150 South Fifth Street
Minneapolis, MN 55402
- Agribusiness Litigation
- Environmental Law
- Land Use
- Mining and Mineral Management
- Real Estate Litigation
- Regulated Industries
- Trust and Estate Litigation
Byron Starns began his legal career in 1969 at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office trying highway condemnation and license revocation cases around the state. Later he tried cases and argued appeals in the State Solicitor General’s Division, primarily defending constitutional challenges to state laws. Beginning in 1973, Byron was the state’s lead trial lawyer in what became the longest environmental enforcement trial in state history, U.S. v. Reserve Mining Co. That case was tried daily in U.S. District Court from August 1973 through May 1974, followed by a one-month remand trial on remedy in the summer of 1974. Byron argued eleven appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in this landmark case. After the Reserve trial, Byron served as Minnesota’s Chief Deputy Attorney General, where he was responsible for management of the 150-lawyer office. As Chief Deputy, he continued to handle cases, including two that were argued in the U.S. Supreme Court (Contract Clause and Equal Protection Clause issues).
Byron joined Leonard, Street and Deinard in the fall of 1979. During his decades with the firm, Byron has handled a wide range of major litigation and held senior management positions. His cases at the firm have included commercial disputes, construction and design professional liability cases, intellectual property disputes, contested divorces, antitrust class actions, product liability, environmental enforcement and cost recovery suits, contested utility and energy matters, condemnation proceedings, and consumer protection and business regulation enforcement proceedings before state and federal agencies. He has led litigation teams for major matters involving related cases in multiple jurisdictions and massive document and deposition discovery throughout the country. Each of these cases involved hard- fought discovery and privilege litigation, extensive expert witness preparation and discovery, and highly effective document management systems that are characteristic of major, hotly contested litigation.
Both at the Attorney General’s Office and at the firm, Byron has stayed with his cases from initial pleadings through final appeals, several lasting a decade or more.
Byron has been named among The Best Lawyers in America in commercial litigation, energy law, environmental law, water law, mining law and personal injury litigation defense. Byron is listed as a “litigation leader” in Benchmark Litigation and has also been selected for inclusion in Super Lawyers®.
Professional and Civic Activities
- Chair, Leonard, Street and Deinard’s Litigation Division, 2002 to May 2008
- Founding Chair, Leonard, Street and Deinard’s Public and Environmental Law Department, through 1995
- Chief Deputy Attorney General, State of Minnesota, 1974–1979
- Deputy Attorney General, Minnesota Pollution Control Agency, 1973–1974
- Chair, Minnesota Hazardous Substances Injury Compensation Board, 1985–1991
- Trustee, Secretary of Board of Trustees, St. Paul Academy and Summit School, 1999–2011
- Board of Directors, Minnesota Center for Environmental Advocacy, 2007–2009
- Advisory Board, University of Minnesota Joint Degree Program in Law, Health and the Life Sciences, 2004–present
- Board of Directors, Vice President and President, Town & Country Club, Saint Paul, Minnesota, 2000–2006
- Rocky Mountain Mineral Law Foundation
- J.D., University of Chicago Law School, 1969
National Merit Scholar; President, Rugby Club
- B.A., Duke University, 1966
Angier B. Duke Scholar; Captain, Lacrosse Team
- State of Minnesota
- State of Illinois
- U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota
- U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit
- U.S. Supreme Court