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Cliff Greene to Retire from Greene Espel

MINNEAPOLIS, MN. (September 17, 2020) - Litigation boutique Greene Espel PLLP announces, with mixed emotions, that its co-founder Cliff Greene is retiring from the practice of law to join JAMS, Inc., the world’s largest provider of Alternative Dispute Resolution services.

As Greene Espel partner John M. Baker explained, “Cliff has been an important mentor and colleague for over 30 years. He has demonstrated throughout that time a gift for identifying and implementing creative solutions and other ideas. The firm six of us founded, Greene Espel, is just one of those ideas. We will certainly miss him as he focuses the same creativity on those seeking to resolve disputes outside of courtrooms.”

“I have had the honor to work with Cliff Greene for over 20 years,“ said Chief Operating Officer Laura Broomell. “As a co-founder of the firm, Cliff built and maintained a workplace based on excellence, integrity, and a sense of community that is unmatched at any other firm. Cliff taught me more than anyone about the importance of being a Servant Leader. He has been a mentor, colleague, and friend to every employee and attorney who has worked at the firm over the past 27 years. He and Larry Espel built such a strong foundation that their legacy will continue, and they should be immensely proud that their firm will grow stronger and more excellent well into the future.”

When he co-founded Greene Espel in 1993, Cliff aimed to create a different kind of law firm—a firm where lawyers viewed clients as “our clients,” not “my clients.” He did. Cliff helped build a firm based on founding principles like trust, collaboration, and community. The firm’s culture highlights the work of everyone involved in making a law firm successful. For all these reasons, Minnesota Super Lawyers profiled Cliff’s work in the 2014 cover story, “There’s no I in Greene.”

During his distinguished career, Cliff advocated tirelessly for clients of all types and sizes in the private and public sectors. Large corporations routinely engaged Cliff to try high-profile cases in the areas of employment, securities, and products liability. And local governments reached out to Cliff for help in litigation where significant precedent or public-policy questions were at stake.

“Cliff has been a remarkable friend and was a remarkable asset for us,” said Doug Gronli, former claims manager at the League of Minnesota Cities Insurance Trust. “Cliff became my ‘go to’ man. When we had trouble, he was the person I always thought about to help the League and our member cities find a solution.”

The list of awards Cliff earned over his career is long and varied. Leading legal publications consistently recognized his advocacy—including Best Lawyers in America, Chambers, and Benchmark Litigation. Active in civic affairs as well as the legal community, Cliff received the 2013 Sidney Barrows Lifetime Commitment Award from the Minnesota Cardozo Society, given annually to an attorney or judge who exemplifies excellence in his/her practice, community service, and lifelong learning. In 2020, Cliff received the Transformational Leadership Award from the International Leadership Institute for his work on diversity, equity, and inclusion.

In and out of the office, Cliff believed passionately in mentoring new lawyers. In addition to guiding numerous colleagues through the early stages of their careers, Cliff served as a Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at Mitchell Hamline School of Law, where he taught a new generation of law students with his characteristic wit and charm. Cliff also stayed involved in the community beyond law, including serving as the past President of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota and the Dakotas.

“They say the ultimate leader is not afraid to develop the people around him to the point that they surpass him in knowledge and ability,” said Greene Espel attorney Amran Farah. “I don’t think many of us can ever surpass Cliff in his innate ability to connect with others and tell a compelling story, but I can say he has tried to develop, mentor, and sponsor young attorneys like myself to get close.”

Reflecting on his career, Cliff said, “I want to express my deep appreciation to the many dedicated colleagues I worked with over the years. Together, we built a culture that allowed us to work on significant cases with leaders across business and government. I am thrilled at the firm’s strength across the board. As I move onto a new phase in my career, I will be proud to be a Greene Espel alum and I wish the next generation continued success.”

While Cliff will be missed, his vision helped the firm attract attorneys who serve a world-class client base and succeed for those clients by embodying the values that animated Cliff, Larry Espel, John Baker, and others in founding the firm.

We thank Cliff and we wish him the best.

About Greene Espel PLLP: Clients and legal-industry insiders recognize Greene Espel PLLP as one of the leading boutique law firms in the country. Greene Espel leads Fortune 100 companies, major privately held firms, and state and local government entities through litigation, internal investigations, compliance matters, and dispute-resolution processes with innovation and integrity. To provide clients with the best possible service, the firm threw out the traditional law-firm management model. Every client is a firm client. Every member attorney has an equal vote with respect to firm decisions. The firm’s unique approach attracts and retains top-notch talent who are personally invested in each client’s success.

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