Trusted advisor. Aggressive advocate.

As one of the Twin Cities’ most experienced civil litigators, Dawn Van Tassel has successfully represented hundreds of businesses and individuals in protecting their rights and assets. Whether through business-side employment law, contract disputes, appeals, mediation services, arbitration or litigation, Dawn is passionate about guiding small- to mid-sized businesses to successful legal outcomes.

Dawn founded Van Tassel Law Firm in 2014 because she saw a need for pragmatic, efficient legal counsel focused on the issues facing small and medium businesses. Intentionally industry-agnostic, Dawn hangs her hat on her mastery of the legal processes Minnesota businesses must navigate. Having successfully tried cases throughout the Twin Cities metro area over two decades, Dawn is intimately familiar with the state and federal courts of Minnesota and elsewhere. Dawn is a qualified neutral under Rule 114 of the Minnesota Supreme Court’s General Rules of Practice, and she is admitted to practice before numerous appellate courts, including the Supreme Court.

Previously, Dawn was partner at one of the top 10 law firms in the Twin Cities. During her 13-year tenure as a business litigation attorney there, she tried numerous cases in state and federal courts with successful outcomes, and successfully argued appeals to state and federal appellate courts. Dawn started her career nearly 20 years ago as a business attorney with one of the 10-largest law firms in the Twin Cities at the time.

Dawn has also been an adjunct professor at the William Mitchell College of Law in St. Paul. She frequently writes and speaks about evidentiary topics, about which she is an expert. Dawn volunteers with the Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center in St. Paul.

Dawn received her Juris Doctor from the University of California Berkeley School of Law (Boalt Hall) in 1999. She earned her Bachelor of Arts, summa cum laude, from Augsburg College in Minneapolis.

Dawn lives in St. Louis Park with her daughter, Julia, and two cats, Clark Kent and Purrcy Jackson. The cats and daughter have far more active social media accounts than Dawn herself. Weekends can find Dawn partaking of the rich Minneapolis arts scene and enjoying the urban nature around Minneapolis’ many lakes.


  • Successfully represented partner in family partnership dispute from inception through post-trial supplementary proceedings to collect 8-figure judgment.
  • Represented unlawfully ousted shareholder in actions against former business partner.
  • Served as expert witness in legal malpractice action involving prosecution of a minority shareholder claim in Minnesota state court.
  • Represented Minnesota-based manufacturer and franchisor in numerous non-compete disputes involving sales force; advised on revising various jurisdiction-specific non-compete form agreements.
  • Obtained summary judgment award in two parallel, single-plaintiff FLSA actions against home health care provider.
  • Obtained temporary restraining order for privately held Minnesota company to prevent defecting salesman from violating non-competition and non-disclosure restrictions in employment agreement.
  • Successfully represented a national court-reporting firm from 2010 to 2011 in a non-compete lawsuit filed against a former employee who resigned and began a competing court reporting business. The matter was resolved pursuant to a confidential settlement agreement and a stipulated injunction by the defendants.
  • Anderson v. Crossroads Capital Partners, LLC, 2004 WL 256512 (D. Minn. Feb. 10, 2004); 2004 WL 483196 (D. Minn. Mar. 10, 2004). Obtained dismissal of whistleblower, sexual harassment, and gender discrimination claims against employer.
  • Represented 30-plus alleged “insider” defendants in bankruptcy adversary proceedings arising out of Chapter 11 filing of major nationwide boat manufacturing company.
  • Defended several bedding manufacturers against claims of trademark infringement, dilution, false advertising and unfair competition.
  • Watkins, Inc. v. Chilkoot Distributing, Inc., 719 F.3d 987 (8th 2013). Successfully represented natural products distributor in claims stemming from change in relationship with Canadian sales associates. Client prevailed on all claims on summary judgment, which ruling was affirmed on appeal.
  • Automated Telemarketing Servs., Inc. v. Aspect Software, Inc. (D. Minn. 2011). Obtained 7-figure verdict for terminated sales representative on theories of breach of contract and tortious interference with prospective business relations.
  • Sustad v. Unisys Corp. (D. Minn. 2009). Successfully defended global computing solutions company against disability discrimination claim.
  • Vincent v. Roundy’s, Inc., 2007 WL 2226029 (D. Minn. July 31, 2007). Obtained summary judgment in favor of retail grocery chain against employee’s claims of gender and disability discrimination and reprisal. Obtained summary judgment for employer.
  • Ad Associates, Inc. v. Coast to Coast Classifieds, Inc., 2005 WL 3372968 (D. Minn. Dec. 12, 2005). Defended small-business owner against claims of copyright infringement, misappropriation of trade secrets and unfair competition. First-chaired bench trial, at which client prevailed on all claims.
  • Unity Church of St. Paul, et al. v. State of Minnesota, 694 N.W.2d 585 (Minn. Ct. App. 2005). Drafted successful amicus curiae brief on behalf of American Civil Liberties Union of Minnesota in challenge to firearm conceal/carry statute on the basis of state constitution’s “single subject” clause.
  • i-Systems, Inc. v. Softwares, Inc., 2004 WL 742082 (D. Minn. Mar. 29, 2004). Assisted in obtaining $830,000 jury verdict at trial on claims of copyright, trade secret misappropriation, deceptive trade practices, and contract claims brought by software developer.
  • In re Estate of Kinney, 733 N.W.2d 118, 2007 WL 1704137 (Minn. June 14, 2007). Assisted in obtaining reversal of summary judgment entered against client, presenting issue of first impression to Minnesota Supreme Court, which clarified requirements for antenuptial agreements under Minnesota common law.
  • Solvay Pharmaceuticals, Inc. v. ETHEX Corporation and KV Pharmaceutical Co. (D. Minn. 2007). Served as local counsel for generic pharmaceutical manufacturer and distributor on claims of false advertising under Lanham Act and Minnesota False Advertising Act. Assisted in achieving total defense verdict after six-week jury trial in federal district court.
  • Defended adult-education provider against claims brought by former international distributor for alleged wrongful termination. Client obtained favorable ruling after a week-long arbitration proceeding.
  • Defended mortgage brokerage firm against claims of sexual harassment and gender discrimination in privately arbitrated proceeding.
  • “Lawyers Hate Trees” (co-presenter), Disability Management Employer Group, May2017
  • “Partnership Disputes from Start to Finish,” NBI Seminars, February 2016
  • “Revised Uniform Limited Liability Company Act,” NBI Seminars, December 2015
  • “Get it in Writing,” presented to Twin Cities Professional Photographers Ass’n, July 2015
  • The Appellate Quarterly, ABA TIPS Appellate Advocacy publication, Eighth Circuit reporter (2009–2014)
  • “Supreme Court Decides Stern v. Marshall,” Proof, Fall 2011
  • “Combating the Lake Wobegon Effect,” (co-author) ON Litigation, Volume 3, 2011
  • “Going Negative: How an Overlooked Hearsay Exception Can Prove a Positive,” Proof, Winter 2010
  • “Document Preservation Requirements, Spoliation and ‘Litigation Holds,’” Winning the Litigation Doubleheader, Minnesota CLE, 2011
  • “Spoliation and Preservation of Evidence,” Minnesota CLE, 2006, 2007, 2010
  • Chapter 2, “Judicial Notice and Presumptions,” Minnesota Courtroom Evidence Deskbook, Minnesota CLE, November 2008 (and annual updates)
  • “Judicial Notice and Presumptions,” Minnesota Courtroom Evidence Seminar, Minnesota CLE, 2008-present
  • “The Best Seminar You Will Ever Attend: What You Need to Know About False Advertising Law,” 2007
  • “Fire at Will: Courts Affirm Employers’ Right to Require Non-Compete Agreements,” (co-author), FindLaw Corporate Counsel Center, February 2005
  • “Delete At Your Peril: Preserving Electronic Evidence During the Litigation Process,” (co-author), FindLaw Corporate Counsel Center, March 2004
  • Included on list of Minnesota Super Lawyers®, 2014 (first year of eligibility), 2015, 2016, 2017
  • Top Women Minnesota Attorneys by SuperLawyers®, 2012, 2016
  • Minnesota Law and Politics’ Rising Star, 2013, 2012, 2009, 2008
  • Maslon Mentor of the Year, 2011 and 2013
  • Maslon Case of the Year, 2009 and 2011
  • Maslon Trainer of the Year, 2004
  • Admitted to Minnesota’s state and federal courts since 1999
  • Admitted to United States Courts of Appeals for Eighth and Eleventh Circuits and U.S. Supreme Court
  • Fellow of the American Bar Endowment since 2015
  • Minnesota Women Lawyers, former Member and Co-Chair of Judicial Appointments Committee
  • Member, ABA Litigation Section Trial Evidence Committee
  • Member and Vice Chair, ABA TIPS Section Appellate Advocacy Committee
  • Member, ABA, MSBA, HCBA


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