MSBA in Action

Court amends MRPC

MSBA member Fred Finch writes: On May 13, 2022, the Minnesota Supreme Court amended the lawyer advertising and communication rules of the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct (MRPC). The Minnesota Rules are based on the American Bar Association’s Model Rules of Professional Conduct for Lawyers. In August 2018, the ABA adopted changes to Rules 7.1 through 7.5. The MSBA Professional Regulation Committee and the Lawyers Board each decided to petition the Court to adopt the ABA amendments.

In July 2021, the MSBA and the Lawyers Board (joined by the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility) each filed petitions with the Court asking it to adopt amendments to Rules 7.1 to 7.5, MRPC. The two petitions differed only in that the MSBA petition proposed imposing limits on when lawyers can advertise as specialists, while the Lawyers Board petition imposed no such requirements.

After a hearing in January 2022, the Court issued amended rules on May 13. The Court adopted all the proposed amendments except the rules on advertising specialization. The Court rejected the parties’ proposed rules and drafted its own rule 7.2(c), which permits lawyers to advertise that they are specialists in a field of law but requires uncertified lawyers to clearly state that they are not certified as a specialist by an organization accredited by the Minnesota Board of Legal Certification.

The Court rejected both sets of proposed comments and asked the parties to jointly submit new proposed comments by June 17. Because the Lawyer Board does not meet before June 17, it cannot approve a joint petition. Therefore, the parties have asked the Court to delay the deadline for requested comments for 60 days. Unless the Court delays the effective date, the amended rules 7.1 through 7.3 will take effect on September 1, 2022, without comments. 


Attention, North Star Lawyers 

We’re over halfway through the year and it’s time for an intentional pro bono practice check-in. How are your hours? How have you affected your community? The court system? Being a volunteer attorney isn’t only about helping that one client. Pro bono is also about the impact of our collective action for the public good. It helps shine a spotlight on inequities, provides a chance for good case law to be made, makes our court system run more efficiently, and helps build trust in our legal system. The individual case or clinic may have a great outcome, or it may just feel like a lot of work. It still has value and contributes to increased access to justice.

We were thrilled to announce and recognize our 2021 North Star Lawyers in last month’s Bench & Bar. Minnesota is fortunate to have a strong pro bono community that is dedicated to ensuring low-income clients get a fair chance at justice. If you are behind in your hours or want to join this collective effort, reach out to your favorite legal aid agency, visit www.projusticemn.org to find an opportunity, or reach out to us at the MSBA by contacting Access to Justice Director Katy Drahos (kdrahos@mnbars.org). 

2022 Bernard P. Becker Awards Announced

The Bernard P. Becker Awards are given every year to legal services staff and a law student who provide outstanding leadership or service to clients from low-income and marginalized communities. This year’s winners were chosen from an impressive set of nominees and exemplify what it means to be dedicated to access to justice. Congratulations to all the winners!

2022 Becker Award Recipients

Charles Thomas

Legacy of Excellence
Charles Thomas 
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services

Emerging Leader
Robyn Meyer-Thompson
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Robyn Meyer-Thompson


Luci Russell

Luci Russell 
Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid

Law Student
Zoe Vasiliki Psiakis
University of Minnesota Law School