Bench + Bar of Minnesota

‘Tis the season of giving

By Paul D. Peterson 

As I write we are on the eve of the holiday season, and this will be reaching you before the end of 2022. I don’t know about you, but this is always an interesting time of year for me. It is a time when I try to focus more than usual on all I am grateful for in my life. It is the time for a solo/small firm business owner to go through the necessary steps to close out one business year and begin another. It’s also a time of year when I try to review the contributions I’ve been able to make toward charitable causes and see what more I can do before the end of the calendar year.

In the coming months I will be sharing with you more of my thoughts on leadership and how we in the MSBA have people throughout the organization who are leading every day. One thing I am grateful for as president is my opportunity to see the broad spectrum of work and giving by our members. I consider all our members to be leaders. I consider all our members ambassadors for our profession and for our organization. In the coming months we are going to speak frankly about our organization, its goals, its membership, and all of you, our leaders/ambassadors. Today, however, I want to focus on one aspect of giving that our state, county, and district bar associations and foundations do every year: giving based on monetary donations by our individual members. 

One of the leaders in my community growing up was my mother, Patte Peterson. It was an honor and inspiration to watch her undertake myriad volunteer activities. Her experience ran the gamut from chairing boards and foundations to volunteering for one-on-one counseling with teens and young adults in need. We are all familiar with fables and stories that demonstrate how a small contribution by an individual can have a remarkable impact on the person they help. I remember in particular the story of the child tossing starfish back into the sea after a storm had washed them ashore. When an observer commented that there was no way to save all the starfish, so why make the effort, the child responded wisely that her actions made all the difference in the world to every starfish she returned. My mentors in giving, including my mother, taught me by their actions how true this parable is.

As you know, our profession is now tracking the amount of giving lawyers and judges do every year both through pro bono legal activity and monetary contributions to organizations serving the legal needs of under-served populations. If everyone were to contribute just a little, the overall impact would be remarkable.

If you are reading this, I’m asking you to act. Take a few moments and give a small amount to one or more of these organizations we’ve identified. We have approximately 14,000 members. If each member contributed just $10-$25 before the end of the year, hundreds of thousands of dollars would be raised. If everyone gave $100, our contributions would be in the millions. If we can all commit to acting, right now, within that small range, it will be amazing what we can achieve. It will also be consistent with what I know is a great culture of giving on the part of our members, our leaders, our ambassadors. When we all report our contributions as a profession, we will have data on the positive contributions our members make every day, every year. Please take a moment, act, and let’s see what remarkable good we can achieve together. Let’s end 2022 with our whole organization making small but significant contributions. I wish you all a wonderful holiday season! 

Great ways to support legal aid (and how to get in touch)


For a more complete list of Minnesota legal aid organizations, you can also visit (case-sensitive). 

Paul Peterson represents families in personal injury and wrongful death cases. His office is in Woodbury and he is licensed in both Minnesota and Wisconsin. He is the proud papa of four above-average children and one outstanding dog.

Steve Perry
(612) 278-6333


Adverting Manager
Erica Nelson
(763) 497-1778


Classified Ads
Jackie Duvall-Smith
(612) 333-1183

Art Director
Jennifer Wallace
(612) 278-6311