President's Page: Thank You for a Wonderful Year

As I prepare to welcome Nicole Kettwick for her term as 2023-24 HCBA president, I want to reflect and thank you all for a wonderful bar year. We have accomplished so much and had the opportunity to connect and grow. With my final article, I want to do a little reflecting and express some much deserved “thank-yous.”

First, and foremost, thank you to you, our members. Our organization is stronger for every member that belongs. And doubly so for every member that raises their hand to take on the role of presenting a CLE, planning a networking event, joining a section council, taking on a leadership role, or simply participating when they have the capacity to do so. Thank you for supporting our organization and our mission.

As our mission states, the HCBA is a welcoming community of lawyers who advocate for the profession, foster access to justice, and provide members with support at every stage of their careers. When it comes to our policies and public services, we look to our wonderful team of staff members, led by our senior director of policy, Nancy Mischel. Thank you, Nancy and to your wonderful team for all your work improving the legal community and increasing access to justice.

I, of course, also want to thank those members who raise their hands to help lead this organization and keep us focused on accomplishing our mission. 

I, of course, also want to thank those members who raise their hands to help lead this organization and keep us focused on accomplishing our mission. Those members who served as Board members this year have reviewed bylaws changes, monitored the finances, planned for future years, and even taken the time to volunteer at Second Harvest as one of our first in-person events. Keeping our leadership on task with the finance and planning, as well as numerous budget and administrative issues is Paula Schulze and her team. Thank you, Paula for always having answers for us when we need them.

This year we joined our HCBA sections with the MSBA and RCBA sections. There was a lot of nervous optimism from both members and staff. I’m glad to say that overall, the combining of sections was a magnificent success. The 40 sections put on over 240 programs. In addition, the ILLP (Institute for Leadership in the Legal Profession) welcomed its newest cohort this year through a multi-session CLE training series. The HCBA's free Signature Programs provided members with 17 CLEs and events to choose from during the 2022-2023 bar year. And over 20 additional seminars were held, jointly sponsored with the MSBA, RCBA, and other partners. Thank you to everyone that volunteered to take up a leadership position in our sections. I hope we will continue to bring in new leaders and share that experience. A special thank you to our director of section services, Kara Haro, and her team for the amazing work they have completed this year with all the sections.

As the HCBA president, I have also had the privilege to serve on the Hennepin County Bar Foundation Board. Their annual events bring members together and raise needed funds, which are used for grants to legal services agencies. The fall Golf Classic had over 100 participants and raised close to $18,000. The Bar Benefit gala in May had 200 attendees and raised over $90,000 from individual and law firm donations. The HCBF awarded $220,000 worth of grants to 29 organizations this year, and the foundation provided $6,000 to 14 law students as part of our diversity scholarship funding, which focuses on supporting students of underrepresented demographics who have a passion for and focus on increasing access to justice. A special thank you to our director of equity, inclusion, and foundations, Erikka Ryan, for her significant work advancing the diversity of our organization, increasing our perspectives and understanding, and helping the HCBF in its efforts to increase access to justice in our community. Erikka is also one of several staff members that work to keep us connected to the many affinity bars, which strengthens our legal community.

In addition to the Bar Benefit, nearly 200 members attended the Judges Social event, including 40 members of Hennepin County Bench. We also honored 64 members of the bar at the 2023 Bar Memorial in May, attended by 240 family members and colleagues of those who passed away last year. This special session of District Court was also live-streamed and watched by hundreds more members and families. These events were coordinated and implemented by our events and partnerships director, Sabrina Sands. Thank you, Sabrina for the wonderful events this year.

For years, the HCBA has been the leader in Minnesota in connecting our community to those that can provide legal services.

For years, the HCBA has been the leader in Minnesota in connecting our community to those that can provide legal services. Whether it’s through the Misdemeanor Defense Program, Lawyer Referral and Information Services, or our Reduced Fee Program. The Minnesota Lawyer Referral & Information Service (a joint program with the RCBA) received over 23,000 calls in 2022 from individuals seeking legal assistance or interested in hiring an attorney. Callers to MNLRIS were guided by our staff referral counselors to the most appropriate service available to meet their legal needs (i.e. private attorneys, government agencies, and other legal service partners). Over 3,000 individuals were referred to MNLRIS panel attorneys. Thank you to our director of legal services, Dana Miner, and her absolutely amazing and dedicated staff for directly connecting those in need with attorneys. This program has since expanded and merged with the RCBA program, and continuous to grow and improve every year.

Outside of these amazing teams, we have several other groups that don’t often get the spotlight they deserve for their great work keeping things going in the background. Our senior director of legal practice technology, Jennifer Carter, and her team, for keeping our association and members connected and aware of all the new methods of getting things done. Despite being the senior director of communications, Joseph Satter mostly works in the background, making sure that the messages of our organization, committees, and members get shared with the community. A special thank you to Nick Hansen from the communications team for helping with these president’s messages (the high quality parts are written by him).

I want to thank CEO Cheryl Dalby and her executive assistant, Andrew Olson for making my time and work with our bar association a truly wonderful experience. Cheryl has always been available and ready to address any issue, but is most often seen keeping our members informed at board and committee meetings, and chatting with all of our members at the numerous social events we hold. Andrew keeps everything moving smoothly in the background, and keeping track of everything that is going on. Thank you both, and the other bar staff for all they do

Finally, I want to thank the rest of my friends and family. My wife, Mara, (without whom none of this would have been possible) is always ready to tough it out for one more social event, or hang out with the kids for just one more zoom meeting. Thank you to our parents, who have been willing to keep the kids entertained for a night, or even a weekend, so we could keep on top of everything. And thank you to all of my friends for constantly being supportive sounding boards and mentors.

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

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