James W. Balmer

Founding Partner

Since 1973, Jim Balmer has represented thousands of people in all kinds of litigation, including injury trials, workers’ compensation trials and hearings, Social Security Disability hearings, and appeals in those areas. He has handled car crashes, trips and falls, work site injuries, defective product claims, dog attacks, liquor liability claims and other bodily injury matters. Jim lectures at various seminars, primarily in the area of trial tactics.

Jim is admitted to practice before all Minnesota and Wisconsin courts, both state and federal, and has tried cases throughout both states. He has argued cases before the Seventh U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago and the Eighth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, headquartered in St. Louis and St. Paul. 

His experience and familiarity with courtroom law results in Jim having been certified as a civil trial specialist by the National Board of Trial Advocacy since 1986, over 30 years.  He has been certified in this specialty by the Minnesota State Bar Association since 1987, the first year the MSBA recognized such specialty certification.

Jim has been a member of the American Board of Trial Advocates (“ABOTA”) since 2002 and is currently ranked as a Diplomate, the most exclusive classification of non-judicial membership. He is the only ABOTA Diplomate in Minnesota north of the Twin Cities.

Jim has been recognized as a Minnesota Super Lawyer in Plaintiff’s Personal Injury for well over 20 years.

Jim is listed in the prestigious “Best Lawyers in America” as a personal injury specialist representing plaintiffs. This same listing service has recognized Jim as Duluth area Plaintiff’s Personal Injury Lawyer of the Year in 2017 and 2019.

Jim was named the 2010 Volunteer Attorney of the Year for the Sixth Judicial District by the Volunteer Attorney Program. The award recognizes the lawyer who has given most generously of his or her time and talents to provide free legal help to lower income residents of northeastern Minnesota.

Jim is active in his local Roman Catholic parish. Jim is president of the Duluth Bethel Society and past member and vice-president of the Animal Allies Boards of Directors. He has also served on the Board of Duluth Union Gospel Mission.

Honors & Awards

The Best Lawyers in America, 2005 – Present

Duluth Plaintiff’s Lawyer of the Year, Best Lawyers, 2017, 2019

AV-Rated, Martindale-Hubbell

Minnesota Super Lawyer

Volunteer Attorney of the Year, Sixth Judicial District, Volunteer Attorney Program

Diplomate, American Board of Trial Advocates, since 2002 – Present

Professional Associations & Memberships

Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA)

11th District Bar Association

State Bar of Wisconsin

American Board of Trial Advocates, Advocate, 2002 – present

Minnesota Association of Justice, 1985 – present

American Association of Justice, 2016 – present

Areas of Practice

Personal Injury

Workers’ Compensation

Certified Legal Specialties

Civil Trial Specialist, National Board of Trial Advocacy, 1986 – present

Civil Trial Specialist, Minnesota State Bar Association, 1989 – present

Representative Cases

Engele v. ISD No. 91, 846 F. Supp. 760 (D.Minn.), 1994

Stone v. Lakehead Constructors, 533 N.W.2d 36 (Minn., 1995)

Rankin v. Mid-Century Insurance Co., No. C6-00-1657 (Minn.App. 2001)

Soderberg v. Anderson, 922 N.W.2d 200 (Minn. 2019)

Bar Admissions

Minnesota, 1973

U.S. District Court District of Minnesota, 1974

U.S. Court of Appeals 8th Circuit, 1985

Wisconsin, 1984

U.S. District Court Western District of Wisconsin, 1985

U.S. District Court Eastern District of Wisconsin, 2008

U.S. Court of Appeals 7th Circuit, 1986


University of Minnesota Law School, Minneapolis, Minnesota – J.D. – 1973

University of Minnesota-Duluth, Duluth, Minnesota – B.A. – 1970

Pro Bono Activities

President of The Duluth Bethel Society Board of Directors

Past Vice President of Animal Allies Board of Directors