John W. Ursu

Partner

Overview

John Ursu builds winning strategies in major cases. In recent years, John has led teams that achieved threshold dismissals in cases involving more than $5 billion of potential liability, including third-party complaints in multidistrict litigation and consolidated state litigation, putative class actions, a CAFA-removed mass action and a consolidated mass-tort state action. Recently, he secured complete victory at a final arbitration hearing on behalf of a manufacturer defending antitrust-whistleblower claims. As a client once said, “You could hire someone else to set the strategy for your case. But why take the risk?”

John’s approach drives results. In 2020, John led a multi-office team of commercial, intellectual-property and white-collar attorneys that stopped an attempted $14.25 billion fraud on the State of Indiana in connection with the procurement of 3M’s N95 respirators. Previously, John represented a large corporate plaintiff in multidistrict litigation where, as a court-appointed member of the plaintiff’s executive committee, he helped secure a $217 million judgment at trial and, ultimately, a $1.5 billion settlement on behalf of U.S. corn farmers. Cases John has led have been featured in the Financial Times, Wall Street Journal and USA Today.

According to Benchmark Litigation, John is an “extremely eloquent” oral and written advocate who has “made a name for himself managing complex business disputes.” As an oral advocate, he argued and won an industry-defining case on the preemptive scope of the U.S. Grain Standards Act on behalf of a joint-defense group composed of the largest grain handlers and exporters in the world. Likewise, he argued and won remand for 10,000 cases removed under the federal common law of foreign relations on behalf of a joint-prosecution group in multidistrict litigation. John has argued against a U.S. Supreme Court clerk seven times — in venues from Louisiana to Kansas City — and has won each time.

John is a creative and effective trial advocate. Over two decades, he has sat in nearly every seat in the courtroom — from federal law clerk to first-chair trial lawyer — over the course of more than 20 trials and arbitrations. During that time, he has examined three CEOs at trial, final hearing and deposition; prompted an antitrust whistleblower to recant his allegation of an antitrust violation on the stand; cross-examined a cocaine dealer turned state’s evidence; and tried a reinsurance case arising from Hurricane Katrina in Hattiesburg, Mississippi. During one opening statement, John demanded an apology from the CEO of the opposing party; he received it, after a fashion, when the plaintiff dismissed the material parts of a $30 million fraud claim before the evidence began.

Best Lawyers in America has repeatedly recognized John for his national commercial practice. In 2019, John was one of 18 lawyers nationwide — and the only lawyer in Minnesota — to be named a BTI Client Service All-Star MVP, which “honors the individuals able to stand out in the sea of legal services providers to represent the cream of the crop.” To be a BTI Client Service All-Star, a lawyer must be “single[d] out . . . by name and in an unprompted manner — as delivering the absolute best client service. . . . Clients have the final — and only — say.”

John graduated from the University of Michigan Law School, where he was managing editor of the Michigan Law Review and the Campbell Moot Court champion. He serves on the board of directors of Neighborhood Justice Center, one of Minnesota’s oldest public-defender organizations.

Credentials

Bar Admissions

Minnesota

Clerkships

U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota, Hon. Richard H. Kyle, 2002-2004

Education

University of Michigan Law School
J.D. Michigan Law Review (managing editor) (2002)

University of Exeter
M.A. in Criticism and Theory (1996)

Kenyon College
B.A. in English (1992)

Leadership & Community

Professional Associations

  • Neighborhood Justice Center, Board Member

Honors

  • Best Lawyers® — Commercial Litigation, 2018-20, 2022
  • Faegre Drinker — Pro Bono Honor Roll, 2020
  • Benchmark Litigation —  Litigation Star, 2010-21; Future Star, 3rd-5th Editions
  • Minnesota Super Lawyers —  2019-21; Rising Star, 2011-12
  • BTI Client Service All-Stars — MVP, 2019
  • BTI Client Service All-Stars — 2018-19
  • Minnesota Lawyer — Up & Coming Attorney, 2011
  • University Michigan Law School — Champion, 78th Annual Henry M. Campbell Moot Court Competition, as awarded by Judge Frank Easterbrook (7th Cir.), Judge Steven Reinhardt (9thCir.) and Barbara Underwood, former Acting Solicitor General for the United States (2002)
  • Michigan Law Review — Managing Editor, Vol. 100, 2001-02
  • Jason L. Honigman Award — for the greatest contributions to the Michigan Law Review, 2002
  • James A. Dykema Award — the election to the editorial board of the Michigan Law Review, 2001

 Awards Methodology

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