John C. Conard

Top rated Criminal Defense attorney in Minneapolis, Minnesota

Conard Nelson Schaffer, PLLC
John C. Conard
Conard Nelson Schaffer, PLLC

Practice Areas: Criminal Defense, White Collar Crimes; view more

Licensed in Minnesota since: 2006

Education: William Mitchell College of Law

Selected to Super Lawyers: 2014 - 2023

Conard Nelson Schaffer, PLLC

121 S 8th St
Suite 1425
Minneapolis, MN 55402 Visit website


Attorney John C. Conard is the founding partner of Conard Nelson Schaffer, PLLC, in Minneapolis, Minnesota. Mr. Conard practices criminal defense law, with a focus on white collar criminal defense, serving clients in Minnesota and on a nationwide basis. He handles all types of criminal matters including misdemeanors, felonies, federal crimes and violent crimes. He is most well-known for taking on complex cases involving expert witness testimony, forensic science, or complicated federal charges.  He has obtained not guilty verdicts in the toughest Federal cases including Tax Fraud, Money Laundering, Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud, and Conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and mail fraud.  He has obtained not guilty verdicts in multiple murder cases and has never lost a criminal sexual conduct trial.

Mr. Conard has substantial trial experience and is a graduate of the prestigious and selective Trial Lawyers College. He was invited to the national faculty of the college by founder Gerry Spence, and has been national faculty since 2015.  He received training in DNA defense from the National Institute for Science and Technology and became a certified criminal law specialist through the Minnesota State Bar Association.  He is a national speaker and trainer on the use of forensic science in trial and has been published on the subject by Thompson Reuters.

His criminal defense work has earned Mr. Conard numerous other honors and awards. Mpls.St.Paul Magazine included him on its “top attorney” list multiple years in a row and the National Trial Lawyers named him a “top 100 trial lawyer” since 2014. He has been selected as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by U.S.News and World Report, and his firm was selected as one of the "Best Law firms in America" by U.S.News and World Report. 

Active in the Minnesota legal community, Mr. Conard belongs to the Ramsey County Bar Association, the Washington County Bar Association, the Anoka County Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association and the Tenth Judicial District Bar. He sits on the board of the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers and serves as an instructor at various seminars and conferences.

Mr. Conard received a bachelor’s degree from Central College in Pella, Iowa, and earned his law degree from Mitchell Hamline School of Law. He was the recipient of numerous scholarships and academic awards and graduated third in his law school class. He holds a license to practice law before all Minnesota state courts, as well as the 8th, 6th, and 2nd Circuits Federal Courts of Appeal, and the NDNY, EDNY, and SDNY, the District of North Dakota, and the Eastern District of Michigan (Detroit). He regularly represents high value individuals from other countries in Federal Court across the country.

Practice areas

Criminal Defense, Criminal Defense: White Collar

Focus areas

Assault & Battery, Criminal Fraud, Criminal Law, Criminal Law - Federal, Expungement, False Accusations, Felony, Murder, Sex Offenses, Tax Evasion, White Collar Crime

  • 50% Criminal Defense
  • 50% Criminal Defense: White Collar

First Admitted: 2006, Minnesota

Professional Webpage:

Educational Background:
  • Central College, B.A., in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics, 1995
Bar/Professional Activity:
  • Member, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 2012 – Present
  • Minnesota Association for Justice Board of Governors.  Selected to the Board of Governors,, 2020
  • Member, Chicago County Bar Association, 2006 – Present
  • Member, Ramsey County Bar Association, 2006 – Present
  • Trial Lawyers College, National Faculty
  • Member, Anoka County Bar Association, 2006 – Present
  • Member, Minnesota State Bar Association, 10th District Bar Association, 2006 – Present
  • Board of Directors, Steinair Inc. 2004 – 2011
  • Board Member, Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, 2012 – Present
  • Member, Minnesota State Bar Association, 2006 – Present
  • Member, Washington County Bar Association, 2006 – Present
  • Tort Preservation Member- Minnesota Association for Justice., 2017
Special Licenses/Certifications:
  • Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, Trial Practice, Graduate II, 2011
  • Certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association as a Criminal Law Specialist
  • AAFS- Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 2013
  • AAFS- Annual Meeting of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 2014
  • Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, Jury Trial Practice, F- Warrior, 2010
  • Grad II, Trial Lawyers College. Each year I dedicate one week to both presenting and learning the newest and most advanced trial skills as a returning graduate of the selective Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College., 2012
  • DNA Defense--National Institute for Science and Technology, 2011
Representative Clients:
  • Verdict in the Ruzicka matter, NOT GUILTY on the top count, conspiracy to commit wire fraud, and more than a dozen of the discreet counts including Not Guilty on Money Laundering, Not Guilty on Wire Fraud, Not Guilty on Mail Fraud.  After a six week trial with more than 3,000 exhibits and more than 30 witnesses, this is a tremendous result. I will create a publishable version that respects the client's wishes., 2018
  • Continuing to Trial, with a team of three lawyers, in the Starkey/Ruzicka matter. This has become a full time endeavor for all involved as we proceed to trial in January 2018. It is the largest white collar case in Minnesota since the Tom Petters matter. I represent the lead defendant., 2017
  • State v. Lane - This was a successful man in his late 40's who was wrongfully accused of nolesting a special needs girl. After a vigorous trial he was found not guilty., 2014
  • United States v. Colleen Shannon, 2013
  • United States v. Domnitser et al.- A 57 million dollar fraud case in Manhatten NY, where my client was convicted after a 6 week trial but the evidence at trial severed her from the $57 million, saving her ten years., 2013
  • State v. Trevino-A high profile Murder case in which the client was found not guilty of count one, intentional murder. He was found guilty of unintentional murder, saving him 20 years., 2013
  • NOT GUILTY- Conspiracy to Commit Wire Fraud, Wire Fraud, Mail Fraud, Tax Charges, and Money Laundering.  This was a 6 week trial involving more than 30 witnesses, thousands of exhibits, and which was the largest white collar case in 20 years in Minnesota., 2018
  • Not Guilty- Ramsey County Felony Fleeing in a motor vehicle. After a four day trial, the jury acquitted the client despite the testimony of a Police Commander who was the pursuing officer.
  • Not Guilty - Assault in the 1st Degree- Anoka County. In this case, the client almost killed a man with one punch. It was widely covered by the media and tried over a full week. The jury found the client not guilty.
  • Not Guilty-Anoka County Criminal Sexual Conduct. After more than a year of litigation, and almost a full week of trial, the client was found not guilty of all charges.
  • Not Guilty-Ramsey County-Criminal Sexual Conduct. My client was a person of color, wrongfully accused of raping a white woman.  The case included the usual "cooperating" government witnesses and a full complement of forensic evidence.  After a week of trial, the client was found, not guilty.
  • Not Guilty-2nd Degree Intentional Murder - Ramsey County. Client was accused of brutally killing his wife in a high profile media case. The client was found guilty of unintentional murder, saving him 20 plus years.
  • Pre-Charge Federal White Collar matter. The client was a Doctor ensnared in his family's practice of smuggling other family members into the United States illegally. The case was prosecuted by the human trafficking section of main justice in Washington, D.C. After extensive negotiation and closed proceedings, we obtained a promise of no-prosecution. He was able to remain free, with a spotless record, and continue to practice medicine.
  • Felony Charges Dismissed- Sherburne County- Possession of Short Barrelled Shotgun. This client got into a shouting match, but when the police were called they located his sawed-off shotgun. After nearly a year of litigation including an expert witness with regard to the origin of the weapon, all charges but the misdemeanor were dismissed and the client received probation. Ordinarily, the charge would have required a mandatory 3 years in prison.
  • Case Dismissed - Ramsey County- First-degree Methamphetamine. The client was arrested with more than one and a half pounds of methamphetamine. However, we discovered that the reports and basis for the stop were false. In the end, the court threw the evidence out and dismissed the case. That client was facing a career offender status, and possibly 40 years, with a guideline sentence 13 years.
  • Case Dismissed - Anoka County- Fraud. This client was accused of fraud in a nearly half-million-dollar development scheme. After almost two years the matter was dismissed.
  • Case Dismissed- Dakota County- First Degree Cocaine. In this case, the police seized a large quantity of cocaine from and interstate shipment to my client, pursuant to a search warrant.  She was facing 12 years in prison. We fought the warrant, and the case was dismissed.
  • Case Dismissed - Ramsey County- Fraud. This client was accused of defrauding a mortgage banker and real estate company. After 8 months of litigation the matter was dismissed completely.
  • Case Dismissed- Anoka County- Drugs. Client was found to have possessed more than a few pounds of marijuana, and a search of his home revealed a nascent grow operation according to the police. After litigating a number of search and seizure issues, the case was dismissed.
  • Selected as one of the Best Lawyers in America by U.S> News and World Report, Best Lawyers in America, Best Lawyers in America, 2020
  • Selected to WHo's WHo in 2019., Marquis Who's Who, Marquis Who's Who, 2019
  • Rated as a Superlawyer for 2020., Superlawyers, Superlawyers, 2020
  • Rated as Superlawyer for 2019, Super Lawyers, Super Lawyers, 2019
  • Rated as a top attorney in Minnesota, Top Attorney, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, 2019
  • Rated Superlawyer, Super Lawyers, Super Lawyers, 2018
  • Top Attorneys in Minnesota, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, 2018
  • Top Attorneys in Minnesota, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, 2017
  • Top attorney rating in white collar and criminal defense., Top Attorney, Avvo, 2018
  • Top Attorneys in Minnesota, Minneapolis St. Paul Magazine, 2016
  • Top Attorney rating in white collar and criminal defense., Top Attorney, Avvo, 2016
  • Certificate of Appreciation for Exemplary Work Ramsey County Attorney's Office, 2010
  • Excellence for the future Award- Contracts, CALI, 2004
  • Summa Cum Laude, William Mitchell College of Law, 2006
  • G.D. Boat Scholarship for excellence in Political Science Central College, 1993
  • Ranked Third in his Class, William Mitchell College of Law
  • Top 100 Trial Lawyer, The National Trial Lawyers, 2014
  • Public Service Award, Minnesota Justice Foundation, 2006
  • Founder's Scholarship, William Mitchell College of Law, 2003
  • Wormhoudt Pre-Law Scholarship, Central College, 1991
  • National Intercollegiate Mock Trial Tournament, American Mock Trial Association
  • Client Distinction Award Martindale-Hubbell, 2013
  • Excellence for the Future Award - Securities Regulation CALI, 2005
  • Vander Lugt Award for excellence in philosophy Central College, 1993
  • Martindale-Hubbell® Client Distinction Award Recipient
  • Prestigious Trial Lawyers College and accepted back every year since his admission for hundreds of hours of graduate work
Scholarly Lectures/Writings:
  • Advanced Voire Dire instruction for the Minnesota Association for Justice., Faculty, Advanced Voire Dire, Minnesota Association for Justice, Trial Lawyers, 2019
  • A local TED type group in Manhattan, I am an invited speaker in their ongoing "Salon Series" which serves investment professionals and their lawyers., Faculty, What Isn't White Collar Crime these Days? Salon Series- National Thinkers Symposium, Finance And Law, 2019
  • Teach Advanced Voire Dire in a three day seminar, Faculty, Voire dire Regional Seminar, New York 2019, Trial Lawyers College, 2019
  • Teaching graduates of the Trial Lawyers College advanced presentation and message techniques., Faculty, Graduate One Trial Lawyers College, Trial Lawyers College, 2019
  • Faculty at a three day seminar on advanced voire dire., Faculty, Voire dire Regional Seminar, New Orleans 2019, Trial Lawyers College, 2019
  • Instructor--Seminar covering advanced messaging and framing. Worked with experts to deliver practical useful approaches to trial messaging for an audience of the best trial lawyers in Minnesota., Instructor, Advanced Trial Story, Minnesota Association For Justice, 2018
  • Instructor-- Week long workshop with the most accomplished criminal trial lawyers from around the country.  Every aspect of trial practice was developed including voire dire, cross examination, discovery strategy, storytelling, direct examination, complex case presentation, closing argument, and open statements., Faculty, In Defense of the Damned, Trial Lawyers College, 2018
  • Guest Lecturer--Advanced methods to deal with difficult issues in difficult cases.  How to create an environment where covert biases can be discovered, and discussed., Instructor, Advanced Voire Dire, Iowa Association For Justice, 2018
  • Instructor--Three day seminar instructing accomplished lawyers on the newest techniques to discover the winning trial story, including how to find and describe the emotional truth of a story., Faculty, Discovering the Story, Trial Lawyers College- Texas, 2018
  • Instructor and Judge-- At the culmination of the selective Trial Lawyers College is a week that includes mock trials and integration of all the skills taught in the first two weeks.  Judged trials and offered instruction on integrating skills and strategies to achieve connection and persuasion., Faculty, Trial Lawyers College- July 2018, Trial Lawyers College, 2018
  • Instructor-- Graduate program for accomplished trial lawyers that have graduated from the selective Trial Lawyers College.  This is a week long program addressing core presentation skills and techniques.  Using the most advanced techniques from the courtroom and the performing arts, we focus on connection and persuasion in communication., Faculty, Grad One, Trial Lawyers College, 2018
  • Group Leader- This is a week long seminar for graduates of the selective Trial Lawyers College.  We worked on advanced cross examination techniques focused on expert witnesses., Group Leader, Graduate 2, Trial Lawyers College, 2018
  • Faculty, Trial Lawyers College- Direct Examination, Trial Lawyer's College, 2017
  • Guest Speaker, Motions and More, Nebraska Criminal Defense Lawyer's Association, 2017
  • Faculty, In Defense of the Damned, Trial Lawyers College, 2017
  • Instructor, Advanced Trial Series- Voire Dire, Minnesota Association Of Justice, 2017
  • Instructor, Advanced Trial Skills Series- Discovering the Story, MAJ Minnesota Association of Justice, 2017
  • Faculty, Trial Lawyers College, Trial Lawyer's College, 2017
  • Faculty- Atlanta regional seminar, Trial lawyers College - Closing Arguments, Trial Lawyers College, 2016
  • Faculty and group leader, Defending the Damned- On campus in Dubois Wyoming, Trial Lawyers College, 2016
  • Instructor at the three week college, the most prestigious and selective trial program in the country., Faculty and group leader, The Trial Lawyers College, The Trial Lawyers College, 2016
  • Lecturer, Advanced Cross Examination of Forensic Experts, MSBA, 2015
  • Lead a group exploration of voire dire in complex sex crimes cases., Group Leader, Grad Two, Trial Lawyers College Grad II, 2015
  • Speaker, Rules of the Road Cross Examination of Expert Witnesses, Minnesota Association of Justice, A New Era Of Trial, 2014
  • Presented and lead a group session on the effective cross examination of expert witnesses., Presenter, Cross Examining Forensic Experts, Trial Lawyers College, Trial Lawyers College, 2014
  • Author, Imperfect Heroes, The Warrior- The Journal Of The Trial Lawyer's College, 2014
  • Forensic Evidence: The Criminal Defense Attorney's Never-Ending Education, Utilizing Forensic Science in Criminal Cases, West Publishing, 2011
  • Speaker, Cross examining Forensic Experts, Minnesota State Bar- Criminal Trial School, 2013
  • Session Leader, Trial Lawyers College, 2013
  • Search Warrants Current Law, BCA Criminal Justice Training, 2011
  • Brief Writing: Clarity and Persuasion, Public Defender District Training, 2008
  • West Law's "Utilizing Forensic Science in Criminal Cases."
Industry Groups:
  • American Academy Of Forensic Science
  • Trial Lawyers College

These comments were made by fellow attorneys during the annual nomination process.

“The best criminal defense attorney I know.”

“John takes on the tough cases. Once he commits he is body and soul involved, and he is excellent at reversing roles with all trial participants and thereby treating all with the respect they deserve, while advocating without compromise for his clients.It is an honor to know John and a valuable asset to the profession and lawyers representing criminal defendants.”

“I worked with Mr. Conard for 5 years at the Public Defender's Office prior to him going into private practice. I have done several trials with him and worked a numerous cases. Since he has been in private practice I have watched him in trial several times. Mr. Conard is one of the smartest and fierciest criminal defense attorneys I have ever had the privilege of working with or watching in action. His work ethic and preparation are unequaled. His forensic DNA knowledge is elite, as are his trial skills. I have no doubt that his clients walk away knowing that they had the best legal defense on their side when they have Mr. Conard.”

“John continues to operate at the very apex of criminal defense and forensic science. He is generous with advice to other lawyers and takes the time out of his day to mentor others.”

“John Conard's 2013 is highlighted by his representation of Jeffrey Trevino in Mr. Trevino's highly publicized murder trial. John received a not guilty verdict on the charge of Second Degree Murder (intentional murder) and a guilty verdict on the charge of Second Degree Murder (unintentional murder). Based on the Sentencing Guidelines Grid, the charges carry a difference of approximately 150 months in prison.”

Office location for John C. Conard

121 S 8th St
Suite 1425
Minneapolis, MN 55402

Phone: 612-464-8471


10 Years Super Lawyers
  • Super Lawyers: 2014 - 2023

Top Lists

Top 100: Minnesota Super Lawyers: 2020

Certificates and credentials

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