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 Inc.
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,
Professor William Prosser and Vice President Walter Mondale.
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 next-gen batteries).
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 Hong Kong 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
Ninebot Limited and its affiliates in its business combination with
Segway Inc. Ninebot Limited is a leading Chinese short-distance
personal transportation vehicle maker based in Beijing. Dorsey
advised Ninebot on all phases of this complicated international
transaction, including structuring and financing issues relating to
the transaction, as well as those relating to M&A, regulatory,
real estate and intellectual property.
According to Thomson
Reuters, 2014 was the 21st 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 2014. Dorsey ranked sixth for the number of
completed M&A deals with a U.S. target (any size) in 2014.
Dorsey has received a 100 percent rating-a
perfect score-on the Human Rights Campaign's annual Corporate
Equality Index for the ninth consecutive year. The index measures
employer performance in ensuring fair and open workplaces for
lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender employees and consumers.
office received a silver 2014 Community Impact Award for Pro Bono
Services from the Seattle Business magazine. The Community
Impact Awards honor Washington state businesses and organizations
that are making a tangible, measurable impact on their communities.
In 2014, Dorsey lawyers across the firm performed a total of 37,309
hours of Challenge pro bono work.
Dorsey has once again
earned a place on the 2014 Working Mother & Flex-Time Lawyers
Best Law Firms for Women list. This is the seventh time Dorsey has
been recognized as one of the "Best Law Firms for Women."
Elizabeth Rozon Baksh
has been selected for the 2014 Fellows Program of the Leadership
Council on Legal Diversity, a national organization made up of the
legal profession's top general counsel and managing partners. Ms.
Baksh joins a class of more than 170 attorneys from around the
country who have been selected as LCLD Fellows for 2014-the largest
class in the program's history. Dorsey & Whitney has been a
Member of LCLD since 2011.