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

Attention general counsel: UPL and you

Earlier this year, the Ohio Supreme Court publicly disciplined the general counsel of a large corporation for the unauthorized practice of law.1 This GC was licensed to practice law in Ohio, but joined the law department of a Florida-based corporation and moved to Florida in 2009.  He did not, however, become licensed in Florida, where […]

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When someone else pays your bill

I love our ethics hotline.1 Not only are we helping lawyers every day to navigate their ethical responsibilities, but oftentimes the questions present themes that make perfect subjects for this column. Lately I’ve answered several calls that involve issues arising because someone else was paying the lawyer’s bill. This can arise in lots of different practice […]

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What you don’t know about trust accounts can hurt you

The Minnesota Supreme Court has publicly disciplined several attorneys this year for trust account errors. I have previously written on this topic,1 and because it’s important and the consequences are so serious, I would appreciate your attention once again if you are in private practice. This time I’d like to tell you the tale of […]

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Matchmaking services for lawyers

Matching consumers with legal needs to lawyers who can meet those needs is certainly a worthy endeavor. Because there is no shortage of lawyers looking for work—and, according to numerous studies, a large number of people who cannot find qualified lawyers they can afford—entrepreneurs see this as a prime business opportunity. Text a Lawyer I […]

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File contents and retention

What makes up a client’s file and how long do I need to keep it? These two questions have been asked frequently on our ethics hotline for decades. Minnesota’s ethics rules speak to the first question but offer no direct guidance on the latter. Let’s review the current lay of the land.  File contents Calling […]

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Divorce and conflicts

Divorce and conflict: two words that go easily together. But what about amicable or friendly divorces? Are they conflict-free?  Conflicts are a frequent source of questions on our ethics hotline. In 2017, 30 percent of hotline calls involved a conflict of interest question. One issue I have been routinely surprised to hear on the hotline […]

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Are you in good standing?

Every year, you are required to renew your attorney license by timely paying the annual registration fee.1 Attorneys with last names ending in A-E have a renewal date of January 1 of each year, attorneys with last names of F-K have a renewal date of April 1 of each year, and so on quarterly through […]

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Spring trust account cleanup

Spring cleaning is something I always aspire to do but never get around to doing. Even so, I enjoy thinking about all of the ways I could and should get my life together each spring, and I usually manage one or two small projects. Although I have written about trust accounts previously, a string of […]

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Private discipline in 2017

In 2017, 90 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 is down markedly from the 115 admonitions issued in 2016 and, coincidentally, 2015. Additionally, 14 files were closed with […]

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2017 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. In 2017, 40 attorneys were publicly disciplined, with discipline ranging from a reprimand to disbarment. This number is slightly down from […]

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