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

Lawyer well-being and lawyer regulation

To be a good lawyer, one has to be a healthy lawyer,” wrote the co-chairs of a national panel on lawyer well-being earlier this year in introducing their report, “The Path to Lawyer Well-Being: Practical Recommendations for Positive Change.”1 Your thoughts? At first glance, I think most people would say they agree—this is obvious, right? […]

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Is your firm complying with the Minnesota Professional Firms Act?

Did you know that a legal entity cannot engage in the practice of law in Minnesota unless it is organized under the Minnesota Professional Firms Act (MPFA)?1 Did you know that no firm can provide legal services in Minnesota unless that firm has invoked the requirement of the act and filed certain documents with the […]

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Ethically unbundling legal services

In light of the MSBA’s Pro Bono Week this month, it’s a good time to revisit a legal services model that helps expand litigants’ access to justice: “unbundled” representation. As access-to-justice professionals have noted for some time, it’s not just the very poor who cannot afford legal fees; most people have sticker shock when they […]

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So you’ve received an ethics complaint. What now?

Receiving mail from the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) in an envelope marked “Personal and Confidential” is sure to ruin any lawyer’s day.  Even lawyers who serve as district ethics committee volunteer investigators hate getting mail from the OLPR, notwithstanding the fact that those envelopes are specifically marked “DEC Materials.” Having been on the […]

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How do Minnesota’s attorney discipline numbers compare?

Benchmarking is popular in business. I have found, however, that it is a challenge to benchmark attorney regulation systems given the differing approaches to attorney discipline and regulation among the states. Even though no two systems are identical, it is interesting to look at how different states approach attorney regulation, and to compare how many […]

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Who gets disciplined?

The Annual Report of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board (LPRB) and Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR) was filed with the Minnesota Supreme Court on July 3, 2017. The report, which is posted on the LPRB website at www.lprb.mncourts.gov, covers operations of the LPRB/OLPR for the Court’s fiscal year, July 1, 2016 – June 30, […]

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Helping victims of lawyer dishonesty

Thirty years ago the Minnesota Supreme Court established the Client Security Fund to provide a funding source to pay victims of intentional lawyer dishonesty. It appears the genesis of the fund was the significant losses caused by two attorneys, Mark Sampson and John Flanagan, both of whom were disbarred in the late 1980s for misappropriation […]

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Congressional interest in lawyer advertising

I did not expect to receive letters from Congress when I was appointed as director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility, but that is what my mail contained on March 10, 2017. Congressman Bob Goodlatte (R-Va.), chair of the U.S. House of Representatives Committee on the Judiciary, wrote to me and all other lawyer regulation […]

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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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