Public Law Section


The Public Law Section is all about Community, using the individual strengths of many to maintain a strong community for all.

  • We are a community of lawyers working in Local, State and Federal government, education, the Bench and various private law firms and businesses. 
  • We work together to provide services and programs relating to the unique needs of public and private attorneys involved with public law issues.
  • We sponsor numerous CLE programs each year addressing issues unique to lawyers working in public law, such as data practices, ethics, government immunities, constitutional law, legislative updates, and elimination of bias.  We welcome and include Law Student Section members. 
The Public Law Section is now accepting nominations for the 2020 Public Law Section Attorney Awards. Through these awards the PLS celebrates our commitment to public service and the public practice of law. Nominees do not need to be members of the MSBA to be eligible. For more information, and to nominate an attorney or judge, click here.

Section Benefits and Activities

Join the Public Law Section and as a PLS member you will:

  • Enhance your professional effectiveness, improve the justice system and contribute to the profession and the community. 
  • Receive in-depth information on issues affecting lawyers working in the public sector through:
    1. Newsletters
    2. Committee meetings
    3. Targeted, timely and very affordable CLEs and legislative updates;
  • Attend almost monthly CLEs for just $10 per credit
  • Build a powerful network of contacts in public and private sectors;
  • Have a voice in decision-making through special local and statewide committees, Supreme Court Boards, commissions and task forces.

Join the Public Law Section member community discussion.


Diversity Mission Statement

The MSBA’s Public Law Section (PLS) embraces the principles of diversity and inclusion.  PLS Bylaws require the Section take an active role in broadening representation with respect to geographical, race/ethnicity, physical and mental disability, sexual orientation, gender, and type of public employment (state, county, municipal, federal, part time, full time, legal services) , and to encourage participation and reduce barriers to participation of all public lawyers in Section activities.  
The PLS therefore has a steadfast commitment to: 
  • Seeking the active participation of diverse speakers and authors in Section programs and publications

  • Providing mentorship opportunities and increase Section membership of law students and newly admitted lawyers, with focus on under-represented minorities
  • Collaborating with others in the MSBA and greater legal community to build diversity awareness and create welcoming environments to achieve Section goals
 Click here for a directory of the MSBA Affinity Bar Organizations and Leadership 

Public Law Legislative & Judicial Matters Policy

The membership of the Public Law Section is a unique combination of attorneys representing or holding office in executive branch agencies at the state, county, or local level, as well as public defenders and members of the judicial branch.  Because of their direct employment by these other co-equal branches of government, there is a high potential that any legislative position taken by the Public Law Section could create a conflict of interest, or the appearance of a conflict, for its members.

It is therefore the policy of the Public Law Section to abstain from taking a formal position on any legislative proposal.  For the same reasons, the Public Law Section will not take a position in any open matter before a state or federal court, including any state or federal administrative hearing.  This includes advocating for or filing amicus curiae briefs.

Read the full policy here

Model Pro Bono Policy

At the end of 2018 the Public Law Section revised their model pro bono policy with the help from the MSBA Access to Justice Committee. Patricia Beety, former Chair of the PLS Section Council, lead this initiative. The first policy was adopted in 2007 and has since been updated. The new 2018 version was approved by the MSBA Assembly during the December 2018 meeting. A link to the most recent model policy is here

Public Service Projects

The first Wednesday of every even month, Public Law Section Members are invited to volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House. On February 5th 2020, this group of PLS members prepared and served a meal at the Ronald McDonald House.


Public Law Section Highlights

2019 Rosalie E. Wahl Judicial Award of Excellence

The 2019 Rosalie E. Wahl Judicial Award of Excellence was awarded to 
Hon. Tammi Fredrickson and was 
Presented by Nancy Norman Sommer. 

 on Behalf of Hon. Tammi Fredrikson 2

Highlights from the 2019 Annual Meeting and Luncheon

Chela Guzman-Weigert 2
The William E. McGee Public Defender Award of Excellence  
was awarded to Chela Guzman-Wiegert and was  
 presented by Jeanette Boerner  


Kim Mesun 2

  The P. Kenneth Kohnstamm Pro Bono Attorney Award
  of Excellence was awarded to Kim Buechel Mesun 
  and was presented by Justin Kwong 


The Douglas K. Amdahl Public Attorney Career
Achievement Awards were awarded to:

Jeanette Behr 2

  Jeanette Behr
  Presented by Edward Cadman

Peter McCall 2

Peter J. McCall  
Presented by Eric Larson  


Howard Orenstein 2

  Howard Orenstein 
  Presented by Ben Schweigert

Inta M. Sellars 2

Inta M. Sellars  
Presented by Lisa Godon  

Sandra Torgerson 2

  Sandra Torgerson 
  Presented by James Backstrom


Kim Mesun

The P. Kenneth Kohnstamm Pro Bono Attorney Award 
of Excellence was awarded to Kim Buechel Mesun 
and was presented by Justin Kwong 


Kim Mesun

The P. Kenneth Kohnstamm Pro Bono Attorney Award 
of Excellence was awarded to Kim Buechel Mesun 
and was presented by Justin Kwong 

Become part of the PLS Community today.  JOIN PLS TODAY!