Greene Espel is one of five law firms ranked in the top tier of “highly recommended” litigation firms in the state of Minnesota, according to the just-released 2010 edition of Benchmark Litigation. The Benchmark guide recognizes a dozen Minnesota firms that “were consistently mentioned by peers and clients,” but says that the firms in the “highly recommended” top category “were held as dominant in their particular jurisdiction.”
Greene Espel is the only litigation boutique among the top five firms. The other four firms – Dorsey & Whitney, Faegre & Benson, Leonard Street & Deinard, and Robins Kaplan Miller & Ciresi – all have between 175 and 350 Minnesota lawyers. Greene Espel, with 20 lawyers, is a “boutique that excels in various areas including white-collar criminal defense, environmental law, intellectual property, and product liability,” according to Benchmark. “The firm is known to hire accomplished attorneys who have served in judicial clerkships and government agencies,” says the guide. Indeed, 13 of the firm’s 20 lawyers served as judicial law clerks before joining the firm. “Terrific, marvelous firm,” says a Greene Espel competitor quoted in Benchmark. “They belong on this list.”
In addition to rating firms, the 2010 Benchmark guide recognizes 40 “local litigation stars” – individual lawyers who were “recommended consistently” by clients and peers. Three Greene Espel lawyers – Cliff Greene, Larry Espel, and Andy Luger (former attorney) – made the list, and a fourth – John Ursu – earned his second straight recognition as a Benchmark “Future star.” Benchmark notes Cliff’s commercial, product liability, appellate, employment, and government and constitutional litigation practices. It recognizes Larry’s class action, commercial, construction, environmental, and product liability practices. And in noting Andy’s business litigation and white-collar crime practices, Benchmark quotes a competitor describing Andy, a former Assistant United States Attorney, as “a real tenacious prosecutor, knows his way around the courtroom, which a lot of lawyers don’t anymore. He tries cases – not every litigator does that.”
Greene Espel was founded in 1993 by trial lawyers who had built successful practices with a large Minneapolis law firm. They wanted to continue to handle sophisticated litigation, but in the context of a small boutique environment, where every client is a firm client and where the firm is nimble and efficient in meeting client needs. Many of Greene Espel’s members joined the firm after having achieved success at large firms, as Assistant United States Attorneys, or in judicial clerkships. Greene Espel has been described as a litigation boutique that “only recruits the absolute top talent” to maintain its reputation as “a highly selective and gifted group of lawyers” (Chambers USA).
Benchmark Litigation, which focuses exclusively on litigation in the United States, conducted a review of case work and interviewed clients and lawyers over a six-month period to rate litigation firms in all 50 states.