William Mitchell College of Law, LL.B, 1965, Cum Laude, With Honors

St. Olaf College, B.A., 1961

Bar & Court Admissions

  • Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court District of Minnesota
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit
  • U.S. Supreme Court


  • Honorable Douglas K. Amdahl, Hennepin County District Court
  • Honorable Robert J. Sheran, Minnesota Supreme Court
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Sam Hanson is a member of the firm's Business Litigation and Energy sections and Appellate practice group. After serving on the Minnesota Court of Appeals for two years and the Minnesota Supreme Court for five years, he rejoined Briggs and Morgan. Sam is a former firm president, managing partner and vice president, as well as former head of the Business Litigation section and a former member of the board of directors. Sam practices principally in the areas of:

  • Arbitration and mediation
  • Complex civil litigation
  • Appellate law
  • Public utility regulation

Sam's representative cases include: 

  • Davies v. Waterstone Capital Management, LP, 856 N.W.2d 711 (Minn. Ct. App. 2015) (further review denied, Minnesota Supreme Court; cert. denied U.S. Supreme Court); successfully reversed district court decision and vacated arbitration award of $11 million arising from the termination of a high performing trader for our hedge fund client.
  • In Re Estate of Boyd, 2016 WL76444 (Minn. Ct. App. 2016); successfully reversed district court decision dismissing stepson’s objections to stepfather’s will, which did not honor the deceased mother’s wishes that her husband devise her previously separate property to her son after her husband’s death.
  • Dew Corporation v. Mathwig Development Co., 2010 WL1541294, (Minn. Ct. App. 2010); successfully reversed district court decision and established priority of $32 million dollar mortgage lien against $8 million dollar mechanics lien for condominium development project.
  • In re denial of variance granted to Robert W. Hubbard, 778 N.W.2d 313 (Minn. 2010); successfully argued that DNR lacked statutory authority to deny certification of variance granted by municipality for construction on the St. Croix River.
  • Interstate Power Co. v. Nobles Cty. Bd., 617 N.W.2d 566 (Minn. 2000); successfully overturned attempt of County Board to prevent utility’s upgrade to existing transmission lines by amending county’s zoning ordinance to change set-back requirements.
  • Northern States Power Co.,Arbitration (1999); successfully defeated $50 million claim by Manitoba Hydro Electric Company for additional fees under an electric power agreement.

Sam practiced law with Briggs and Morgan for 34 years before he was appointed to the Court of Appeals in 2000. He has had extensive experience in both the state and federal courts in Minnesota, as well as courts in many other states in the region. He has worked closely with several major corporate clients, including telephone, gas and electric utilities; insurance companies; financial institutions; and multinational manufacturing and service corporations.

Honors & Awards

  • David Graven Public Service Award, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2014
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, St. Olaf College, 2012
  • Attorney of the Year, Minnesota Lawyer, 2011, 2017
  • Fellow, American Academy of Appellate Lawyers, 2009
  • Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree, William Mitchell College of Law, 2008
  • Professional Excellence Award, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2008
  • Super Lawyer, Minnesota Super Lawyers
  • Outstanding Service to the Profession Award, Minnesota Lawyer, 2007
  • Hon. Ronald E. Hachey Outstanding Alumni Award, William Mitchell College of Law, 2002
  • Fellow, American College of Trial Lawyers, 1982
  • Advocate, American Board of Trial Advocates, 1993
  • Distinguished Alumni Award, William Mitchell College of Law, 1995
  • Public Service Award, Minnesota Trial Lawyers Association, 1991
  • Litigation Star, Benchmark Litigation: Appellate.
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Appellate Law, Commercial Litigation
  • Top 100 and Leading Minnesota Attorney, Minnesota Super Lawyers
  • Chambers USA: Litigation: Appellate, Senior Statesmen
  • North Star Lawyer, Minnesota State Bar Association


  • Bearder v. State (privacy of genetic information) - Minnesota Supreme Court held that state privacy act restricts collection, use, storage and dissemination of blood samples collected pursuant to newborn screening statutes.
  • Glorvigen v. Cirrus Design Corp. (product liability, scope of duty to warn)
  • In re Hubbard (administrative law, reversing agency's decision) - Minnesota Supreme Court limited agency rulemaking by holding that rules adopted by the Department of Natural Resources were invalid.
  • Medical Staff of Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center v. Avera Marshall (amicus representation on appeal - enforceability of hospital by-laws)
  • United Prairie Bank-Mountain Lake v. Haugen Nutrition & Equipment (attorneys’ fee award arising from contract)
  • Whitaker v. 3M Co. (amicus representation - class action certification)
  • Obtained $20 million judgment against mining company for power company following trial.
  • Represented business owner in stockholder dispute litigation involving total disposition of company's assets and successful collection after opposing party declared bankruptcy.
  • Represented electric utilities in ratemaking proceedings before state public utilities commissions and public service commissions.
  • Represented electric utility in appeal of a rate case order to the Minnesota Court of Appeals and Minnesota Supreme Court.
  • Represented multiple Fortune 500 companies as amici curiae before the Minnesota Court of Appeals in age discrimination class action.

Professional Affiliations

Federal Magistrate Judge Merit Selection Panel, Co-Chair, 2014

Minnesota Board of Public Defense, Board Member

Minnesota Supreme Court

  • Children’s Justice Initiative, Advisory Committee, Co-Chair, 2005-2007
  • Legal Services State Planning Committee, Lawyers Trust Account, Member
  • Board and Legal Services Advisory Committee, 2005-2007
  • Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure, Chair, 2002-2005
  • Gender Fairness Implementation Committee, Chair, 2002-2005
  • Board of Legal Certification, Member, 2002-2005
  • Legal Services State Planning Commission, Co-Chair, 2002-2005
  • Advisory Committee on the General Rules of Practice, Member, 2002-2005
  • Board of Law Examiners, Member, 1995-2002
  • Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Appellate Procedure, Member, 1984-1990, 1997-2000

Minnesota State Bar Association

  • Task Force on the Future of Legal Education, Co-Chair, 2014-Present
  • Public Utilities Section, Founder, Former Chair, 1994–Present
  • Women and the Law Committee, Co-Chair, 1994–1997

National Conference of Bar Examiners

  • Director, 2001–2010
  • Secretary, 2007
  • Vice Chair, 2008
  • Chair, 2009

Minnesota Advocates For Human Rights, Director; Member, Executive Committee, 1999–2010

United States District Court, Civil Justice Reform Act Advisory Committee, 1995- 1998

William Mitchell College of Law Board of Trustees

  • Director, 1995–2006
  • Chair, 2002–2004
  • Secretary, 1998-2000
  • Vice Chair, 2000–2002

Global Volunteers, Co-Founder; Director, 1983–2010

Crossroads Adoption Services, Director, 1984–2002

Rural Technology Partnership (Formerly Minnesota Family Farm Institute), Director, 1987–1997

Institute of Cultural Affairs (ICA), Director, 1988–1996

Rural Ventures, Inc., Director, 1981–1987