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

When “Public Space” Isn’t Public

Shopping malls may be the new town squares in many respects, but in Minnesota and many other states, citizens leave their free speech rights at the door. The Black Lives Matter protesters who rallied inside the Mall of America last December drew attention not only to police practices and race relations, but also the rights […]

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Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession

Changes in technology, economics and client expectations are producing wholesale disruptions in the traditional practice of law. But for those who understand and embrace the challenges, argues a new book from Oxford University Press, there’s a brighter future ahead. Charles Dickens wrote Bleak House as a serial in the 1850s and published it as a […]

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“American lawyers are a hardy bunch”

Glass Half Full author Benjamin Barton talks about the changes buffeting the legal profession—and the grounds for his abiding optimism about its future The narrative arc of Ben Barton’s Glass Half Full: The Decline and Rebirth of the Legal Profession describes a tough balancing act: The book is a daunting catalog of the many  challenges sweeping […]

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See you in (Court) Arbitration: The Treatment of Arbitration Agreements in Minnesota Courts

It’s a long-established principle that state and federal courts hold arbitration in high regard. But some related issues – such as whether courts or arbitrators are to decide particular matters – are not as widely understood. If you seek to enforce or contest an arbitration agreement, you must be aware that courts view arbitration with […]

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In Defense of Public Defenders

Minnesota’s chronically underfunded public defender system is looking for more resources at the Minnesota Legislature this year in hopes of increasing staff and reducing caseloads. It’s part of a six-year funding plan designed to get Minnesota PDs closer to the ABA’s national standards for public defenders. In nearly half the counties in Minnesota, a poor […]

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CRTs: A Powerful Tool for Income-Tax Planning

Charitable Remainder Trusts have been around a long time. But in cases involving extraordinary income events or certain kinds of underperforming assets, they offer estate planning advantages that deserve a fresh look. Charitable Remainder Trusts (CRTs) have long been considered useful estate planning tools to reduce the grantor’s liability for income and estate taxes while satisfying a philanthropic objective […]

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When Legal Concepts Collide: Custody, Guardianship, and Minnesota Law

For decades, family law and guardianship have existed as distinct legal regimes with very different purposes. But recent changes to Minnesota child support laws have set them at odds with each other, with sometimes disastrous results for families whose children have disablities. Collisions are messy. When cars or trains or planes collide, the outcome is noisy, painful, and […]

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‘Band of Brothers’ Scores Pro Bono Win

How perseverance, determination and a bit of luck finally brought VA benefits to a traumatized Vietnam vet.   In a 2009 photo, attorneys (left to right) Patrick Mahlberg, Patrick Burns, John Satorius, and John Degnan stand with their client Larry Stigen. It’s been nearly five years since Bench & Bar brought you the story of Larry […]

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Pandora’s Inbox: NLRB Changes Email Rules

The National Labor Relations Board’s recent decision in Purple Communications ushers in a new policy for the workplace in response to the accelerating technological changes of our society, and significantly enhances employees’ ability to organize to form unions and engage in concerted activities for the purpose of collective bargaining.1 On December 11, 2014, the board […]

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Continuous Representation Doctrine: Why Minnesota Should Say No

A 2013 order in Hennepin County District Court revived calls for the state to adopt a continuous representation standard for legal malpractice akin to the continuing treatment standard that applies to medical malpractice in Minnesota. But a comparison of our law to that of states that embrace continuous representation suggests it would be a bad policy choice. The statute […]

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