After assembling more than half a dozen top lawyers for the defense of former Starkey Laboratories President Jerry Ruzicka in one of the biggest white-collar trials of the last decade, Conard decided it was time to create a “more well-rounded trial practice. I’d been doing some consulting, and some people were saying, ‘Why not try civil?’ I had known Kaarin when we went to public defender trial school together when we were both baby attorneys. We developed a professional respect and friendship. We talked about what it would look like to start the process of building a trial practice, and before COVID, it became real.”
The duo opened Conard Nelson Schaffer in February 2020, and only a month later, the pandemic shut down much of the world. The resulting political landscape made the time ripe for Conard to seek civil trial opportunities in states where the courts remained open. Applying the same methods that have earned him renown as a criminal defense lawyer, he achieved a record-breaking, multimillion-dollar verdict in his first civil jury trial.
“For me, the chance came in Nebraska, where a firm had a very strong plaintiff’s civil litigation practice. They asked me to come first chair some cases. I hit the ball out of the park on the first case, which allowed me to keep the pace of trials going during the pandemic as everything else slowed down.”
Recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in the nation, Conard is certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association as a criminal law specialist. With a focus on complex white collar and criminal defense matters, he has handled more than 2,000 cases in state and federal courts throughout the country, taking roughly 70 trials to verdict. He has achieved favorable results in cases spanning conspiracy, drug crimes, felony assault, sex crimes, wire fraud and first-degree murder. Conard’s practice also includes professional board representation. He is frequently engaged by other firms as a first chair trial attorney, consultant and trainer.