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

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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Client Files: The ABA Weighs In

What took them so long? The issue of returning client files—or, more technically, what constitutes the papers and property to which a former client is entitled upon termination of representation—is a common source of advisory opinion requests, complaints and even discipline.1 It is a topic on which not all scholars and ethics experts agree. Yet […]

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Top Ten List

I miss David Letterman! Letterman retired in May of this year, and I will be joining him at the end of this year.1 What I particularly miss is Letterman’s almost nightly and usually goofy “top ten list” segment. I did not think I would miss that bit, but I find that I do. The Office of […]

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Dealing with Unrepresented Persons

The rules relating to the adversary system in a “perfect world” envision two equal parties represented by competent, diligent counsel who play fair under the rules of professional conduct, civil or criminal procedure, evidence, etc.  On some occasions, it turns out that way—but frequently it does not.  This may never be truer than when an […]

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A Commentary on the Comments

The Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) consist of “black letter” rules that establish the standards with which lawyers must comply or face discipline. The rules have comments attached to them, usually those adopted by the ABA as part of its Model Rules of Professional Conduct, upon which the MRPC is based. What is the […]

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New and Noteworthy

Several developments in the area of professional responsibility have occurred in a fairly short period of time since the start of this year. Each warrants comment but perhaps not an entire column, so this month I’ll address a few marginally related matters under the heading “new and noteworthy.”1 Amendments to the MRPC On February 27, […]

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Summary of Private Discipline

In calendar year 2014, the Director’s Office resolved 143 files with admonitions that were issued to Minnesota attorneys for isolated and nonserious violations of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC).  Another 18 lawyers entered into stipulations for private probation that were approved by the Lawyers Board chair; these stipulations resolved an additional 29 complaint […]

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Summary of Public Discipline

Again this year, this column will feature a summary of the previous year’s public discipline decisions1 in addition to a summary of private disciplinary dispositions, which will follow next month.  Even though public discipline decisions can be obtained from various sources (especially on the internet), such as from the LPRB website or the Minnesota Supreme […]

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Taking Stock

At the end of a year, or the start of a new one, many individuals “take stock” of their life situation in order to make some decisions about the future.  Businesses likewise take stock, including literally taking inventory counts, to determine where they have been and where they are going as an entity.1  A government […]

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