MSBA Certified Civil Trial Specialist
Steve joined Pemberton Law in 1974 and works in the Fergus Falls office. Steve’s practice includes general civil litigation, personal injury, auto and farm accidents, business litigation, professional malpractice, real estate, construction, and aviation. Foremost in Steve’s practice of law is his concern for his clients. Every client and every case is important. He has achieved settlements for clients in excess of one million dollars on several occasions.
Every year, Steve is selected as a “Super Lawyer” by Minnesota Law & Politics and was selected as a leading attorney in Minnesota by American Research Institute.
Professionally, he is a past chair of the Civil Litigation Section of the Minnesota State Bar
Association and is also on the Board of Governors of the Minnesota Association for Justice. Steve is licensed to practice in state and federal courts in both Minnesota and North Dakota. He is a MSBA Board Certified Specialist in Civil Trial Law and is a Civil Trial Specialist certified by the National Board of Trial Advocacy.
He served on the MSBA Civil Litigation Jury Task force from 1994 to 1996 and was the publications
committee co-chair for the Minnesota Association for Justice. He served on the MNAJ Board of
Governors from 1996 – 2006. He is a member of the Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of
Minnesota and was elected to its Board of Governors in 1996, where he continues to serve. He
currently serves on the Minnesota Judicial Selection Commission, appointed by Governor Mark
Dayton. He serves as a neutral for both arbitration and mediation. He was selected to serve on the panel of
arbitrators for the Prudential Insurance mass litigation appeals process, deciding dozens of appeals by
policyholders. He serves as a panel member of the Aircraft Owners and Pilots Association legal
A Fergus Falls native, Steve graduated from Fergus Falls High School and was awarded a National
Merit Scholarship to attended Macalester College, where he graduated Magna Cum Laude, was a
member of Phi Beta Kappa, and was president of student government. Steve graduated Cum Laude
in 1974 from the University of Minnesota Law School.
In the community, Steve is a member of United Methodist Church of Peace, member and past
president of the Otter-Risers Kiwanis Club, and is past president of Fergus Falls Center for the Arts.
Steve is a trustee and past board chair of Lake Region Healthcare Corporation and director, general
counsel, and past president of Communicating for America, Inc., a non-profit rural advocacy group
which hosts the largest international agricultural exchange program in the country. Steve is past
president of the Otter Tail County Historical Society and the Otter Tail County Bar Association. He
is an Eagle Scout and is involved in Boy Scouts (where he currently serves as District Finance
Chair), and has served on the Fergus Area College Foundation board, the Salvation Army community
board, the regional board of KCCM-Minnesota Public Radio and the board of Pioneer Public TV. He
is also a trustee of the Roger and Agnes Dell Charitable Trust and is chair of Fergus Falls Downtown
Council, Inc. Steve rides annually in Minnesota's MS150 bike ride. Steve’s interests include travel,
bicycling, photography, history, politics and camping. Steve is a licensed commercial pilot and
certified flight instructor. He is married to Sandy Rufer, an American Sign Language interpreter, and
has three grown children and five grandchildren.