Dorsey & Whitney was founded in 1912 when William Lancaster,
a prominent Minneapolis lawyer joined forces with David Simpson, a
Minnesota Supreme Court justice. The pair established their
practice for one very simple reason: the First National Bank of
Minneapolis, of which Lancaster was a director, needed a reliable
law firm to handle its growing business.
Today Dorsey is one of the largest law firms in the United States,
with a client list that includes more than one-third of the Fortune
100 and more than half of Minnesota's public companies. Key clients
include U.S. Bank, General Mills, UnitedHealth Group, 3M, Delta Air
Lines, St. Jude Medical, Hormel, Mayo Clinic, Canon and SUPERVALU
The name Dorsey became connected with the firm in 1913 when James
Dorsey joined as an associate. He took the reins after Lancaster
and Simpson passed away and drove the firm's growth through
expanded corporate, banking and financial services practices. In
fact, Dorsey was so interested in the world of finance, he left the
firm to try his hand at investment banking; eventually he gave that
up and returned to law.
Several partners passed through the Dorsey doors (and across its
letterhead), but the name Dorsey & Whitney was finalized in
1981. At the time, Arthur Whitney, who led the firm's public
finance practice, was one of Dorsey's oldest surviving partners.
The firm's ranks have also included such notable attorneys as
Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, William Prosser and Vice
President Walter Mondale.
General Practice with Boutique Depth in IP
Over the last decade, the firm has dominated the mergers and
acquisitions scene, advising on transactions large and small, from
multinational acquisitions to small family business sales. The
firm's securities litigation and enforcement department is also
highly regarded, having represented financial institutions,
broker/dealers, issuers, underwriters and individuals
And though it is a general practice firm, Dorsey & Whitney's
intellectual property practice ranks right up with most any of the
smaller specialty boutiques. Besides litigation, Dorsey offers
specialized IP services like licensing, patent prosecution and
brand management. It also fields a dedicated team of clean tech IP
attorneys who serve emerging companies (think carbon capture and
sequestering technology, tidal technology, and fuel cells and
People around the world learned Dorsey's name in April 2009, when
the Iowa Supreme Court ruled in favor of Dorsey's plaintiffs in a
landmark decision that overturned the state's ban on same-sex
marriage. The case, which Dorsey handled pro bono in partnership
with Lambda Legal, was an unprecedented victory for marriage
equality in the United States.
But that's not the only reason Dorsey is known internationally. The
firm's small but active international practices are divided into
regional units, including Europe, Canada, Asia-Pacific, Latin
America, India and Israel. The India practice is run out of the
Sydney office; Latin American matters are coordinated between
California and New York; and attorneys across the U.S. and in
London work in the Israeli practice group.
IN THE NEWS
Honoring Walter Mondale
On March 18, 1963, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, in Gideon v.
Wainwright, that all criminal defendants are constitutionally
entitled to legal representation. To celebrate the 50th anniversary
of this landmark decision, the U.S. Department of Justice honored
those who were instrumental in the case, including Dorsey Senior
Counsel Walter F. Mondale. As Attorney General of Minnesota at the
time, Mondale led a group of 23 Attorneys General who submitted an
amicus brief to the Court in support of the right to counsel for
the indigent Clarence Gideon.
According to Thomson Reuters, 2012 was the nineteenth consecutive
year that Dorsey has ranked in the top 10 among all law firms for
the number of U.S. M&A deals completed. The firm ranked fifth
for the number of announced Mid-Market M&A deals (values up to
$500 million) with a U.S. target in 2012. Dorsey ranked sixth for
the number of completed M&A deals with a U.S. target (any size)
A Pro Bono Beacon
2012 marked the twentieth consecutive year that Dorsey met the ABA
Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge by surpassing its commitment to
contribute 3% of billable hours to Challenge pro bono work. Dorsey
lawyers frequently partner with clients in providing pro bono
service. In 2012, Dorsey received the National Legal Aid &
Defender Association's Beacon of Justice Award for its partnership
with client Xcel Energy and Volunteer Lawyers Network in creating
and operating an Expungement Clinic-a legal aid clinic that helps
low income people prepare petitions to have their criminal records
Dorsey Named a "Best Law Firm for Women"
Dorsey was named a "Best Law Firm for Women" by the National
Association of Female Executives and Flex-Time Lawyers, a division
of Working Mother Media. This is the fifth time Dorsey has been
recognized as one of the "Best Law Firms for Women."
Chosen for New Vikings Stadium
Dorsey was selected, after a competitive RFP process, as lead
counsel to the Minnesota Sports Facilities Authority in connection
with the new Minnesota Vikings stadium, set to open in time for the
2016 NFL Season. The Authority, established by the Minnesota
legislature, will be the owner of the stadium and is charged with
its design, construction and operation. The new stadium is one of
the largest and most high-profile Minnesota infrastructure projects
to come along in years.
Workplace Winner Four Years Running
Dorsey was named a winner of the 2012 Alfred P. Sloan Award for
Excellence in Workplace Effectiveness and Flexibility. This is the
fourth consecutive year that Dorsey has received the award, which
recognizes employers that have distinguished themselves through
their workplace programs and practices.