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

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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New Focus on Referral Fees

Two recent decisions by the Minnesota Supreme Court have renewed interest in and focus on the ethical aspects of attorneys referring cases to other lawyers in a different firm, and the ability to receive a fee or a portion of a fee in return, i.e., fee splitting and the payment of referral fees.  In In […]

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Withdrawing: Must I? May I?

One of the advantages of posting on the Lawyers Board website1 all of the articles written by me, by past directors, and by staff attorneys in this office is that attorneys, or the public, can read or reread them whenever an issue arises that one of the articles addresses. One of the disadvantages of posting […]

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Revisiting Law Firm Names

In June 2009, the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board issued Opinion No. 20, entitled “Use of the Word ‘Associates’ in a Law Firm Name.”1  The opinion limited the use of the term “& Associates” to situations in which a law firm actually had at least two such individuals in addition to any lawyer in the firm […]

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Ethics Rules and Pro Se Lawyers

Recently, the Minnesota Supreme Court has twice determined that Rule 3.3(a)(1), Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC), did not apply to an attorney appearing pro se.1  Rule 3.3(a)(1) prohibits “a lawyer” from knowingly making a false statement of fact or law to a tribunal or failing to correct such a false statement previously made.  This […]

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