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Friday, January 4, 2008

Lavender Bar to hold regional conference

The Minnesota Lavender Bar Association is holding its Regional Lavender Law conference on Jan. 26 at William Mitchell College of Law.

The all-day conference has been held annually since the early 1990s, and has grown substantially over the years. It’s hoped that this year’s conference will draw between 75 and 100 attendees.

In 2004, the National Lavender Law conference was held in Minneapolis. MLBA board member Phil Duran said that since that time, the MLBA has endeavored to include a national speaker at each regional conference. This year that is Amber Hollibaugh, senior strategist of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, who will give the opening plenary on “GLBT Aging and Public Policy.”

Other topics to be examined at the conference include advocating for transgender clients, marketing your practice to the GLBT community, medical disability planning and asset protection of same-sex couples, and community reactions to the Larry Craig “debacle.”

“The complexity of the program has grown,” said Duran. “We’re excited. We’ve got a record number of sponsors this year.”

The impressive list of sponsors includes the Minnesota AIDS Project, Thomson West, the National Lesbian and Gay Law Association, OutFront Minnesota, William Mitchell College of Law and the law firms of Lindquist & Vennum, Faegre & Benson, Dorsey & Whitney and Maslon Edelman Borman & Brand.

MLBA members, as well as others interested in GLBT issues, are invited to attend. For more information on the event, go to www.mnlavbar.com.

Access-to-clients issue

The newly revamped Minnesota Lawyer website has an interesting article on it about what restrictions can imposed on meetings between inmates and their lawyers. A local attorney has been in a tussle with Scott County officials over jailhouse access to her client. Scott County has been apparently requiring 24 hour notice be given for such meetings.

Thursday, January 3, 2008

AP: Magill to serve as interim U.S. attorney in Minnesota

The Associated Press is reporting that First Assistant U.S. Attorney Frank Magill has been chosen to serve as interim U.S. attorney for Minnesota. Rachel Paulose announced her resignation from from the U.S. attorney's post last November to take a job with main Justice in Washington, D.C.

Magill strikes me as particularly good choice. He is experienced, respected and somehow managed to stay above the fray during all the upheaval in the office.

Wisconsin bracing for another Supreme Court showdown

Should you tire of the Iowa caucus-fest, here's some regional news with a bit more relevance.

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice Louis B. Butler Jr. will face a challenger this spring in what is expected to be another expensive slugfest, similar to last year's contest that saw Annette Ziegler defeat Linda Clifford.

That race spurred close to $2 million in campaign contributions — the most for a supreme court seat in state history.

At stake once again is the ideological balance of the court, the Associated Press reports.

Butler is generally viewed as one of the three liberal members of the court. His opponent, Circuit Court Judge Michael J. Gableman, was appointed by Republican Gov. Scott McCallum and is positioning himself as a conservative alternative.

Wednesday, January 2, 2008

A new look for the new year

Minnesota Lawyer today unveiled its newly revamped website. It's got a much fresher, cleaner look. I suspect there will be some initial glitches, but it will ultimately be much more user-friendly for visitors. Let us know what you think. You can reach me by e-mail at mark.cohen@minnlawyer.com.

Speaking of Top Ten lists...

With the new year still very new, it’s a good time to consider which legal issues will be most discussed in the media during 2008.

Legal marketing firm Legal Expert Connections has come up with a list of which practice areas will be most sought after for comment and expertise by mainstream print and broadcast outlets during the coming year.

They are:
1. Real estate
2. Government
3. Intellectual property
4. International law
5. Privacy/data security
6. Immigration
7. Trusts/estates
8. Environment
9. Employment
10. Health care

Not too many surprises on that list, but to name one, I wouldn’t be shocked to see legal issues surrounding trusts and estates to get more and more attention as the next few years pass.

With Baby Boomers reaching retirement age in droves, a lot of people will need solid legal advice about not just retirement planning, but also how to handle their estates best distribute assets to their heirs. Those are legal issues that affect everyone once they reach a certain age, and they’ll continue to garner media attention long after the mortgage mess becomes yesterday’s news.

Monday, December 31, 2007

Happy New Year!

The Minnesota Lawyer blog staff would like to thank each and every one of our readers for visting us in 2007. We wish you all a happy and safe New Year!

Sunday, December 30, 2007

The top 10 Minnesota legal news stories of 2007

Although completely unscientific, here are my picks for the "Top 10" Minnesota legal news stories of 2007. Even a cursory glance demonstrates that it has been a very interesting year for legal news here in the Gopher State. We at Minnesota Lawyer have enjoyed keeping you up-to-date with our newspaper, blog and website – and look forward to bringing you even more valuable information in 2008. In the meantime, have a happy and safe New Year.
1. The legal wrangling around the 35W bridge collapse, including efforts to get access to the site, start a victims’ compensation fund and represent victims pro bono;

2. Filling judicial seats, including the appointment of a new Minnesota Supreme Court justice (Christopher Dietzen) and the addition of a badly needed new three-judge panel for the state’s overworked Court of Appeals;

3. A Hennepin County jury awards $130 million to local dentists in their lawsuit against a Massachusetts company that administered the business side of their practices;

4. The once-venerable Minneapolis law firm of Rider Bennett closes its doors forever and subsequently declares bankruptcy;

5. The U.S. Supreme Court decides to hear the appeal of the multi-billion-dollar verdict in the Exxon Valdez oil spill case, much to the chagrin of the Minneapolis firm of Faegre & Benson, which has been representing plaintiffs in the case for nearly a generation now;

6. The debate about judicial-election reform, from the Quie Commission issuing its much-anticipated report to the split in the legal community that still exists about how to proceed;

7. The Minnesota Supreme Court recognizes a cause of action for negligent credentialing against hospitals that grant doctors operating-room privileges;

8. Technology and the law: from the courts' introduction of online trial records to the establishment of new legal blogs and other Web-based legal information sources (including the Minnesota Lawyer blog and other new online journalistic ventures);

9.* The controversy at the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office, including the employees' unionization attempt and the decision of Mike Hatch to resign his deputy’s post and find a job in private practice;

9.* The controversy at the local U.S. Attorney’s Office, culminating with the decision of Rachel Paulose to resign her post and take a job at main Justice in Washington, D.C.

*Denotes a tie