John C. Conard

Attorney Profile

Top Rated Criminal Defense Attorney in Minneapolis, MN

Conard Nelson Schaffer, PLLC
 | 310 S. 4th Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55415
Phone: 612-816-6900
Fax: 612-206-3758
Selected To Super Lawyers: 2014 - 2020
Licensed Since: 2006
Practice Areas:
  • Criminal Defense (50%),
  • Criminal Defense: White Collar (50%)
Attorney Profile

Recognized as one of the top trial lawyers in the country, attorney John C. Conard devotes his practice to defending the rights and liberties of those facing white collar crime accusations and other serious criminal charges.

From his law office in Minneapolis, Minnesota, John C. Conard PLLC, Mr. Conard represents clients throughout the Twin Cities region and across the state who need solid, effective defense strategies in order to fight the charges against them and preserve their freedom.

Certified by the Minnesota State Bar Association as a criminal law specialist, Mr. Conard has successfully handled more than 2,000 cases in state and federal courts throughout the country during the course of his 10-year career. From federal crimes and violent offenses to DUI/DWI charges and relatively minor misdemeanors, Mr. Conard has the experience and resources necessary to handle any criminal case regardless of how complex or challenging.

A 1995 graduate of Central College in Pella, Iowa, Mr. Conard obtained his Juris Doctor, summa cum laude, in 2006 from what is now the Mitchell Hamline School of Law in St. Paul, Minnesota. A Founder's Scholarship recipient and winner of several CALI awards, he was a member of the trial competition team and contributor for the Mitchell Hamline Law Review.

The Minnesota State Bar Association admitted him to practice in 2006, and Mr. Conard gained further education and training in trial practice from the Gerry Spence Trial Lawyer's College. In addition, he also received special training in DNA defense from the National Institute of Science and Technology in 2011.

Active in his legal community, Mr. Conard currently sits on the board of the Minnesota Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and he is a member of the American Academy of Forensic Sciences. He is also a member of the Minnesota State Bar Association as well as the Ramsey County Bar Association, the Anoka Bar Association, the Washington County Bar Association and the Chisago County Bar Association.

The recipient of Martindale-Hubbell's Client Distinction Award, Mr. Conard received a perfect 10 out of 10 rating from Avvo, and both The National Trial Lawyers and the Mpls. St. Paul Magazine have named him a top trial lawyer for the past several years.

Practice Areas
  • 50%Criminal Defense
  • 50%Criminal Defense: White Collar
Focus Areas

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


Selected to Super Lawyers for 7 yearsbottom-image

Super Lawyers: 2014 - 2020

MSBA Board Certified Specialists

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About John Conard

Admitted: 2006, Minnesota


  • 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

Special Licenses/Certifications:

  • Gerry Spence Trial Lawyers College, Trial Practice, Graduate II, 2011
  • 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

Bar/Professional Activity:

  • Member, American Academy of Forensic Sciences, 2012 – Present
  • Member, Chicago County Bar Association, 2006 – Present
  • Member, Ramsey County Bar Association, 2006 – Present
  • American College of Trial Lawyers
  • 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

Scholarly Lectures/Writings:

  • Multiple working group sessions to teach advanbced jury selection techniques., Faculty, IAJ- Advanced Voire Dire Workshop, IAJ, 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 evironment 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 trial 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."


  • 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 aquitted 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 compliment 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 brutaully 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 families 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 contiue to practice medicine.
  • Felony Charges Dismissed- Sherburne County- Posession 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 recieved 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 shippment 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 posessed 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.

Representative Clients:

  • 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

Educational Background:

  • Central College, B.A., in Political Science, Philosophy and Economics, 1995

Industry Groups

  • American Academy Of Forensic Science
  • Trial Lawyers College


  • “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.”
  • “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.”
  • “The best criminal defense attorney I know.”
  • “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.”

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

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Office Location for John C. Conard

310 S. 4th Avenue
Minneapolis, MN 55415

Phone: 612-816-6900

Fax: 612-206-3758

John C. Conard:

Last Updated: 1/31/2020

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