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

‘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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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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