse cases and jurisdictions in 2012, successfully: defending Allianz Life against a breach of contract claim, including winning an attorneys' fee award; defending a retired Berkeley-trained physicist against breach of contract and trade secrets claims; and representing W.L. Gore & Associates on breach of contract and trade secrets claims against General Electric Energy.
Kahnke's skill cross-examining the opposing sides' CEOs was cited by Minnesota Lawyer as a critical advantage for his clients, with the judge in one trial saying his only regret was that Kahnke's cross-exams were not captured on video to train future lawyers. Kahnke emphasized that the results obtained on behalf of his clients flowed from great teamwork and substantial contributions from colleagues.
Ponto, Chester, Dolan, and Stephenson were recognized as part of the group of 12 lawyers who worked on both sides of the Anoka-Hennepin School District bullying case, as well as attorneys with the federal government. The four FaegreBD attorneys provided pro bono representation to five students who filed suit in 2011 under Title IX of the Educational Amendments of 1972, the United States Constitution and the Minnesota Human Rights Act, claiming the district did not adequately respond to persistent physical and verbal harassment in its schools based on real or perceived sexual orientation.
The FaegreBD attorneys, along with their co-counsel at the Southern Poverty Law Center, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the law firm of Culberth & Lienemann LLP, worked with attorneys for the Anoka-Hennepin School District and for the federal government to craft a court-ordered consent decree that is a national model for preventing harassment of students who are or perceived to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender (LGBT) and gender non-conforming, as well as those who have friends or parents who are LGBT.
Minnesota Lawyer published a special section featuring the honorees on Feb. 25, 2013, and hosted an awards presentation on Feb. 21, 2013.