A great day to be a new lawyer



At the end of October, I had the honor of offering a few remarks to the newest members of our profession when I spoke at the new lawyer admission ceremonies. The ceremonies were held (in person, mostly) in the House of Representatives chamber at the Minnesota State Capitol. The setting was magnificent yet intimate. There were ear-to-ear smiles, and also tears—which seemed born equally from a feeling of uncontainable joy and the weight of having “made it” being lifted from many shoulders. There were trembling voices in moving for the admission to the bar of loved ones, and the confident pose of those swearing an oath they had worked hard to earn the privilege to take. There were babies and grandparents; siblings and friends; parents clutching their children’s hands—and sometimes their entire bodies—tightly. There were pictures and videos and handshakes and hugs. I ended the day feeling like my cup had been filled, and it wasn’t even my day!

As Abraham Lincoln watched over each ceremony from his grand painting at the front of the House chamber, Chief Justice Gildea reminded everyone of his words: “As a peacemaker the lawyer has a superior opportunity of being a good [person].” Each new lawyer also swore an oath to do good, promising to conduct themselves with “all good fidelity.” The entire day was a reminder about that which is at the heart of our profession—goodness and doing good. At its core, this is what the MSBA is about, too.

The mission of the MSBA is to promote the highest standards of excellence and inclusion within the legal profession, provide valued resources to MSBA members, and strive to improve the law and the equal administration of justice for all. In short, the MSBA’s mission is to work for the good of the profession, the good of its members, and the good of the justice system.

As lawyers, we have a unique opportunity to work for that good. We earn a little more respect and hold a special place in the community by virtue of the profession we chose. We must honor that respect by practicing law in a manner that serves the public good. We cannot be so gripped by the power and opportunity that our profession affords us that we lose sight of the great privilege and responsibility that comes with it. Our state needs the legal profession to be part of its heart and its conscience and to work for the greater good.

The MSBA, with its members’ support and engagement, will continue to work for good on matters of critical importance, including access to justice, the equal administration of the law, and diversity, equity, and inclusion. When MSBA members are engaged and active on these issues, the bar association can shape the profession and our larger community for the better. My hope for the new lawyers admitted to the profession in October, and for all lawyers in Minnesota, is that they will remain as dedicated to the principle of doing good as they were on the day they swore their oath to it, and that they will join with the other members of the MSBA to engage in this work together. 

JENNIFER THOMPSON is a founding partner of the Edina construction law firm Thompson Tarasek Lee-O’Halloran PLLC. She has also served on the Minnesota Lawyer Mutual Insurance Company board of directors since 2019.