A former prosecutor who in recent years represented businesses in private practice will soon be the top lawyer at the University of Minnesota.

The U announced Tuesday the selection of Douglas Peterson, a partner at the law firm Stinson Leonard Street, as general counsel. The U’s legal team has a broad mission, tackling everything from civil defense to real estate and patent law.

If approved by the Board of Regents in early September, Peterson will replace Bill Donohue, a longtime deputy general counsel who assumed the top job in 2013. Donohue is retiring.

President Eric Kaler said in 2013 that Donohue’s term would be limited as they searched for a more permanent general counsel.

Peterson has represented many high-profile clients, most recently as one of the attorneys advocating that Bremer Trust handle Prince’s estate.

He has also represented many local companies and executives facing government probes. In the 2000s, he represented the former CEO of an office product parts company, Terence Michael Clarke, in a tax fraud case which federal prosecutors said at the time was the state’s largest.

Peterson was previously an assistant U.S. Attorney for 11 years, bringing cases against gang kingpins, major drug dealers and a variety of fraudsters. He left that office in 1997.

“The general counsel is an extraordinarily important role, and we are confident that Doug’s knowledge of the law and extensive litigation and public sector experience will ensure a smooth transition,” Board of Regents Chairman Dean Johnson said in a statement.

Peterson said he’s humbled by the appointment.

“This is a university with a public mission of many dimensions,” Peterson said in an interview. “And I hope to be a part of addressing the various issues that the university is tackling as it goes about its work.”


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