Hennepin County Bar Association Honors 10 with 2023 Excellence Awards

MINNEAPOLIS— The Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) recognizes eight attorney members and two organizations with its 2023 HCBA Excellence Awards, honoring these members for their service to the local legal profession, the community, and the association. The HCBA selected the recipients from nominations received in different categories, including one member for career contributions to the profession. Awards will be presented at the HCBA Annual Meeting on June 8, and members will be recognized in the Hennepin Lawyer.  

Dee Baskin (Loan Repayment Assistance Program of Minnesota) for Improving Access to Justice. As the executive director of LRAP, Baskin has been a behind-the-scenes champion for legal aid attorneys seeking public service loan forgiveness. Baskin has helped Minnesota attorneys navigate each pause on student loan payments through articles, CLE presentations, and social media updates.  

Logan Drew (Robins Kaplan) for Providing Pro Bono Service: As chair of Robins Kaplan’s pro bono committee, Drew helped launch the Robins Kaplan Name Change Clinic in 2019. Under Drew’s leadership, the firm has hosted 15 clinics, helping 225 clients seeking a gender-affirming name change through 800 hours of pro bono legal aid.  

Caitlinrose Fisher & Virginia McCalmont (Forsgren Fisher McCalmont DeMarea Tysver) for Providing Pro Bono Service: Fisher and McCalmont maintain a robust pro bono practice of civil rights appeals and impact district court litigation. In 2022, they provided over 200 hours of pro bono services. The two obtained partial appellate reversals in two separate civil rights appeals. They also have two additional pending pro bono appeals in the Eighth Circuit.  

Mary Kaczorek – (Mid Minnesota Legal Aid) for Improving Access to Justice: Kaczorek has led the MMLA Housing Department through the challenges brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. She has advocated for remote hearings for the benefit of MMLA’s low-income and disabled clients. In addition to supervising attorneys and litigating her own cases in housing court, Kaczorek has also advocated for eviction reform at the Minnesota legislature. 

Amanda Kruse (Lathrop GPM) for Providing Pro Bono Service: Kruse has been a dedicated pro bono volunteer for Volunteer Lawyers Network. She fully represents low-income Minnesotans looking to expunge their state records, increasing their chances to find stable jobs and housing. She has also served as a mentor to other attorneys looking to do pro bono expungement work. 

The Legal Revolution & North Hennepin Community College’s Paralegal Program for Improving Access to Justice: The Legal Revolution, a nonprofit subsidiary of All Square, and North Hennepin Community College's Paralegal Program created the first ABA-approved paralegal certificate and law firm internship for incarcerated Minnesotans. The program provides high-quality paralegal education and experience to the students, who, upon release, will be equipped to secure competitive employment and help other Minnesotans affected by the justice system. 

James Poradek (Housing Justice Center) for Improving Access to Justice: Poradek has represented low-income individuals facing housing instability across the state. He has helped thousands of Minnesota avoid mass eviction from landlords and sought compensation for residents who were exposed to shoddy construction and unsafe housing conditions. Poradek is known for his compassion and patience when dealing with clients who are mistrustful of the justice system.  

The Honorable Denise Reilly (Minnesota Court of Appeals) for Career Contributions to the Profession: Reilly has been a champion of children in the justice system throughout her career. As a district court judge, she was a presiding judge of juvenile court and helped overhaul the juvenile protection system. She has continued her work with children as an active member of the Children’s Justice Initiative Advisory Committee.  

For more information contact Nick Hansen: nhansen@mnbars.org 

The Hennepin County Bar Association is the largest of Minnesota’s local bar associations, with a membership of over 8,000 attorneys and law students, serving the profession and the public.