Since 1883, the Minnesota State Bar Association has been a source of information and collegiality for Minnesota lawyers. A voluntary association, the MSBA's membership currently numbers nearly 16,000.
To aid the courts in the administration of justice.
To apply the knowledge and experience of the profession to the public good.
To maintain in the profession high standards of learning, competence, ethics, and public service.
To conduct a program of continuing legal education.
To organize into the MSBA the entire Bench and Bar of Minnesota and correlate the activities of affiliated associations.
To provide a forum for the discussion of subjects pertaining to the practice of law, the science of jurisprudence and law reform, and to publish information relating thereof.
To cooperate with other bar associations and organizations to further MSBA objectives.
To accomplish these goals, MSBA conducts a program of continuing legal education, provides a forum for discussion of subjects pertaining to the practice of law, the science of jurisprudence and law reform, regularly publishes information of interest to members of the profession and cooperates with other law related associations to represent the entire Bench and Bar of Minnesota. The association also organizes programs to educate the public on law-related issues, provides advice and counsel to the Minnesota Supreme Court and other judicial bodies and provides members with information and assistance to manage their law practices and legal careers better.
MSBA sponsors one general membership meeting each year. In June, the association convention provides members with social and networking opportunities, continuing legal education and an opportunity to determine association policy on issues affecting the profession.
The MSBA governance system includes a council of 15 members that oversees operations of the association, and an assembly of 122 that determines association policy. The MSBA also is associated with the Minnesota State Bar Foundation, which provides funding for programs to serve low-income people and to encourage law-related education. The MSBA staff includes approximately 30 professional and support personnel.
In 1883 when the charter members gathered to form the association, Minnesota had a population of about 780,773. There were 107 lawyers and law firms listed in the Minneapolis city directory. The charter members looked to the future and proposed the association "to cultivate the science of jurisprudence, to promote reform in the law, to facilitate the administration of justice, to elevate the standards of liberal legal education, to cherish a spirit of brotherhood among the members thereof and to perpetuate their memory." These ideals have been the guiding stars in the MSBA's 120 years of expansion, consistency, and achievement.
On April 3, 1883, a group of lawyers met in conjunction with the opening of the general term of the Supreme Court. Their purpose was to consider formation of a state bar association. A month later the group met again. This time a constitution and bylaws were adopted. The charter members paid three dollars upon the signing of the constitution with dues set at two dollars per year after admission. The MSBA was officially in existence. Meeting in Duluth in 1926, the association adopted an affiliated district bar plan and also a new constitution. As the MSBA's role began to expand, a public relations committee was appointed in 1937 to air a radio program nationwide and encourage other states to participate. In 1945, renewed efforts focused on raising the image of the attorney and educate the public regarding the legal community.
More moves, increases in membership and revitalization of the organization have brought the state bar association to its peak today with over 15,744 members. Through the years, the association's role has changed. Emphasis has shifted between a trade union/business group and being a professional organization, and between being an educational advocate and being a public relations arm. In all, it has also been a social and supportive group for colleagues. The roles have not remained static and will likely not be made concrete in the future. The changing roles reflect the MSBA's ability to assess the current times and follow its original purpose in any situation or era.
The goals in the original purpose have also provided a foundation for common pursuits through the years. In its formative years, the MSBA faced the issues of ethics and professional responsibility, quality legal education, law reform, judicial selection, salaries and workload, workers' compensation, and the possibility of an integrated bar. There has been a constant effort to balance the bar's interests with those of outside forces and groups who present a constant challenge to the profession.
Cultivating the jurisprudence has led to great achievements in the history of the MSBA. Acting on its purpose outlined in 1883, the MSBA has accepted a leadership role in both Minnesota and the United States. As early as 1914 the MSBA recognized a need for a uniform rule that all applicants for admission to the bar should be required to pass an examination set by the State Board of Law Examiners. The MSBA took an active role in ensuring that this became state practice. The MSBA also urged passage of the federal suffrage amendment and recommended that the Minnesota Legislature ratify it. The MSBA has been involved in the establishment of the state public defender's office in 1965, the mandatory continuing legal education system in 1975, and the Lawyer Trust Account Board in 1982. The MSBA's comprehensive Long Range Plan has been turned into a model by the ABA and is sold to interested parties.
The bar association continues to meet difficult issues head on-as proposed by the charter members in 1883. The MSBA as an organization has experienced tremendous growth in both size and scope. Common threads have bridged the years, and will likely carry lawyers into the future. A willingness to take a leadership role-to step forward on behalf of its goals-has made the MSBA a front-runner in our nation. Over one hundred years have provided a stable foundation which attorneys today can use as a stepping stone to the future.
The MSBA Today
With the initial membership of fewer than 100 dedicated attorneys, the MSBA has grown to its present membership of over 15,500. Dues have increased from two dollars per year to the present senior dues of $213. Annual budgets have increased from approximately $700 in 1901 to in excess of $3 million. With this growth in size and resources has come a resounding increase in activity and extent of programming, serving the membership, the public, and the legal system. Management has grown from an all-volunteer bar association to a fully staffed operation located in downtown Minneapolis assisting both the governing body and the total membership. We are truly a full-service bar association.
The MSBA publishes one periodical. Bench & Bar is the association's flagship publication. Published eleven times a year, Bench & Bar contains articles on issues of substantive law and trends in the profession. The January issue of the publication is a directory of all members of the MSBA. It also lists MSBA leaders, other law-related associations, legal services programs, Supreme Court boards and panels, judges and court personnel in the 10 Minnesota judicial districts and other information of importance to the profession. Contact: Judson Haverkamp, 612-278-6333.
Section and Committees
The MSBA provides assistance to 34 sections for lawyers who practice in the following areas: administrative law, agricultural law, alternative dispute resolution, antitrust, animal law, appellate practice, arts and entertainment law, bankruptcy, business law, children's law, civil litigation, communications law, computer law, construction law, criminal law, elder law, employee benefits, environmental and natural resources law, family law, law student section, food and drug law, general practice, health law, immigration, international business law, labor and employment law, new lawyers, outstate practice, practice development, probate and trust law, public law, real property law and tax law. Sections offer their members educational programs and networking and public service opportunities. Many sections also publish newsletters for their members. The MSBA has 25 committees to assist with association strategic planning and governance or to address issues of interest to the profession. Contact: Renee Anderson, 612-278-6336.
Minnesota Continuing Legal Education
A division of the MSBA, Minnesota Continuing Legal Education offers approximately 575 live and video courses for lawyers each year. MCLE is governed by a separate board and maintains offices in St. Paul, with a conference center located in the Minnesota Law Center near the MSBA offices. Contact: Minnesota Continuing Legal Education: 651-227-8266.
The MSBA operates certification programs for lawyers who practice in the areas of civil litigation and real property. Contact: Meaghan Harper, 612-278-6318.
Through the Colleague program, the MSBA offers members seeking advice an opportunity to contact another member who is more experienced in a particular practice area. Members volunteer to answer calls through Colleague confidentially. Contact: Colleague Program, 612-333-1183.
Donated legal services
The MSBA works with the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition and legal aid offices that serve all of the state's counties to provide opportunities for attorneys to donate services to the public. The MSBA publishes a Volunteer Attorney Desk Manual that answers common questions related to poverty law. It also prints a Pro Bono Opportunities Directory periodically to list organizations seeking donated legal services. Through the Law Firm Pro Bono Roundtable, the MSBA helps legal services programs to find volunteer attorneys for unusual or unusually difficult cases. Contact: Caroline Palmer, 612-333-1183.
The MSBA provides support to sections and committees as they represent the interests of the profession before the Minnesota Legislature. The association also publishes the Legislative Report during the legislative session and manages a network of legislative contacts. Contact: Nancy Mischel, 612-333-1183.
High School Mock Trial/student education
Nearly 2,000 students from about 150 high schools in Minnesota participate in the High School Mock Trial program. The program is an academic competition in which students portray lawyers and witnesses and argue a fictitious case. More than 700 Minnesota lawyers volunteer as mock trial coaches or judges. In addition to organizing regional competitions, the MSBA hosts a state tournament for the top 12 teams statewide in March. The MSBA also is the author of two law-related education programs, A Look at Law, a teacher's guide for teaching law to elementary students, and The Student Lawyer, a high school text available through West Publishing. Contact: Emily Riley, 612-333-1183.
The MSBA provides resources and ideas to broadcast and print media. Contact: Pat Everheart, 612-278-6319.
SERVICES TO THE JUSTICE SYSTEM
Appointees to Supreme Court Boards. The MSBA Board of Governor's nominates about 1/3rd of the members of Minnesota Supreme Court boards, including appointees to boards dealing the professional responsibility, the client security fund, judicial responsibility and the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Account board. Contact: Pat Everheart, 612-278-6319.
Recommendations on court rules. The MSBA assists the district and appellate courts through its Court Rules and Administration committees. These committees frequently make recommendations to the court on changes in the rules governing procedure or lawyer behavior. Recent recommendations have dealt with issues such as cameras in the court, sex with clients and lawyer advertising. Contact: Nancy Mischel, 612-333-1183.
Minnesota State Bar Foundation. The Minnesota State Bar Foundation makes grants four times a year to organizations seeking to provide legal assistance to low-income people, improvements in the administration of justice or law-related education. Contact: Caroline Palmer, 612-333-1183.
Chair: Elizabeth Hayes
Chair: Linda Close
Chair: Matthew Benda
Chair: Katherine Bloomquist
Chair: Thomas Sheran
Chair: Katherine McBride
ART & ENTERTAINMENT
Chair: Patricia Zurlo
Chair: William Wassweiler
Chair: Phillip Kunkel
CHILDREN & THE LAW
Chair: Sherri Hawley
Chair: Kari Wangensteen
CORPORATE COUNSEL ASSOCIATION
Chair: Sandra Ulsaker Wiese
Chair: Rebecca Rhoda Fisher
Chair: Douglas Debner
Chair: Douglas Heffernan
ENVIRONMENT & NATURAL RESOURCES
Chair: Thaddeus Lightfoot
Chair: Ellen Abbott
FOOD & DRUG LAW
Chair: Brent Eilefson
Chair: Karl Friedrichs
Chair: Susan Kratz
Chair: Hassan Saffouri
INTERNATIONAL BUSINESS LAW
Chair: Charles Barry
LABOR & EMPLOYMENT LAW
Chair: Laurie Vasichek
Chair: S. Jamal Faleel
Chair: Mr. Michael J. Ford
PRACTICE MANAGEMENT & MARKETING
Chair: Roy Ginsburg
PROBATE & TRUST LAW
Chair: Bradley Hanson
Co-Chair: Diane Alshouse
Co-Chair: Louis Thayer
Chair: Jeanne Cochran
REAL PROPERTY LAW
Chair: Gordon Jensen
Chair: Yuri Berndt