“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.” (Greene Espel COO, Laura Broomell, CLM)
Cliff retired from Greene Espel in October 2020 after advocating tirelessly for clients of all types and sizes. As one of Minnesota's preeminent trial attorneys, Cliff represented clients in complex business, employment, and product liability actions. He also regularly counseled and defended government agencies and officials in disputes involving high-profile claims and significant precedent.
Drawing on his litigation experience, Cliff was regularly retained to arbitrate or mediate disputes and served federal and state courts as Special Master.
Cliff's advocacy on behalf of clients consistently earned recognition from leading legal publications—including Best Lawyers in America, Chambers, and Benchmark Litigation. In 2018, Best Lawyers elected Cliff as the"2018 Minneapolis Litigation - Labor and Employment Lawyer of the Year." Minnesota Super Lawyers also profiled his achievements in the 2014 cover story, “There’s no I in Greene.”
As a thought leader, Cliff maintained a special focus on federal practice and procedure. He was been appointed by three different chief judges of the District of Minnesota to chair the Local Rules Advisory Committee. In 2016, the Chief Judge appointed Cliff to co-chair the federal magistrate Merit Selection Panel. Cliff also taught federal jurisdiction to law students as Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at Mitchell Hamline School of Law.
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.
- Exner v. Minneapolis Public Schools, Special School District No. 1, Henn. Cy Dist. Ct. Case No. 27-cv-14-6149 (May 2015). Obtained Directed Verdict in lawsuit involving defamation and Minnesota Government Data Practices Act claims brought by former employee.
- Paul v. Blaylock Robert Van, LLC, et al., Case No. 13-cv-04068, N.D. Ill (2015). Successful defense of whistleblower, discrimination, and wrongful discharge claims filed by a terminated broker against his financial services employer. Lawsuit voluntarily dismissed in exchange for client-defendants’ agreement not to enforce court imposed sanctions.
- Weber v. Minnesota Sch. of Bus., Inc., No. A14-0831, 2014 WL 7011353 (Minn. Ct. App. Dec. 15, 2014). Successfully argued appeal, upholding jury verdict in favor of whistleblower client.
- U.S. Supreme Court
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
- State Bar of Minnesota
Professional & Community Affiliations
- International Association of Defense Counsel (IADC)
- American Bar Association Foundation, Elected Fellow
- Federal Bar Association
- Mitchell Hamline College of Law: Trustee (2016-current)
- Minnesota Supreme Court Task Force on Racial Bias in the Judicial System
- Chair, Committee on Police-Community Relations (1991-1993)
- Minneapolis Commission on Civil Rights
- Member, Appointed by Mayor Donald Fraser (1982-1985)
- Minneapolis Police Chief Selection Advisory Committee
- Member, Appointed by Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton (1995-1996)
- Jewish Community Relations Council of Minnesota
- President (2010-2012)
- William Mitchell College of Law; Trustee (1997-2006)
- Federal Practice Committee (Minnesota)
- Federal Local Rules Advisory Committee, District of Minnesota; Chair, (1989-2001)
- Minnesota State Bar Association
- Committee on Pro Bono in the Public Sector, Co-Chair (2004-2007)
- Section of Litigation; Founding Member
- Star Tribune opinion piece about the merger of William Mitchell College of Law and Hamline University School of Law
- Co-author, Kunz, et al. The Process of Legal Research (Little Brown, 1992) (First, Second and Third editions)
- Greene, Clifford M., "9 P’s of Billing" included in chapter of Iijima, Ann L., The Law Student’s Pocket Mentor, From Surviving to Thriving: (Wolters Kluwer Law & Business) (Aspen Publishers)
TEACHING AND LECTURING
A natural teacher, Cliff educates judges, lawyers, law students, and clients regarding evidence and trial practice, constitutional law and government litigation, and employment law and litigation. During his career, Cliff has served as "Distinguished Practitioner in Residence" teaching law students Civil Procedure, Federal Courts, Advanced Scientific Evidence and Civil Rights Law.
He has taught programs for national audiences on trial-related topics as a member.
CONTINUING LEGAL EDUCATION
- Attorney Client Privilege For Business Attorneys, HCBA Corporate Council Section (March 2018)
- "Two's Company, Three's a Crowd: Privilege and Confidentiality Issues for Lawyers Representing Multiple Parties", Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (May 2017)
- "Attorney Client and Work Product Privilege For In-House Counsel: Distinguishing Between The Business Advisor and Legal Counselor Roles", MNCLE, Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute (May 2017)
- “Stop Me If You've Heard This One: A Rabbi, a Nurse and a Meteorologist Walk Into A Courtroom"...The Effective Presentation of the Expert Testimony Through Storytelling, course co-chair and lecturer, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (December 2016)
- Protecting the Record: Appellate Considerations For District Court Litigation, Hennepin County Bar Association (September 2016)
- Best Practices for Advocates in Arbitration, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (July 2016)
- Introduction of Keynoter Wes Moore, and Facilitator for "The Other Wes Moore" book Discussion, International Association of Defense Counsel Annual Meeting (July, 2016)
- Litigating Defamation in High Profile Cases: Proof, Privileges, and the Newsperson's Shield, Employment Law Institute (May 23, 2016)
- A Fire-side Chat with Chief Justice Lorie Gildea, 2016 Appellate Practice Institute, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (March 2016)
- Presenting a Compelling Case: Is Dr. Morrow Right? 2016 Appellate Practice Institute, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (March 2016)
- US Supreme Court Land Use Cases, the Key Cases, their Meaning, and the Impact on Your Practice, 2016 Land Use Law and Practice in Minnesota, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (February 2016)
- Whistleblower and the Retaliation Claims in the Public Sector: Key Steps to Effectively Investigate And if Necessary, Litigating Such Claims, 2016 Land Use Law and Practice in Minnesota, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (February 2016)
- “We Laughed, We Cried: Crafting Persuasive Fact Statements in Appellate Briefs," Minnesota Appellate Courts’ Continuing Judicial Attorney Education (“The Quill & Bagel Society”) (May 2015)
- Tough Decision Points in High Profile Public Sector Cases,” Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute (May 2015)
- “Pressure on the [Attorney-Client] Privilege,” course co-chair and lecturer, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education (April 2015)
- “When Bad Things Happen to Good Companies,” annual meeting of client Board of Directors (January 2015)
- "Distinguished Practitioner in Residence" (2018-2019)
- Courses taught:Civil Rights Law (2019); Civil Procedure (2018)
- "Distinguished Practitioner in Residence" (Spring 1998), Adjunct Professor (1983-1984, 2000), Associate Professor (1981-1982)
- Courses taught: Federal Courts and Scientific Evidence, Torts, Litigation in the High Tech Age, Civil Rights and co-coordinated the Legal Research and Writing Program
University of Minnesota Law School
- Adjunct Professor (Summer Semester 2000)
2001 Award from Minnesota Federal Court recognizing 12 Years of Service as Chair of Local Rules Advisory Committee
Appointed Special Master by federal and state courts
Certified Mediator and Arbitrator qualified under State ADR Rule 114 (Civil Roster)
- Business Litigation
- Government and Constitutional Litigation
- Mediation and Arbitration
- Pro Bono
- Products Liability
J.D., Cornell Law School, cum laude; Editor, Cornell International Law Journal
B.A., Harvard College, Government, cum laude, Ames Prize
First Distinguished Practitioner in Residence, William Mitchell College of Law
Popham, Haik, Schnobrich & Kaufman, Ltd., Senior Attorney/Shareholder