Looking Back ...

Thank you for the opportunity to represent RCBA in our professional community throughout the bar year. 2020-2021 has been a year like no other. Shortly after RCBA Past President Sarah McEllistrem passed the gavel—virtually—to me, we learned of George Floyd’s tragic death; and now, more recently, we witnessed the death of Daunte Wright at the hands of law enforcement. As expressed in the joint MSBA, HCBA, RCBA and Federal Bar Association Minnesota Chapter Presidents’ statement: “The bar associations stand with our colleagues of color in grieving this latest senseless loss. … The bar associations strive to improve society by developing professional excellence among its diverse membership. One of the core components of its mission is to provide valued resources to its members.”

The Bar remains dedicated to addressing issues of diversity and inclusion in the profession and society.i In April, MSBA, HCBA, RCBA, Twin Cities Diversity in Practice and Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers sponsored “Listening & Support Sessions—Space for Lawyers Experiencing Distress in the Midst of Derek Chauvin Trial and Daunte Wright Killing.” The RCBA New Lawyers section also sponsored “Discriminatory Covenants and the Just Deeds Project—Acknowledging the History of Systemic Racism in Housing.” These presentations were excellent and I urge you to seek out similar resources. The MSBA homepageii and Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, www.MNLCL.org,iii  both have resource pages available on their websites. Looking ahead, please join me on Wednesday, May 19th for the RCBA Law Day CLE: Reconsidering Criminal Justice After the Death of George Floyd, co-hosted by the Ramsey County Law Library.

Many of us have had family and friends inquiring about news headlines and the Chauvin trial.iv While we may not be criminal law practitioners, we must help build trust and confidence in the rule of law. In her March President’s Page, current MSBA President Dyan Ebert reminds us to “commit to educating the people in your circles about the rule of law. Together, let’s rebuild trust and confidence in this ideal we hold so dear…”v Ms. Ebert asks us to make this commitment because “the most important professional obligation we have is to defend the rule of law.vi As Ms. Ebert thoughtfully explains, the obligation to defend the rule of law is embedded in our Rules of Professional Conduct (Minn. R. Prof. Conduct, Preamble ¶6). Moreover, a peaceful society depends on the rule of law, and as attorneys, we have a special obligation to ensure that the rule of law does not fall by the wayside as people struggle with actions of the police.

Finally, as RCBA members, we have the knowledge and skills to give back to the profession and to our community through our involvement with the Bar Association. Thank you for giving me the opportunity to serve, (thanks to my supportive family!) and thanks to the staff, and the RCBA Board of Directors and Executive Committee. Thank you to RCBA volunteers, especially section and committee chairs, for their time and effort in making my term as president successful, even amidst a pandemic. Section co-chairs plan CLEs, recruit speakers, and host CLE sessions. Committee co-chairs spend countless hours to plan events and to make it easy for us to participate in those events as much as our schedules permit. Please consider increasing your involvement with a section or committee to support the RCBA.


Family Law: Adeola Adekunle, Amy Krupinski
Criminal Law: Kristin Hendrick
New Lawyers: Alexandra Haigler, Samantha Ivey, Racey Rodne, Charlie Shafer, Thomas Johnson
Real Estate: Royee Vlodaver, Mike Burke
Solo/Small Firm: Cassandra Suchomel, David Drach
Trusts & Estates: Patty Stotzheim, John Wehrly


Bench & Bar Benefit:vii Renee Fossen, Caryn Boisen, Kyle Dareff
Charity Golf Tournament: Martin Norder, James Erickson, Jr.
CLE Oversight: Leann Fuith, Carol Bros
Memorials: Betsy Keyes, Scott Borchert
Second District Ethics: Tim Simonson
Youth and the Law: Sarah Orange, Hon. Jessica Palmer-Denig

Thank you, again, for supporting RCBA as a member,

ivAt the time of this writing, closing arguments in the Chauvin trial are underway.
vEbert, Dyan, “Defending the Rule of Law”, Bench & Bar Minnesota, March 2021.
viiThe Bench and Bar Benefit Committee set a fundraising goal of $20,000, then raised (netted) $30,000 after pivoting to a virtual platform!