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Your duty to report

Imagine the following scenario: Counsel at a motion hearing is unusually discourteous, interrupting opposing counsel and talking over the court. The motion is argued, not particularly competently, and submitted. Following the hearing, counsel experiences what appears to be a serious medical emergency, and medical and bailiff personnel are called. Shortly thereafter, counsel and the court […]

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Private discipline in 2016

In 2016, 115 files were closed by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) with the issuance of an admonition, a form of private discipline issued for professional misconduct that is isolated and non-serious.1 This number, coincidentally, is the same as the number of admonitions issued in 2015. Additionally, 17 lawyers were placed on private […]

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2016 year in review: Public discipline

Public discipline in professional responsibility cases is imposed not to punish the attorney, but to protect the public, the profession and the judicial system, and to deter future misconduct by the attorney and others. As of December 15, 2016, 42 attorneys were publicly disciplined in 2016, with discipline ranging from a reprimand to disbarment. This […]

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What happens to clients upon your death or disability?

Recently, the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has been appointed as trustee for seven attorneys who died unexpectedly without a plan in place to return client files or disburse funds in trust. One or two trustee appointments a year is typical; seven is very unusual. More surprisingly, several of the appointments did not involve senior […]

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Multijurisdictional practice and UPL risk

A recent Minnesota Supreme Court decision serves as a good reminder for Minnesota attorneys to review your practice activities to the extent they may extend beyond Minnesota to ensure you are not unintentionally engaged in the unauthorized practice of law in a state where you are not licensed. On August 31, 2016, the Minnesota Supreme Court […]

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Is your trust account in order?

Handling other people’s money carries with it serious responsibilities. I am glad I have never had to maintain a trust account. Large firms have the luxury of dedicating specific individuals (attorneys and bookkeepers) to that task; in-house counsel and lawyers in public service rarely handle client funds directly. My brother, an attorney, recently opened his […]

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‘Reply all’ and some thoughts on flat fees

Earlier this year, this column included a summary of private discipline issued in 2015.1 The article included a summary of an admonition for violation of Rule 4.2, Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC), resulting from an attorney’s use of the “reply all” email feature. This summary caught the attention of many members of the bar […]

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Demystifying the handling of lawyer complaints

No one likes to receive communications from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, particularly in envelopes marked “Personal and Confidential.” Your heart may miss a beat, or a pit may form in your stomach, and your first thought may be, “What have I done?” I know I felt that way when, as a young lawyer, […]

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‘That’s a terrible job’: How this lawyer ended up director of the OLPR

In December 2015, I told a family member that I had an interview for the position of director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) and the Client Security Board (CSB). The response? “That’s a terrible job: whiny complainants, lawyers as respondents (!) and opposing counsel, mostly frivolous complaints, and your peers think you […]

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