Denise S. Rahne


Minneapolis Lawyer Denise Rahne

Denise S. Rahne


Co-Chair, Wealth Planning, Administration, and Fiduciary Disputes Group
Minneapolis Lawyer Denise Rahne


Denise Rahne’s practice focuses on disputes involving estates, trusts, fiduciaries, shareholders, and closely-held corporations. On those matters, she serves corporate and individual clients facing a wide variety of active and potential litigation. A skilled trial lawyer, Denise leads and collaborates on large and mid-size legal teams and has significant experience in traditional and alternative-dispute forums.

Denise is skilled in all areas of active and potential litigation and is adept at leading her clients to successful case resolutions—whether through settlements, summary judgments or, when necessary, full trial or other litigation proceedings. Her approach to legal representation is innovative, efficient, and effective - helping clients preserve limited or contested assets.

Denise’s skills and insight have earned her multiple leadership roles beyond the courtroom. Within the firm, she currently serves as Co-Chair of the Wealth Planning, Administration, and Disputes Practice Group. She has previously chaired the Hiring Committee, served on the Diversity Committee, and played a key role in developing and supporting talent management initiatives. In addition, she has served the broader community as a board member of multiple non-profit organizations, including the Children’s Law Center, Twin Cities Diversity in Practice, Twin Cities Iron Ranger Association, and as the past chair of College Possible Minnesota.

A former teacher and school program leader, she contributes her time and talent to these organizations because of her belief in the enduring importance of equal education opportunities and justice for all children to our success as a society.


Fiduciary Litigation Matters

Achieved favorable resolution for beneficiaries and the proposed successor trustee in a dispute involving a series of family trusts.

Negotiated resolution to long-standing family dispute regarding actions taken by personal representative and trustee of family trust.

First-chair attorney for five-day arbitration in highly complex shareholder dispute.

Lead counsel for multi-party shareholder dispute, including successful defense of motion for temporary injunction, extensive pretrial matters, and negotiation of favorable resolution prior to trial.

A Ramsey County jury awarded $30.1 million to four Minnesota non-profits that the firm represented in an action against Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.  The four non-profits-Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Association, Minnesota Medical Foundation, The Minneapolis Foundation, and Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi Foundation for Children-participated in a securities lending program run by Wells Fargo.  The jury found that Wells Fargo breached its fiduciary duty and violated the Minnesota Consumer Fraud Act.  On April 16, 2012, the Minnesota Court of Appeals issued its opinion affirming the trial court.  On June 27, 2012, the Minnesota Supreme Court denied Wells Fargo's petition for review.  The final judgment, plus additional post-trial attorneys’ fees paid by Wells Fargo, totaled more than $57 million. Minnesota Workers’ Compensation Reinsurance Association et al. v. Wells Fargo Bank, N.A.

General Commercial Litigation Matters

Negotiated highly favorable product liability settlement for product manufacturer in class action with significant damage demands.

Part of team that secured summary judgment for product manufacturer in complex multi-defendant personal injury suit.

Co-counsel representing Minnesota Vikings’ former wide receiver Bernard Berrian against attempted extortion plot.  Obtained ex parte temporary restraining order in U.S. District Court returning client’s property and enjoining defendants.  The case subsequently settled on confidential terms.

Part of team that achieved dismissal of consumer fraud claim and individually argued successful appeal to uphold dismissal. Baker, Corey & Jamie; et al. v. Best Buy; et al.

Negotiated favorably settlement payment to client in dispute over interpretation of lease and related cost sharing.

Successfully obtained dismissal for foreign corporation on motion to dismiss on basis of personal jurisdiction.

First chair for five-day arbitration defending client in dispute over breach of agent agreement.

Intellectual Property Matters

Judge Richard A. Posner ruled in favor of our client, Promega Corporation, in a suit that it initiated against one of its competitors. In an opinion dated June 12, 2013 from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Judge Posner ruled that certain claims of U.S. Patent No. RE43,096, asserted against Promega, are invalid. Promega prevailed in its arguments that the claims of the ’096 patent were invalid due to the breadth of the claim constructions that Defendants sought and obtained. Certain asserted claims were invalid for lack of written description support. While the patent describes an improvement to DNA sequencing, the breadth of the claims encompassed technologies that Caltech did not invent, including the PCR-based methods on which Promega’s accused products are based. The asserted claims were additionally invalid as anticipated or obvious in view of the prior art, including a prior art patent to Caltech, which expired years ago. Judge Posner also found certain claims invalid for obviousness type double patenting. Defendants appealed various aspects of Judge Posner’s decision and the judgment. Six days after oral argument, the Federal Circuit summarily affirmed the judgment, awarding Promega a complete victory in the case. Promega Corporation v. Applied Biosystems, LLC, Life Technologies Corporation, and California Institute of Technology.

Super Lawyers Denise Rahne
Northstar Lawyer
  • Listed in The Best Lawyers in America (2023 edition)
  • Named a “Woman Worth Watching,” Profiles in Diversity Journal (2019)
  • Named a “North Star Lawyer” by the Minnesota State Bar Association for providing at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services (2013-2016, 2022)
  • Named a "Minnesota Rising Star," Super Lawyers (2008-2013)
  • Named a "Minnesota Super Lawyer," Super Lawyers (2020-2022)
  • Burton Brief Award
  • College Possible Minnesota (former board member and chair)
  • The Children’s Law Center (former chair)
  • Twin Cities Diversity in Practice (former board member)
  • Twin Cities Iron Ranger Association (former committee member)
Bar Admissions
  • Minnesota
  • South Dakota
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Appeals, Ninth Circuit
  • U.S. District Court, Minnesota
  • U.S. District Court, South Dakota
  • U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Wisconsin
  • U.S. District Court, Western District of Wisconsin
  • William Mitchell College of Law, J.D., magna cum laude (2003)
  • University of Minnesota College of Education and Human Development, M.Ed. in Secondary English Education (1997)
  • University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts, B.A. in English, summa cum laude (1991)
Professional Associations
  • American Bar Association
  • Fellow of the American Bar Foundation
  • Federal Bar Association
  • Minnesota State Bar Association 
  • Hennepin County Bar Association

  • Trust and Estate Litigation in 2023 – We Are Not Alone
    Minnesota CLE Seminar, Minneapolis, Minnesota (March 28, 2023)

  • Ripped from the Headlines: Current Issues in Wealth Planning, Administration, and Fiduciary Disputes
    Robins Kaplan LLP Wealth Planning, Administration, and Disputes Annual CLE, Webinar (October 13, 2022)

  • Administration of Trusts: Major Issues, Opportunities, and Pitfalls Post-Trust Formation
    Minnesota CLE Understanding Trusts Seminar, Minneapolis, Minnesota (September 21, 2022)

  • Evidentiary Issues Unique to Trusts and Estates Litigation
    Minnesota CLE 2022 Probate and Trust Law Section Conference, Webinar (June 14, 2022)

  • Effective Direct and Redirect Examination – Telling the Witness’s Story by Asking Purposeful Questions
    Minnesota CLE Litigating Probate and Trust Disputes in 2022 Seminar, Webinar (March 29, 2022)

  • Effective Cross-Examination – Strategies for Honing this Vital Skill
    Minnesota CLE Litigating Probate and Trust Disputes in 2022 Seminar, Webinar (March 29, 2022)

  • Exploring the Potential New World of Electronic Wills, Harmless Error and Remote Notarization
    Minnesota CLE 2021 Probate & Trust Law Section Conference (June 8, 2021)

  • Exploring the Potential New World of Electronic Wills, Harmless Error and Remote Notarization
    Minnesota CLE, Webinar (March 18, 2021)

  • How to Manage Probate and Estate Litigation in Minnesota and Surrounding States
    Minnesota CLE and Minnesota State Bar Association 2020 Probate & Trust Law Section Conference, Webinar (October 16, 2020)

  • Ripped from the Case Law
    Robins Kaplan LLP Wealth Planning, Administration, and Disputes Annual CLE, Webinar (October 13, 2020)

  • Representations of Wealth Planning and Conflict in Film and Literature: What Can We Learn from Such Depictions?
    Robins Kaplan LLP Wealth Planning, Administration, and Disputes Annual CLE, Webinar (October 7, 2020)

  • “In the Eye of the Beholder? Key drivers of method, perception, and conflict in business valuation,”
    Hennepin County Bar Association (April 21, 2020)

  • "Serving Estate Planning Clients in the Midst of COVID-19,"
    Minnesota State Bar Association, Probate and Trust Section, Minneapolis MN (April 10, 2020)

  • Ripped from the Case Law
    Robins Kaplan LLP Wealth Planning, Administration, and Disputes Annual CLE: The Future of the Fiduciary, Minneapolis, Minnesota (September 12, 2019)
  • What Do We Think About Our New Tools?: Non-Judicial Settlement, Modification, and Decanting Under the Minnesota Trust Code 
    Minnesota CLE 2019 Probate and Trust Law Section Conference, St. Paul, Minnesota (June 10, 2019)
  • The Why What and How of Building a Practice
    2019 MWL Conference for Women in the Law, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 26, 2019)
  • Representing Youth in Foster Care
    Panelist, Mitchell Hamline School of Law, 2019 Law Review Symposium, St. Paul, Minnesota (April 18, 2019)
  • Wearing the Fiduciary Hat A Primer on Responsibilities Risks and Some Practical Considerations
    Offered Privately at request of Trust Company/Family Office (February 1, 2019)
  • Options for Modifying and Terminating Trusts Does Irrevocable Really Mean Irrevocable
    Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, Minnesota (December 17, 2018)
  • The Limits of Fiduciary Discretion for Litigators and Planners
    44th Annual Probate and Trust Law Section Conference, Minnesota CLE, St. Paul, Minnesota (June 5, 2018)
  • Its All About the Execution Best Practices and Potential Pitfalls
    44th Annual Probate and Trust Law Section Conference, Minnesota CLE, St. Paul, Minnesota (June 5, 2018)
  • Success in Patent Disputes
    University of Minnesota School of Law Student Intellectual Property Law Association, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 11, 2018)
  • Boosting the Bottom Line: An Evidence Based Argument for Women in Leadership
    Minnesota Women Lawyers, Minneapolis, Minnesota (April 21, 2017)
  • Fighting Over the Family Jewels 7 Red Flags
    Schechter Dokken Kanter, Minneapolis, Minnesota (February 9, 2017)
  • 7 Tips for Avoiding Trust and Estate Litigation (or Achieving Early Resolution)
    Minnesota CLE Strategic Solutions for Solo & Small Firms, St. Paul, Minnesota (August 9, 2016)
  • Testator Intent and Extrinsic Evidence
    Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, Minnesota (February 12, 2016)
  • Testator Intent & Extrinsic Evidence
    The Estate Planning, Probate & Trust Law, Minnesota CLE Conference Center (September 24, 2014)
  • Mandated Reporting Meets Privilege: When Can You Talk and When Can You Testify?
    New Law Series, Minnesota CLE, Minneapolis, Minnesota (September 17, 2014)
  • 40th Annual Probate and Trust Law Section Conference: The Life and Death of an Estates and Trusts Dispute
    Minnesota CLE, St. Paul, Minnesota (June 2, 2014)
June 13, 2023
2023 Probate and Trust Law Section Conference
Denise Rahne - 2023 Probate & Trust Law Section Conference
St. Paul, MN
October 13, 2022
Motives and Opportunities
Randy Tietjen, Denise Rahne, Matt Frerichs - Annual CLE Event Presented by the Wealth Planning, Administration, and Fiduciary Disputes Group
Minneapolis, MN
September 21, 2022
Minnesota CLE Understanding Trusts Seminar
Denise Rahne - Minnesota CLE Understanding Trusts Seminar
Minneapolis, MN
June 14, 2022
2022 Probate and Trust Law Section Conference
Denise Rahne - Minnesota CLE
St. Paul, MN
March 29, 2022
WEBINAR | Litigating Probate and Trust Disputes in 2022
Denise Rahne - Minnesota CLE


Links to full publications and news releases.


December 2022
Wearing the Right Hat
Denise Rahne, Heather Chang - The Robins Kaplan Spotlight
March 2022
Early Mediation in Fiduciary Disputes
Denise Rahne, Eric Magnuson - The Robins Kaplan Spotlight
Winter 2021
Avoiding Guilt by Association
Denise Rahne - The Robins Kaplan Spotlight
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