Barbara Jean D'Aquila

Norton Rose Fulbright US LLP

Barbara Jean D'Aquila

Barbara Jean D'Aquila

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Barbara Jean D'Aquila is a partner in the Minneapolis office, where she manages the Litigation Department there and handles significant business matters, including commercial litigation, government investigations, and labor and employment matters.

In 2012, Barbara was recognized by Benchmark Litigation in its Inaugural Edition of the Top 250 Women in Litigation in the country. In 2011, in an order involving anti-trust class action claims, a well-respected federal judge specifically named Barbara, along with other defense counsel, as a "highly experienced, skilled, and extraordinarily professional defense counsel," noting the "professionalism, candor, and zealous and knowledgeable advocacy."

In addition to these honors, Barbara has enjoyed similar recognition from other professional sources. For example, Barbara has been recognized by Chambers USA for years and has been described as an "exceptional" and "skilled trial lawyer, an excellent brief writer, and a good negotiator," noting she is one of Minnesota's "definite first-tier attorneys" who is seen by clients as "extremely responsive, technically knowledgeable and creative about practical solutions" and regarded by peers as "a bright and practical litigator, who is a much-valued member of the community." Additionally, Chambers USA has noted that Barbara's "accounting background is also highly valued."

For over 30 years, Barbara has focused on matters of serious concern to corporate America. She represents corporations throughout the U.S. in federal and state courts, before administrative agencies and in arbitration forums. Barbara's clients include major FORTUNE 500 corporations and significant privately-held companies.

In the litigation arena, Barbara has assisted clients in obtaining numerous summary judgment orders, favorable awards and verdicts, precedent-setting appellate decisions, and beneficial settlements.

Specifically, Barbara's employment litigation experience involves the successful defense of traditional employment law class, multiple-party, and significant single-plaintiff claims, including but not limited to non-competition, discrimination, harassment, reasonable accommodation, retaliation, and various tort and breach of contract claims and complex employment-related suits, such as ownership of intellectual property. Barbara has been recognized as a certified specialist in labor and employment law by the Minnesota State Bar Association.

Handling both sides of commercial disputes, Barbara has had great success in a wide variety of business lawsuits, including but not limited to alleged anti-trust conspiracies, multi-million dollar breach of contract claims, violation of trade secrets lawsuits, breach of warranty actions, construction claims, tax litigation, intellectual property matters, and other business-related claims.  

Throughout her career, Barbara has also helped clients with various government investigations and related regulatory compliance matters. Her experience includes advising publicly-traded companies in connection with matters involving various federal statutes such as the Internal Revenue Code, the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act, the False Claims Act, federal banking laws, and a variety of federal and state discrimination, labor, and anti-retaliation laws.

Professional experience

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JD, cum laude, University of Minnesota Law School (early graduation from the Class of 1980), 1979
BBA, magna cum laude, Accounting, University of Notre Dame, 1977

In law school, Barbara was honored on the Dean's List all years, was a Member of the International Law Moot Court Team and served on the Dean's Board of Student Advisors.

In college, Barbara was honored on the Dean's List all years, was a member of the Business Honor Society, Beta Gamma Sigma and was a member of the Accounting Honor Society, Beta Alpha Psi.

Before entering private practice, Barbara served as a law clerk for Justice John Todd of the Minnesota Supreme Court.

Barbara has a Certified Public Accountant Inactive License from the State of Minnesota Board of Accountancy.

Barbara is a Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law by the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA).

Barbara is admitted to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court, the U.S. Tax Court, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth and Eleventh Circuits, the U.S. District Court for the State of Minnesota and the state courts of the State of Minnesota. She has also been admitted to practice pro hac vice before a number of federal and state courts across the U.S. In addition, she is listed as a Rule 114 Qualified Neutral (Qualified Civil Mediator and Qualified Civil Arbitrator) by the Minnesota Supreme Court.

  • Minnesota State Bar

Representative experience includes but is not limited to:

  • Lead plaintiff's counsel in multi-million breach of insurance contract case, wherein corporate representative for insurer admitted liability on the record in the "corporation's" deposition, resulting in the multi-million dollar variable life insurance policy being voluntarily reinstated by the insurer
  • Lead or key counsel in the successful defense of various wage and hour disputes including misclassification, overtime, tip, and other issues
  • Lead counsel in the successful defense of various discrimination cases, including class, representative, and/or significant single plaintiff actions
  • Lead defense counsel in an age representative action, including successfully obtaining decertification of the class
  • Lead defense counsel in a successful two-week federal age discrimination trial
  • Lead defense counsel in a successful five and one-half week trial (with multiple appeals) involving state disability discrimination, reasonable accommodation, and retaliation claims, which included the first "employee" disability discrimination claim decided by the Minnesota Supreme Court
  • Lead defense counsel in successful federal preemption cases involving Railway Safety Act, federal alcohol and drug testing, and the WARN Act
  • Lead defense counsel in the successful defense of a defamation case in which the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals refined the applicable law on defamation by self-publication
  • Lead defense counsel in the successful defense of a case brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission
  • Lead or key counsel in a variety of government-related investigations and other regulatory work, including various federal statutes
  • Member of litigation team in anti-trust matter involving 3 alleged conspiracies
  • Lead counsel for both sides in successful breach of commercial contract cases
  • Key defense counsel in the successful defense of a two-week breach of warranty trial in federal court
  • Lead defense counsel in a tax case establishing the then-innocent spouse rule in the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals
  • Lead defense counsel in a declaratory judgment action involving the successful defense of a city official whose conduct was challenged as improper
  • Active second chair in two lengthy, white-collar criminal trials, including the successful defense of a bank officer in an alleged check-kiting scheme
  • Lead counsel who successfully overturned a state agency's rate assessment of more than one million dollars to a corporation
  • Lead defense counsel in successful opposition of a temporary restraining order in a multi-million dollar unfair competition case
  • Lead counsel successful in obtaining relief from an automatic bankruptcy stay in a Chapter 11 case

 Barbara has received numerous professional honors throughout her career, including but not limited to:

  • Top 250 Women in Litigation, Minnesota, Benchmark Litigation, 2012 - 2014
  • The Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers, 1995 - 2019
  • Who's Who Legal, labour and employment, Law Business Research Ltd., 2014
  • Chambers USA, Minnesota: Labor & Employment, Chambers & Partners, 2004 - 2019
  • The International Who's Who of Management Labor and Employment, Who's Who Legal, 2013
  • Benchmark Litigation Star, Legal Media Group, every year since 2010
  • World's Leading Woman in Business Law, Labour and Employment, Expert Guides, 2012 - 2014
  • World's Leading Labour and Employment Lawyer, Expert Guides, 2011, 2013 - 2014
  • Local Litigation Star, Minnesota: Labor and Employment, General Commercial, Benchmark Litigation, Euromoney Institutional Investor PLC, 2013 - 2017
  • Minnesota's Best Lawyers, Minnesota Monthly , January 2013
  • 100 Most Powerful Employment Lawyers, The Guide to World Class Employment Lawyers, 2013 - 2016
  • Minnesota Top Rated Lawyer - general practice, labor and employment, civil rights, LexisNexis Martindale-Hubbell, 2013 - 2014
  • Top 25 Women Industry Leaders, Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal, 2009
  • Fellow of The College of Labor and Employment Lawyers, every year since 2001
  • 2018 Hall of Fame Class, The Nation's Most Powerful Employment Attorneys, Human Resource Executive and Lawdragon, 2018
  • Nation's Top 100 Most Powerful Employment Attorneys, Human Resource Executive and Lawdragon, 2009 - 2016
  • Top 25 Labor and Employment Lawyers, The Best of The Best USA, only year list was published, 2007
  • Law & Leading Attorneys, Guide to the World's Leading Labour and Employment Lawyers, every year since 2006
  • The International Who's Who of Business Lawyers, every year since 2006
  • Lifetime Fellow, The American Bar Association Fellows
  • AV Rating, Martindale-Hubbell, every year since first rating
  • Life Member, National Registry of Who's Who, admitted 2001
  • Minnesota Top 100 Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, every year since inception of Top 100 list
  • Top 50 Women Minnesota Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, 2010 - 2013
  • Top 100 Women Minnesota Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, 2005 - 2009
  • Minnesota Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, every year since inception
  • Minnesota Top 40 Employment Super Lawyer, Thomson Reuters, every year since inception of Top 40 list
  • Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law, Minnesota State Bar Association

Barbara is a frequent author of various legal articles, including the following representative examples:

  • Co-author, "Statistical Proof in FLSA Classes: Supreme Court Allows Representative Evidence, Employee Benefit Plan Review, July 2016
  • Co-author, "Fundamentals and Best Practices in Protecting Intellectual Property in the Employment Context," State Bar of Texas Summer 2012 Corporate Counsel Newsletter, July 2012
  • "Midwestern Companies Comfortable Saying 'See You in Court'," Minnesota Lawyer, December 2011
  • "A Management Employment Lawyer's Perspective on Ricci v. DeStefano," 25 A.B.A. J. Lab. & Emp. L. 213, 2010
  • Co-author, "Whose Workers Are They Anyway?," Minnesota Lawyer, May 10, 2010
  • "From 'Minnesota Nice' to 'Midwest Mean?'," Minnesota Lawyer In House Counsel, December 2009
  • "Executing a Litigation Hold in an Employment Matter," Legal Quick Sheet, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, 2008
  • Co-author, "Summary Guide to Rules Regarding Discovery: Federal Court and Minnesota State Court," Minnesota Continuing Legal Education, 2007
  • "Drug and Alcohol Testing in the Workplace: The Legislative Report," 14 William Mitchell Law Review 225, 1998

A well-respected resource on civil litigation, regulatory law, and business and accounting matters, Barbara is a recurrent and prolific public speaker. Not only does she speak publicly at numerous federal and state continuing legal education conferences and trade group seminars throughout the year, she has served as a chair, co-chair and planning committee member of various conferences.

Representative examples include:

  • "Internal or Government Investigations – Where the Stakes are High," Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, 2012
  • "Discussion with Government Lawyers on Litigation of Systemic and Pattern or Practice Cases," National Conference on Equal Employment Opportunity Law, 2012
  • "IP Provisions in Employment Contracts: Protecting the Company's Best Assets on the Front End," Minnesota CLE, 2012
  • "Not So Usual Suspects – You and Your Clients," American Bar Association, Section of Labor and Employment Law Annual Conference, 2011
  • "Ongoing Challenges with Internal Investigations, including Ethical Considerations," American Employment Law Council, 2011
  • "Handling Evidence Before and During Trial: The Current State of Class Action Law," Minnesota CLE, 2011
  • "Class Action Litigation After Dukes v. Wal-Mart," American Bar Association Annual Convention, 2011
  • "Responding to EEOC Investigations and Subpoenas," Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, 2011
  • "The Most Pressing Issues Facing Companies in an Emboldened Obama Administration, Troubling Court Decisions, and the Ever-Challenging Legal Issues Around the Globe," American Employment Law Council, 2010
  • "New Wall Street Reform Act," Minnesota CLE, 2010
  • "Ricci, Lewis, City of Chicago, Ledbetter, Testing, and Affirmative Action: How are They Related?," American Bar Association Annual Convention, 2010
  • "Evidence in the Courtroom: What You Need to Know about Scientific Experts," Minnesota CLE, 2010
  • "The ADA Amendments Act: Changing the Landscape of Enforcement and Litigation?," University of Memphis Law School Review Symposium, 2010
  • "The Divorce Wars – When the Departing Employee Leaves with Trade Secrets, Employees, and Other Valuable Consideration," Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, 2009
  • "Effective Use of Jury Consultants," American Bar Association, Annual Convention, 2008
  • "You've Got to be Kidding! That's My Key Witness?," American Bar Association National Conference on EEO Law, 2009

Barbara is extremely active in various professional associations and has served in officer positions at the national and state levels. Her activities include:

  • Minnesota State Bar Association Certified Specialist in Labor and Employment Law (since inception in 2011)
  • Fellow, College of Labor and Employment Lawyers (since 2001)
  • Minnesota Supreme Court
    • Member of the Board of Law Examiners (2009 – present)
    • Member, Bar Admissions Advisory Council to the Board of Law Examiners (1998 – 2009)
    • Member, Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure (1998 - 2000)
    • Lawyers' Trust Account Board: Board Member, (1993 - 2000), Board Chair (1995 - 2000)
  • United States District Court, District of Minnesota
    • Federal Practice Committee (1985 - 1990)
  • University of Minnesota Law School
    • National Chair of the Partners in Excellence Campaign (2002, 2003)
    • Alumni Board of Directors (1991 - 1998)
  • American Bar Association
    • Section of Labor and Employment Law (1992 - present)
      • Member of the Section Council (2008 - present)
      • Council Liaison to the CLE/Institutes and Meetings Committee, the Sponsorship, Donors & Grants Committee, and the Technology in the Practice and Workplace Committee (2012 - present)
      • Emeritus Management Chair of the Section's Fifth Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference (2011)
      • Employer Co-Chair of the Section's Fourth Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference (2010)
      • Employer Vice Chair of the Section's Third Annual Labor and Employment Law Conference (2009)
      • Member of the Planning Committee for the Section's Second and First Annual Labor and Employment Law Conferences (2008, 2007)
      • Employer Co-Chair of the Equal Employment Opportunity Committee (2004 - 2006)
  • American Employment Law Council (1995 - present)
    • Conference Planning Chair (2012, 2013)
  • Federal Bar Association - Minnesota Chapter (1994 - present)
    • President (1998, 1999)
    • Board Member and Board Emeritus (1994 - present)
  • Minnesota State Bar Association (1981 - present)
    • Co-Chair, Legal Education and Bar Admissions Committee (1999 - 2003)
    • Chair, Multijurisdictional Task Force (2004 - 2006)
    • Labor and Employment Law Section (1981 - present)
  • Governing Council Member (1989 - 1993)
  • American Institute of Certified Public Accounts (1989 - present)
  • Minnesota Society of Certified Public Accounts (1982 - present)

Barbara is and always has been active in her community. Her civic involvement includes:

  • Girl Scouts of Minnesota and Wisconsin River Valleys, Board of Directors, Executive Committee, and Chair of Fund Development (2008 - present); Girl Scout Council of St. Croix Valley, Board of Directors (2005 - 2008)
  • Regions Hospital Wine Auction, Member, Wine Auction Steering Committee (2009 - present); Member, Silent Auction Subcommittee (2006  - 2008)
  • American Heart Association, Minnesota Affiliate: Various offices from 1983 to 1991 and in 1996, including but not limited to Board Chair (1987, 1988), Distinguished Service Award (1988), Great Plains Regional Representative to the American Heart Association National Center (1989 - 1991), and Co-Chair of the Affiliate's 50th Anniversary Committee (1996)
  • Domestic Abuse Project, Board of Directors (1993 - 1999)
  • Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis, Due Process Arbitrator (1990)