President's Page: Connecting Through This Year's Bar Accomplishments

By Mónica Dooner Lindgren

It has been a privilege to serve as President of the Ramsey County Bar Association during the 2021-2022 bar year! As RCBA’s first Latina President, this truly has been an opportunity that I will treasure.  I look forward to witnessing many more diverse leaders moving the RCBA forward for years to come!  

Since my first involvement with the RCBA, I’ve had the utmost respect for this Association and its mission. The RCBA has a deep history of creating a platform for its members to excel in the legal profession and to work towards equal justice. A section of its mission that speaks most to me is, “Working to improve the quality and accessibility to justice.”  I am amazed at what has been accomplished during this bar year, much of which focuses on the above mission goal.

During these unprecedented years of navigating how to remain connected, the RCBA has again managed to provide high quality programming and opportunities to assist us all in providing effective legal representation, interpreting the law, understanding critical changes in the law, as well as using our legal skills to generate real change in the lives of Ramsey County residents in our role as legal professionals. 

Since the RCBA merged staff teams with the Hennepin County Bar Association and the Minnesota State Bar Association, we have continued to partner with them in innovative and practical ways to elevate our mission.

  1. We have jointly responded to police shootings and other events impacting our community.
  2. We have streamlined our membership dues structure to make it less complicated for members to select a level that they most identify with. The new structure is also more relevant to the diversity of our membership.
  3. Many of the RCBA Sections will work jointly going forward with the HCBA and MSBA Sections, respectively, to provide forward-thinking programming in specific areas of the law that benefits our members’ professional development. 

These collaborations are just a few examples of our focus to provide stronger support to our members while maintaining our authenticity as the bar association we all value.

Throughout this year, the RCBA hosted a variety of CLEs focusing on topics in the law based on membership input and important legal concepts to enhance the practice of law. Topics such as Effective Probate Mediation, Race & Criminal Law in Ramsey County, Updates on Housing Evictions during the Pandemic, and Cultural Considerations in Handling Family Court Cases involving Domestic Violence have all assisted us to remain skilled judges, attorneys, and legal professionals. Many of the CLEs offered were also in partnership with the HCBA and the MSBA, allowing us to learn from a wide range of expert presenters and provide access to legal community members throughout the state with remote access attendance opportunities.

The RCBA successfully organized signature events such as the 2021 RCBF Golf Classic and the 2021 RCBF Bench and Bar Benefit. These two events in particular “work to improve the quality and accessibility to justice” by using the funds raised to award grants to 23 law-related charitable organizations that support Ramsey County residents. Additionally, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc. was awarded a significant portion of funds raised that will allow them to continue their pivotal work in providing free civil legal services to low-income individuals. New Lawyers Happy Hours and other section gatherings provided opportunities for meaningful networking during the year.   

In May, we celebrated the lives of judges and lawyers that have passed on. The 2022 RCBA Memorials highlighted the dedication and love that these individuals had for the legal profession, as well as proved to be an inspiration for us to continue “fighting the good fight” through their example.

The Barrister in its new digital format continuously kept us connected with the ability to access news and events. Whether publishing information of upcoming CLEs, meeting newly appointed Second Judicial District Judges or learning about diverse legal professionals in Minnesota’s history that have paved the way for us, the Barrister is our link to our local legal community.

Lastly, just a couple weeks ago, we gathered in-person for the first time in over two years as members for the 2022 Member Appreciation Day. We attended CLE sessions on two timely topics, “Pushing the DEI Reset Button: Implementing Strategies to Foster a More Diverse and Inclusive Legal Workplace” and a “Discussion on the Human Rights Department report on the Minneapolis Police Department.”  We also highlighted the impactful work of our members by awarding the Distinguished Humanitarian Service Award to Kathy Eveslage at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc. and the Liberty Bell Award to the Sahan Journal. I also had the honor to “pass the gavel” to RCBA’s incoming President, Kenya Bodden. Mr. Bodden’s kind and intuitive leadership will be an asset to us all during his presidency! The gathering of members of the judiciary, lawyers, and advocates reminded us of the importance of face-to-face conversations and our connection as an association.

This year’s accomplishments were possible because of the dedicated volunteers we are so fortunate to have leading our Sections and Committees, our Section and Committee members, the Tri-Bar staff, and additional member volunteers. Thank you all for your commitment to the Ramsey County Bar Association!

I would like to extend my deep gratitude to our CEO Cheryl Dalby for her leadership and her support of me. I have grown as a leader and professional by Ms. Dalby’s example. Further, I would like to acknowledge the commitment of the RCBA Executive Committee and Board of Directors. Each of you brought and continue to bring compassion, thoughtfulness and expertise in your leadership roles that have shaped the great bar association we have today. It has been an honor to serve alongside you. I look forward to continuing RCBA’s mission into the future in my role as Past President and beyond!

Monica Dooner Lindgren

Mónica Dooner Lindgren is an Immigration Law attorney in St. Paul, advocating for and representing Minnesota’s immigrant community for over 20 years.  Prior to shifting to Immigration Law, she specialized in Family Law matters, with a special emphasis in working with victims fleeing from domestic violence and crime victims.