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Ivy S. Bernhardson

Ivy S. Bernhardson

General Biography
Practice Areas
Accounting Finance
Business Commercial
Federal Law
Health Care
Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities
Background and Education

Ivy S. Bernhardson joined JAMS in 2021 after more than 29 years of experience as a corporate counsel and governance expert, as well as 13 years as a trial court judge in Hennepin County (Minneapolis) District Court, including four years as chief judge.

Judge Bernhardson has presided over criminal, civil, mental health and family law matters. Her diverse career includes significant nonprofit board leadership and governance responsibilities. She served as chair of the board of trustees of Gustavus Adolphus College and Fairview Southdale Hospital. She served 12 years as a trustee of the Bush Foundation, as a director and vice-chair of the Fairview Health System and as a director of the Greater Twin Cities United Way.

Her legal practice includes 22 years at General Mills, ending as vice president, associate general counsel and corporate secretary. In addition to running the corporate secretary’s office, she was lead counsel for the company’s complex financings, pension investments, SEC filings, and many business acquisitions and divestitures, ranging from $2 million to $2 billion, including two public company spin-offs. She also counseled the company on compliance and ethics policy matters, risk management and insurance. She was the primary internal counsel for a lengthy complex captive insurance coverage litigation that included a reinsurance arbitration in Bermuda. She also spent time as a corporate lawyer at a large Minneapolis firm that is now known as Stinson. Immediately prior to taking the bench in 2007, she served as the first general counsel for the Hazelden Foundation, now known as Hazelden Betty Ford, one of the nation’s premier addiction treatment organizations.

Judge Bernhardson has been known throughout her multi-faceted career as a thoughtful listener, a fair and calm voice of reason in negotiations and a resilient, problem-solving leader. She has a particular interest in health care and governance issues. She strongly believes in the private resolution of disputes.

Representative Matters

Judge Bernhardson has adjudicated or presided over a wide range of matters, including:

  • Determination of a family-owned company shareholder dispute, including the valuation of the minority shareholder’s interest and the terms of the buyout
  • Resolution of a dispute between church members over control of the church and its assets
  • Noncompete agreements, unfair competition and related allegations between former employee and former employer, including compensation and severance claims
  • Employment termination disputes
  • Interpretation of complex securities and financing arrangements
  • Medical malpractice (jury trial)
  • Court trial de novo on condemnation award for real property
  • Personal injury jury trials (typically car accidents)
  • FELA jury trials (railroad employees’ workers’ compensation claims)

While on the family court bench, Judge Bernhardson routinely handled the following issues:

  • Allocation of parenting time
  • Designation of parenting responsibilities
  • Relocation of children; school choice
  • Division of assets and liabilities
  • Provision and Modification of spousal maintenance
  • Orders for protection

Honors, Memberships, and Professional Activities

  • Member, Minnesota Bar Association
  • Member, Hennepin County Bar Association
  • Greater Twin Cities United Way, Minneapolis and St. Paul
    • Director, 2005–2011
    • Chair, Health and Independence Committee, 2006–2007
  • The Bush Foundation
    • Director, 1997–2009
    • Former Chair, Audit, Investment and Grants Committees
  • Trustee, Board of Pensions, Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, 2005–2007
  • American Society of Corporate Secretaries (n/k/a Society of Corporate Secretaries and Governance Professionals), 1982–2007
    • Director, 1994–1997
    • President, Twin Cities Chapter, 1992–1993
  • American Arbitration Association
    • Commercial Arbitration Panel, 1984–2007
    • Large Complex Case Panel, 2003–2007
  • Member, Panel of Distinguished Neutrals, Center for Public Resources, Institute for Dispute Resolution, 2004–2007
  • NASD Arbitrator (public member), 2003–2007
  • Fairview Health Services
    • Director, 1996–2002
    • Member, Board Executive, Finance and Human Resources Committees, 1996–2002
    • Vice-Chair, 1999–2002
    • Chair, Governance Task Force, 2001–2002
  • Trustee, Fairview Southdale Hospital, 1993–2002
    • Chair, 1999–2001
  • Gustavus Adolphus College
    • Trustee, 1989–1998
    • Chair, 1995–1998
  • Minnesota Citizens Council on Crime and Justice
    • Director, 1990–1994

Background and Education

  • Judge, Hennepin County District Court, 2007–2020
      • Chief Judge, 2016–2020
      • Assistant Chief Judge, 2012–2016
      • Civil and Criminal, 2011–2020
      • Family, 2009–2011
      • Civil, 2008–2008
      • Criminal, 2007–2008
  • Vice President, Chief Legal Officer, Hazelden Foundation, 2004–2007
  • Attorney and Shareholder; Leonard, Street & Deinard (n/k/a Stinson); 2000–Feb. 2002 and Oct. 2002–2004
  • Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Medica Health Plans, Feb.–June 2002
  • General Mills, Inc., 1977–2000
    • Associate General Counsel and Corporate Secretary, 1996–2000
    • Vice President, 1988–2000
    • Senior Associate Counsel, 1985–1996
    • Associate Counsel, 1983–1985
    • Assistant Secretary, 1982–1996
    • Staff Attorney, 1978–1983
  • J.D., cum laude, University of Minnesota, 1978
  • B.A., magna cum laude, Gustavus Adolphus College, 1973


This page is for general information purposes.  JAMS makes no representations or warranties regarding its accuracy or completeness.  Interested persons should conduct their own research regarding information on this website before deciding to use JAMS, including investigation and research of JAMS neutrals. See More

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