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

‘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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The unseen work of the OLPR

Investigating and prosecuting unprofessional conduct takes up most of the time of personnel in the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR), and is the primary responsibility of the OLPR pursuant to court rule.1 However, the OLPR performs a number of other important functions that might be of interest to attorneys in Minnesota. Advisory Opinions Every […]

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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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Our ethical responsibility to help ourselves and our colleagues

The recently released ABA/Hazelden survey1 and the new data on law students2 serve as a stark reminder of the challenges we face as a profession. Both studies confirm what we have known all along: Lawyers and law students suffer from chemical and mental illness at significantly higher rates than the rest of the population.3 What […]

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Summary of private discipline

“The more things change, the more they stay the same” may be a cliché, but in the area of lawyer conduct, there is some truth in the saying. In 2015, as in many other years, more complaints arose out of family law and criminal matters than from other types of matters. Also as in many […]

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Reflections of a volunteer in the disciplinary process

As the end of my term1 as chair of the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board (LPRB) nears, I’m frequently asked whether I am relieved to complete my term and what I’ll do with the “extra” time I’ll have. This last Professional Responsibility column is a good time to address both. Let me first say that I’ve […]

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To Every Thing There Is a Season

This will be my final column for Bench & Bar of Minnesota after almost 10 years as director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (OLPR), and over 31 years working in the director’s office at varying attorney levels. I have served six chief justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court, seven Lawyers Board chairs and […]

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Crunching Numbers

File aging can be a legitimate issue in the operation of the lawyer disciplinary system, but in the past year or so it feels as if there has been more anecdotal concern expressed about how long disciplinary investigations take than ever before. But analysis and decisions based upon anecdotes can be misguided. There are, of […]

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Private Probation: Saving a Career?

On average, the Minnesota Supreme Court orders a period of probation for seven attorneys each year. Almost all of these are attached to a public reprimand for some act (or acts) of misconduct sufficiently serious to warrant public discipline, yet not so serious as to require that the attorney be suspended. Attorneys reinstated from suspension […]

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