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

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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Harassment and attorney ethics

Time’s 2017 Person of the Year was the “Silence Breakers,” women who courageously went public with allegations of sexual misconduct against powerful men. These individuals, and the #MeToo movement they spawned, were honored because they, and the media covering their stories, set in motion a high-velocity cultural shift by effectively “pushing us all to stop […]

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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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