Bench & Bar of Minnesota is the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

One Profession

As the new president of the MSBA, the first thing I want to tell you is thanks for being a member of our bar association. We have tremendous volunteer leaders and volunteers and a great staff. We all share one goal: to serve our members. My plan is to use this President’s Page to let you know what is going on in our bar association. 

We are fortunate that our immediate past president, Sonia Miller-Van Oort, led the effort to put together a three-year strategic plan. She helped identify our priorities. One of them is serving as a statewide network and connector. We have 15,000 members working in every corner of Minnesota. This puts us in the unique position of being able to identify problems facing our legal system and find ways to solve those problems. 

In order to facilitate this process, the MSBA has put together a program called One Profession. The idea is that we are all part of one profession. And, if we work together, we can improve our profession, our legal system, and our state. 

The One Profession program will consist of one-day meetings. We will bring together all lawyers in a judicial district for one day to examine the challenges facing the legal profession. The goal is to include the judicial branch and all the lawyers in the district, including those in private practice, county and city attorneys, public defenders, corporate counsel, and unemployed lawyers. The MSBA has the staff and financial resources to organize this type of event. 

The first one was held in January in Duluth. The program was the result of collaborative planning by the Minnesota State Bar Association, the 11th District Bar Association, the Range Bar Association, and Minnesota Lawyers Mutual. The sections participating were the Appellate Practice Law Section, the Civil Litigation Law Section, the Construction Law Section, and the Criminal Law Section. 

We had over 200 lawyers from the 6th Judicial District attend. We started the day with an hour of breakfast with table discussions on challenges facing the legal profession. Then Justice Lillehaug gave an update on recent Supreme Court cases. His presentation was followed by a case law update from the court of appeals by Judge Lucinda Jesson and Judge James Florey. After that, Chief Judge Sally Tarnowski talked to the group about the issues facing the 6th Judicial District. 

During lunch Roberta Walburn spoke about her book, Miles Lord: The Maverick Judge Who Brought Corporate America to Justice. After lunch we had two local lawyers and a judge address the practical considerations involved in accessing the treasure trove of social media evidence. The conference ended with a discussion about how technology is affecting our profession and the risks it poses for our members. 

Ask yourself: Where else can you go to get a chance to address issues facing your practice, a Supreme Court case law update from a Supreme Court justice, a case law update from two judges from the court of appeals, a summary of the issues facing your judicial district from the chief judge, and information from local lawyers on how social media is affecting our profession? The answer is a One Profession program and nowhere else. 

The next One Profession event will be in the 3rd Judicial District on July 27 in Rochester. The agenda will be similar to that of the 6th District meeting. You can sign up for this event at If you live or work in the 3rd Judicial District, I encourage you to attend. You will not be disappointed.


PAUL GODFREY is the Managing Attorney for the Twin Cities Branch Legal Office for Farmers Insurance. He is a trial attorney. He has tried more than 40 cases to jury verdict, with issues ranging from claims for whiplash to claims for wrongful death. 


  1. Larry Rocheford
    Jul 03, 2018

    President Godfrey:

    I wish you the very best as you start your term as MSBA president.Because you are a practical and hard-working “Saint Paul” guy who loves hockey (and skating generally), I know you will serve the MSBA well.

    Wishing you the very best,


  2. Jim Morrison
    Jul 09, 2018

    Dear Mr. President,

    I am inspired by your new endeavor. The bar will be in good hands with you at the helm.

    I look forward to hearing more from you during the year. Congratulations!


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