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

Three Rules of Professional Conduct

There are Rules of Professional Conduct with which an active attorney crosses paths almost every day. Whether the attorney stops to think about it or not, the rules on competence, diligence, communication, fees, confidentiality and others are an integral part of a lawyer’s daily existence; if not, then they should be. Then there are some […]

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Professional Ethics & Elimination of Bias

As I write this month’s column, we are in the midst of the annual end-of-season blitz of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) seminars, just in time for those attorneys who need credits before their three-year reporting deadline arrives.  Especially prominent and popular are seminars on legal ethics and elimination of bias (EOB).  As I hope all […]

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Ethics Issues in ADR Practice

A new cable television series, “Fairly Legal,” reportedly depicts the world of mediation as remarkably glamorous and profitable.  By way of disclaimer, I’ve never seen an entire episode of this show, only promos and snippets while channel surfing, so my take may be skewed. But I have to wonder whether many (any?) lawyers engaged in […]

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Fee Disputes

In my discussions with lawyers around the state during bar functions or continuing legal education presentations, I’ve learned that there are many myths, or at least misunderstandings, about what types of complaints the Office of the Director of Lawyers Professional Responsibility investigates or doesn’t investigate, and about what types of matter can result in discipline.  […]

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Summary of Admonitions

In calendar year 2010, the Director’s Office resolved 122 files with admonitions that were issued to Minnesota attorneys for isolated and nonserious misconduct.1 Twenty-six lawyers entered into stipulations for private probation that were approved by the Lawyers Board chair;2 these stipulations resolved an additional 34 complaint files.  A summary of the admonitions and private probation […]

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Life Begins at 40

On January 4, 1971, a small state agency began operations.1 It was called the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility and operated in conjunction with the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board, which oversaw the office and acted as adjudicators in contested matters.  The substantive disciplinary rules that the office was established to enforce had been in effect […]

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Keeping Up With the Neighbors

Each month, a fairly large volume of mail crosses my desk. Even with the Director’s Office’s excellent staff processing the majority of new complaints, district ethics committee reports, case-related correspondence, complainant appeals, etc., there is still no shortage of documents and information crossing my desk. Thus, sometimes I almost miss reviewing a particularly interesting and useful […]

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Complainant Appeals

A unique and often misunderstood aspect of the lawyer discipline system is the right of a complainant to appeal a private disposition of their complaint.1 If a complaint is dismissed without investigation (usually referred to as summarily dismissed), dismissed after investigation, results in the issuance of an admonition, or results in a stipulation for private probation […]

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Direct Adversity Conflicts

Conflict of interest: The term is used frequently today in public discourse as well as by lawyers and consumers of legal services.  To most people, it no doubt indicates something bad, something to be avoided.  In the context of the practice of law, the term is occasionally used loosely in situations that may not in […]

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To Protect and Deter

“To Serve and Protect” is the well-known motto of police forces everywhere.  While there isn’t an official, comparable motto for lawyer discipline agencies, many courts have supplied one, even if unwittingly.  “To Protect and Deter” could be so proclaimed, since courts have often declared that the purposes of lawyer discipline are protection of the public and […]

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