Mary OBrien

Mary M. O'Brien

Special Counsel

Mary O'Brien provides clients with strategic counsel and advice as they navigate through an ever-changing, always complex business environment. Her practical approach to business issues is an outgrowth of her upbringing in a family of business owners. Mary learned early that employees are a company's greatest asset and that perspective shapes the advice she gives her clients each day.

Whether she is handling a contract issue, a discrimination complaint, a trade secret concern or a shareholder/employee dispute, Mary helps clients develop a strategy for an efficient, effective solution. Proactive employment practices help businesses avoid costly and time-consuming legal issues. Writing straightforward policies, clear contracts, and providing training to employees and management are a few of the steps Mary takes to help clients minimize risk. With the increased emphasis on diversity and sustainability, Mary works with clients to develop Environmental, Social and Governance (“ESG”) programs and she also provides training on diversity, inclusion, and implicit bias.


Representative Matters

Mary and her clients have successfully managed challenging and potentially volatile workplace situations. When necessary, Mary works with clients to aggressively deal with situations that required court intervention. Mary works with clients throughout the upper Midwest and has represented them in litigation in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Illinois, Michigan, Ohio, Missouri, Arkansas, California, Kentucky, and Pennsylvania.

In situations where employees brought lawsuits that could not be reasonably resolved, she and her clients have secured court dismissals and favorable jury verdicts:

  • Court dismissal of discrimination and retaliation claims brought by a student intern against a hospital and health care organization
  • Court dismissal of claims of discrimination based on gender and sexual orientation, disability, and retaliation asserted against a construction company

Professional Highlights

Recognition & Accomplishments

Minnesota Monthly, "Best Lawyers," 2022

The Minnesota 500: The Most Powerful Business Leaders in Minnesota, 2020

The Best Lawyers in America, Employment Law - Management, Labor and Employment Litigation (Minneapolis), 2018-2024; Employment Law - Individuals (Minneapolis), 2021

Speaking Engagements

“ESG: What is it and Why HR is a Key Player,” Ballard Spahr Annual MN Employment Law Seminar, June 11, 2021

“Diversity, Inclusion, and Implicit Bias: Know Thyself!,” Southwest Metro HR Association, April 8, 2021

“COVID-19 One Year Later: Vaccine and Remote Work Policies,”, Hiawatha Valley Society for Human Resource Managers, February 18, 2021



University of Notre Dame (J.D.)

Concannon Programme of International Law, London, England

College of St. Benedict (B.A., magna cum laude)



U.S. District Court for the District of Minnesota