Mike Ciresi leaving RKMC with Jan Conlin; law firm plans new name

Mike Ciresi is leaving Minneapolis-based law firm Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi to start his own firm with RKMC partners Jan Conlin and Katie Crosby Lehmann.

They’ll leave Feb. 1 to start Minneapolis-based Ciresi & Conlin.

Ciresi, a trial lawyer, has been with the law firm that bears his name for 44 years, first as a clerk during law school and then as name partner and former chairman. The law firm said he’s won rulings worth nearly $12 billion for clients.

“The feeling of comfort and convenience is always overcome by challenge and the unknown,” Ciresi said in an interview. “You broaden yourself by always aspiring to do something new.”

Conlin is an intellectual property and business litigator who chairs the law firm’s business litigation group. Crosby Lehmann is a business litigator with a focus on patents.

Ciresi said the split with RKMC was amicable and that Ciresi & Conlin’s smaller platform will give the three lawyers greater flexibility to work with more clients and law firms and support their own philanthropic causes.

“We’re a little bit troubled by the fact that the profession is becoming too commercialized and people are losing sight of what it is we actually do,” he said. “Our aspiration is to protect the future of our clients and the community.”

The law firm will have up to seven lawyers to start and an office “fairly high up” in downtown Minneapolis’ Capella Tower, Ciresi said.

RKMC will likely change its name to Robins Kaplan early this year, RKMC Chairman Marty Lueck said in a news release.

“We thank Mike, Jan and Katie for all of their past contributions and wish them continued success in their endeavors,” Lueck said in a prepared statement. “It is our expectation that there may be opportunities to work collaboratively in the future on common client matters. … Our discussions with Mike have afforded us the opportunity to plan for this change.”

Ciresi expects his new firm to work with law firms around the world, but also help those in need in Minnesota. He’ll continue to serve as chair and president of the Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children, which will retain its name and continue to work with the law firm’s private foundation. Together, the two foundations have made more than $40 million in grants since 2000.

Conlin and Crosby Lehmann will set up their own foundations, Ciresi said, and the law firm will devote resources and profits toward the three charitable arms.

RKMC is the eight-largest law firm in the Twin Cities by attorney count, with about 145 lawyers in the metro and 55 partners, according to the most recent Business Journal ranking.

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Minneapolis / St. Paul Business Journal