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

Summary of Private Discipline

In calendar year 2013, the Director’s Office resolved 144 files with admonitions that were issued to Minnesota attorneys for isolated and nonserious violations of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC).  Another 13 lawyers entered into stipulations for private probation that were approved by the Lawyers Board chair; these stipulations resolved an additional 18 complaint […]

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Summary of Public Discipline

Last year, this column for the first time featured a summary of the previous year’s public discipline decisions,1 in addition to the annual summary of private disciplinary dispositions.  It proved to be a successful endeavor, generating several favorable comments over the year.  Public discipline summaries are regular features in many state’s bar publications, either monthly […]

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When Incivility Crosses the Line

“You can’t legislate morality.”1  However true this may or may not be, it has spawned an understanding among lawyers to the effect that you cannot legislate civility in the practice of law, at least not via the lawyer discipline system.  A recent Florida discipline case shone a spotlight on this concept.  In Florida Bar v. […]

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Beware of Ethics Information Overload

Have we run out of useful things to say or write about professional responsibility?  While this question easily could apply to me and this column, in fact, I refer to various entities that have, over the years, regularly issued opinions on topics related to professional responsibility.  I sense a marked decline of such opinions in […]

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Responsibility to Mentor

“Tell me and I forget, teach me and I may remember, involve me and I learn.” —Benjamin Franklin As I’ve done in the past, while Marty Cole is away I’ll turn this month’s focus to “responsibility to the profession” rather than “professional responsibility.”  Professional responsibility generally refers to the body of rules that govern our […]

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As incredible as it sometimes seems to me, I joined the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility as a staff attorney (then, as now, entitled an assistant director) in September 1984, after a short time in private practice.  It is now September 2013 as I write this.  How time flies!  Also then as now, the director […]

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Government Lawyer Conflicts

Conflicts of interest can arise for lawyers in all areas of practice.  The subject is of such importance that there are essentially eight rules in the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC) that deal principally with conflict issues.1 Most of these rules can be applied over a wide range of legal areas and types of […]

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Disciplinary Recidivism

Since the start of 2010, 121 attorneys1 have been publicly disciplined by the Minnesota Supreme Court (as of July 3, 2013).  Twenty-five of these lawyers had been publicly disciplined previously.  An additional 41 of them had been privately disciplined previously.2  Fifty-five lawyers (45%), therefore, had never been disciplined prior to receiving public discipline. As these […]

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Frivolous Litigation

Frivolous litigation is one of those areas in the law where we “know it when we see it,” even if we cannot provide a perfect definition.  Everyone has heard anecdotal stories of cases that get labeled as the most frivolous lawsuits of all time, some accurate (there was indeed a lawsuit filed against McDonald’s for […]

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Changing for the Better

The Minneapolis StarTribune recently ran a front-page story about lawyer discipline,1 which accurately reported that the number of lawyers publicly disciplined had risen from 26 in 2010 and 2011 to 38 in 2012. The article further reported that the number was on pace to exceed that total in 2013, and possibly match the record total […]

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