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

MSBA President 2015-16: Mike Unger

Getting It Done With Mike Unger Mike Unger, the incoming president of the Minnesota State Bar Association, is entering office with a to-do list, and he’s already started checking things off. Noting that he’s always been impressed by people who get things done, Unger explains his philosophy of service this way: “I’m practically oriented. I just […]

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My Trip to the State Bar Convention (1927)

Introduction by Justice David Lillehaug Years ago I practiced at the Minneapolis law firm that is now Stinson Leonard Street, where a colleague shared with me a short essay by founding partner George B. Leonard. In the essay, which I have edited for length and clarity, Leonard describes his driving trip to the 1927 state […]

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A New Day in Minnesota Trust Law

The first major revision of Minnesota trust law in a generation will take effect next year. The new Chapter 501C, which incorporates many features of the Uniform Trust Code, seeks to fill in the blanks in the state’s 1989 statute and to make Minnesota more competitive in an ever-changing trust landscape. [Editor’s note: An abridged […]

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2015 Legislative Session Recap 

In a year marked by the return of divided government in Minnesota—and the passage of a record-low number of bills—the interests of the bar were nonetheless well served. Session highlights included increased funding for the justice system and a package of major family law reforms. Groucho Marx is credited with saying, “Politics is the art […]

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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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