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Transitioning from being a leading attorney at Maslon Edelman Borman and Brand, Tom Sipkins is excited and challenged by the work that he is assuming and the learning that he has to do as a Hennepin County District Court judge. He noted, on his appointment on Jan. 21, 2009, by Gov. Tim Pawlenty, how he hoped “that this is the last, best chapter of my life.” Judge Sipkins brings a wealth of experience in the civil arena to this new role.
That experience began where he grew up, in
He left the state to attend
In 1970, Sipkins entered law school at the
Graduating in 1973, Sipkins moved to D.C., where he started his legal career at the U.S. Renegotiation Board. There he specialized in government contracts and Freedom of Information Act litigation. It was as a first-year lawyer for the board that Sipkins second-chaired Grumman Aircraft Engineering Corp v. Renegotiation Board. He participated in writing the briefs and appeared with the assistant solicitor general at the oral argument before the U.S. Supreme Court. It was also during this employment that he became engaged to his wife, Jessica, a Minnesotan (on New Year’s Eve 1974).
Building on his trial experience, Sipkins joined the
Ready for a new challenge, Judge Sipkins moved to the Popham Haik law firm in
Sipkins noted that he wanted to be a judge for a long time, because he “never met a judge who didn’t like the job.” Experienced judges have told him that patience and fairness are two important judicial qualities. He believes that he brings to the bench those qualities as well as his skills as a people-person and a good listener. A major change for Judge Sipkins will be to transition from being a lawyer-advocate to being a neutral. He knows that his role is not to take sides; rather, his job as a trial court judge is to apply the existing law to the facts of each case before him.
While Sipkins’ wealth of experience will make his transition easier for civil cases, this will not occur soon. This is because the first year of his judgeship, as with all new judges, will be spent in the criminal courts, presiding first over misdemeanor and then felony cases.
Sipkins was inspired to attend law school by his grandfather, Charles Sipkins, and his father, Marshall, who did attend law school but dropped out to enlist in the army after
Married for 34 years, Jessica and Tom Sipkins take great pride in their two daughters, Nicole and Alison. Nicole is married to Brad Koranda, a CPA at McGladry & Pullen. She is a first-grade teacher in
Sipkins has been a member of the MSBA, the HCBA, and the Federal Bar Association. He has been selected as a Super Lawyer since 1997 and a Top 40 Employment Lawyer since 2003 by Minnesota Law & Politics.
In his “spare” time, Judge Sipkins enjoys the Vikings and college basketball and hockey games. Of importance to him is the
I am confident that the lawyers who appear before Judge Sipkins will find him to be a good listener, responsive to questions, and devoted to becoming more learned in the law.
1973 J.D., University of Minnesota Law School
1969 B.A., Williams College in Williamstown, Massachusetts
2004-2009: Attorney and partner, Maslon Edelman Borman and Brand
1996-2004: Attorney and shareholder, Halleland Lewis Nilan Sipkins and Johnson
1986-1996: Attorney and shareholder, Popham Haik Schnobrich Kaufman and Doty
1977-1986: Attorney and partner, Peterson Popovich Knutson and Flynn
1975-1977: City of St. Paul staff attorney
1973-1975: Staff attorney, United States Renegotiation Board, Washington, D.C.