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Rider Bennett, LLP was a 47-year-old, Minneapolis-based law firm that closed in May 2007. It was founded in 1960 by Stu Rider, Gene Bennett and Bill Egan, all three of whom had attended the University of Minnesota Law School together. They were later joined by Chet Johnson and Ed Arundel. The firm was known as Rider Bennett Egan Johnson and Arundel for a short time, but for most of its history was known as Rider Bennett Egan and Arundel.
Its lawyers had a long history of public service. Stu Rider led the Minneapolis School Board during the tumultuous 1960s. Later Chief Justice Douglas Amdahl joined the firm after his retirement from the Minnesota Supreme Court. Eric J Magnuson, while a law student, clerked for Judge Amdahl. Ultimately Magnuson, who had served as Rider Bennett's Managing Partner, was appointed Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court by Governor Tim Pawlenty. Pawlenty and his wife Mary were both previously employed by Rider Bennett.
The firm was known for its trial lawyers. Rider and Bennet had been solicitors for the Milwaukee Road. Bill Egan was a well known trial lawyer at Meagher Geer before he founded the firm with his two good friends. Dave Fitzgerald joined soon after and helped to found the Minnesota Defense Lawyers Association. Despite that, he was an aggressive plaintiff's attorney who was known to take on difficult cases that others would not accept. He was soon joined by Dick Nygaard and Rich Krochock. The three of them mentored many lawyers who later became successful trial lawyers. Nygaard tried many product liability cases for John Deere and other manufacturers. Krochock, a tenacious advocate, became the firm's managing partner. Young lawyers flocked to his door for advice and friendship.
Joan S Morrow joined the firm in 1978 and quickly established herself as a premier litigation attorney and led the way for the many women trial attorneys that Rider Bennett produced. Judges Jill F. Halbrooks, Martha Simonett, Louise Dovre Bjorkman, Mary Pawlenty, and Karen Janisch all learned the craft of trial law at Rider Bennett. At one point, Krochock called Governor Arne Carlson and begged him to stop raiding the firm of its young women trail attorneys. Other governors appointed Judges Jonathan Jasper, Robert Awsumb and James Cunningham to the bench. All of them practiced at Rider Bennett. Morrow became one of the first full-time mediators in the state and was chosen repeatedly by Minnesota lawyers to facilitate settlement of cases.
Well known Minneapolis litigator Lewis R. Remele joined Rider Bennett after clerking for Federal Judge Miles Lord about the same time as Magnuson and Greg Weyandt, who had clerked for the chief justice of the Wisconsin Supreme Court the same year Magnuson clerked for Chief Justice Sheran. The three of them became partners the same year and were significantly involved in leading the firm. Remele left to ultimately become the leader of Bassford Remele.
Roger R. Roe and Timothy R. Thornton joined the firm shortly after Krochock. Roe developed as a railroad defense lawyer who also provided significant assistance to Fitzgerald. Thornton, known by judges and lawyers alike as Thunder, quickly developed a unique style that coupled with hard work and wit allowed him to handle cases against lawyers far more experienced. For a time after he left Rider Bennet he was General Counsel of Northwest Airlines and practices at Briggs and Morgan; his presence influenced Magnuson in his choice of Briggs after Rider Bennett closed its doors and after he left the Supreme Court.
Before it closed it was ranked as one of Minnesota's top 10 firms. It had 190 employees.
- Black, Sam; Switzky, Bryant Ruiz (10 April 2007). "Rider Bennett to dissolve". Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal. American City Business Journals. Retrieved 11 November 2017.
- Stawicki, Elizabeth (April 10, 2007) Minnesota Public Radio
- End of Rider Bennett has multiple implications, Twin Cities Business Journal, 13 April 2007