Sam Hanson

Managing Partner; Shareholder; Business Litigation

Sam is the firm's managing partner, as well as a former firm president and vice president, former head of the Business Litigation Section and a former member of the firm's board of directors. After serving on the Minnesota Court of Appeals for two years and the Minnesota Supreme Court for five years, he rejoined Briggs’ Business Litigation Section and Energy Law Group, and is a member of the firm’s Appellate Practice Group. Sam practices principally in the areas of:

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

Sam's representative cases include: 

  • 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.

Sam is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, an advocate of the American Board of Trial Advocates and a fellow of the American Academy of Appellate Lawyers. In 2008, William Mitchell College of Law presented him with an Honorary Doctor of Laws Degree (LL.D) for his achievement and excellence in the profession.

Sam was named “Attorney of the Year” by Minnesota Lawyer in 2011. He has been listed in Chambers USA and Minnesota Super Lawyers, as well as in The Best Lawyers in America in the areas of appellate law and commercial litigation. He has been designated one of the “Top 100 Super Lawyers” in Minnesota and named a “Leading Minnesota Attorney.” Sam also has been recognized as a “Litigation Star” by Benchmark Litigation: Appellate.

Sam has been active in professional and community activities and organizations, serving on several Supreme Court boards and advisory committees, the Court’s child protection initiative, and the Court’s planning committee for access to civil legal services; as chair of the state bar association’s Public Utility Section and Women and the Law Committee; and on the boards of several educational and service organizations, including the William Mitchell College of Law board of trustees and the board of directors for Global Volunteers and Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights. He currently serves as a board member for the Minnesota Board of Public Defense.

Sam received his B.A. degree from St. Olaf College, where he majored in economics and history. He received his LL.B. degree cum laude and with honors from the William Mitchell College of Law. While in law school, he served as a law clerk for the Honorable Douglas K. Amdahl (then a district judge in Hennepin County; later chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court). Immediately after graduation from William Mitchell, Sam served as law clerk for the Honorable Robert J. Sheran (then an associate justice and later chief justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court).