President's Page: Leaving Things Better

Parents want to teach their kids many things. Here are the lessons my parents successfully taught me: how to read, how to work hard, and how to swim, among many other things. Here are the lessons I didn’t learn so well: growing anything. Here are the lessons I may have learned too well: how to talk and talk and talk.

Every one of us learns some lessons early in life that become a core part of who we are. Those lessons become things that we want to pass down to those that come after us, whether it’s our children, students, young associates, or anyone who will listen.

One of the core teachings my parents instilled in me is that we should always try to leave things better than we found them. This applies to all situations, whether at home, in the community, or in the law. We should work to make every project, client, committee, board, case, and day better because we were involved.

Don’t get me wrong, it’s far easier to say it than do it. We won’t always succeed, but it’s important we continue to try.

One of the things that I love about the HCBA is how we give back to try to make the community better.

We also come at this from a different angle than many members of our community. As members of the legal community, we have knowledge and resources that are not available to most people. That comes with an obligation to use our knowledge and resources to help improve the community in ways that others can’t. One of the things that I love about the HCBA is how we give back to try to make the community better. Every one of us should feel proud of the work that our bar association accomplishes.

Financially, through the Hennepin County Bar Foundation (HCBF), we work to fulfill the mission of promoting access to justice for the people of Hennepin County by giving over $200,000 each year to local nonprofits focused on helping those in need of legal service. These grants help programs like the Conflict Resolution Center and the Legal Rights Center continue their good work.

Our Lawyer Referral and Information Service (LRIS) acts as a quality referral service to help members and clients find each other, and we also offer a low-fee program across many practice areas, including unbundled services. It’s not always the most glamorous work, but it makes a difference. This service has continued to expand over the years—and now, after joining with Ramsey County Bar Association, we have increased to over 10,000 calls each year to assist residents who have law-related questions.

The Misdemeanor Defense Panel gets criminal defense attorneys to the courtrooms to help people who don’t qualify for public defenders but also don’t have an attorney. Our Legal Access Point clinic provides one-on-one assistance regarding all manner of legal issues. And for decades both the Association and Foundation have worked with the Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) to provide legal services to those in need. This service ensures that everyone who has questions about the legal process has someone to talk to.

Outside of direct services to clients, the HCBA also hosts a number of wonderful programs to help our members connect and grow. I’ve had great experiences being a mentor as well as a mentee in both official and unofficial programs in our bar association. Through our 1L Diversity Clerkship, we help place first-year law students from marginalized/underrepresented backgrounds with Minnesota legal employers for a summer associate experience.

For all these reasons and many more, I want to say thank you for being a part of an organization that is committed to making things better than we found them.

Headshot of man in suitLandon Ascheman

Landon Ascheman is the president of the Hennepin County Bar Association. He is a solo practitioner with Ascheman Law focusing primarily on criminal law. 

Managing Editor
Elsa Cournoyer

Executive Editor

Joseph Satter