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Winter 2015, Volume XVIII, No. 2

Note from the Editors

By Joe Bourne, Jeff Mulder, Blair Harrington, and Kyle Willems

Welcome to the Fall 2015 edition of Hearsay, a quarterly newsletter dedicated to publishing the work of Minnesota’s new lawyers.  We are pleased to be able to bring you articles on several interesting topics and recent developments in the law.  If you are interested in submitting to a future edition of Hearsay, please contact Joe Bourne, Jeff Mulder, Blair Harrington, or Kyle Willems.

What I Wish I had Learned in Law School: Everybody is in Sales

By: Philip J. Ruce 

I vividly remember sitting in a law school classroom for the first time in the summer of 2005. It was an early orientation for new students — spouses and significant others were invited, so it was a full house. I remember the nervousness and excitement of a new beginning, the guilt of knowing I’d be living selfishly for the next three years in casebook-induced seclusion, and the self-satisfaction of knowing I’d made it and earned my way into this chair. But what I remember the most were the overwhelming feelings of relief that I had finally moved on to the next step of what had so-far been an unrewarding career for the now-defunct investment arm of a mid-size regional bank.

Finally! No more sales meetings, no more weekly, monthly, and annual goals. No more pressure to hit a certain profit margin and no more of that Sisyphean lifestyle of starting over once those goals had been reached, again and again, forever. I was going to be a lawyer now; one day soon, clients would filter their way through whatever mythical firm housed my desk. I’d be on track for the important and rewarding career I had been searching for since graduating with my undergraduate degree six years before.

If you are a fan of The Big Bang Theory, you might recall this exchange between Sheldon Cooper and Stuart Bloom while discussing which Robin character should be the logical successor to Batman:

Stuart: Oh, Sheldon, I’m afraid you couldn’t be more wrong.

Sheldon: More wrong? Wrong is an absolute state and not subject to gradation.

Stuart: Of course it is. It’s a little wrong to say a tomato is a vegetable, it’s very wrong to say it’s a suspension bridge. Read more...

 Potential Action Items for Revocable Trusts in the Minnesota Trust Code

Robert E. Lynn

Bartley & Lynn, LLP

Saint Paul, Minnesota

If one of your clients who has a revocable trust asks, "Is there anything in the new Minnesota Trust Code that I should look at?" you may need to make a date for coffee, at least. While the short answer is yes, more questions will probably be raised once you begin picking through the detail. A meaningful answer won't fit into an elevator ride, even if you're going to the top of the IDS Tower.

Your client hopefully remembers two key features of a revocable trust. First, during the settlor's life, while competent and (as is usually the case) serving as trustee, he or she retains complete control of the trust property. Upon the settlor's incapacity, the management of that property is assumed by a successor trustee nominated in the governing instrument. This avoids any public court process (appointment of a conservator) or any significant delay. Second, upon the death of the settlor, the trust's provisions similarly control disposition of the property. So here as well, any public court process (probate) is avoided. The new Code affects each of these features. Here are four issues to start a discussion.

Is your successor a bank or some other professional trustee? If so, is that your first choice for all aspects of managing the trust when you're out of the picture?

Beginning in 2016, the trustee's responsibilities can be divided, so that particular decisions can be made by the persons whom the settlor would ideally choose. Specialized limited-scope fiduciaries called "directing parties" can take over critical trust functions if the settlor is incapacitated or when the settlor dies. Read more...

The New Lawyer's Guide to the New Rules

Ashleigh Leitch

Best & Flanagan, LLP

In April 2015, the Minnesota Supreme Court officially adopted amendments to the Minnesota Rules of Civil Procedure and Minnesota General Rules of Practice. These amendments became effective on July 1, 2015. To get you caught up to speed, here are ten rule changes every civil litigator needs to know:

  1. Mandatory e-Filing

    As part of the court system’s move towards its goal of mandatory statewide e-filing by 2016, electronic filing through the Electronic Filing System (“eFS”) is now mandatory in the following counties: Cass, Clay, Cook, Dakota, Faribault, Hennepin, Kandiyohi, Lake, Morrison, Ramsey, and Washington. See Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 14.01(b). Rule 14 applies to all attorneys, government agencies, and guardians ad litem. If an attorney wants to continue filing on paper, he or she must first file a motion with the Chief Judge of the District Court showing good cause for the paper filings. See Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 14.01 (b)(3). However, such motions should be rare and will be granted infrequently. Fax filing is still allowed in counties where e-filing is not yet mandatory. Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 14.01(b)(1); 14.03(c).

    There are four main exceptions to mandatory e-filing: (1) wills deposited for safe-keeping under Minn. Stat. § 524.2-515; (2) documents in parental notification bypass proceedings under Minn. Stat. § 144.343; (3) documents ordered to be filed conventionally by the presiding judge; and (4) if directed by the presiding judge, documents submitted for in camera review may be filed by e-mail to chambers. Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 14.01(b)(2)(i-ii); 14.01(b)(3); 14.06.

  2. Mandatory E-Service

    If you practice in one of the counties with mandatory e-filing, you must also use eFS to electronically serve recipients registered on eFS. Minn. R. Gen. Prac. 14.03(d). Conveniently, the record of service in eFS constitutes proof of service, therefore you do not need to file separate proof of service for registered parties. If you are serving some parties through eFS but others (such as pro se parties not registered on eFS) through conventional means, you must file an affidavit of service for each party served conventionally. Minn. Gen. R. Prac. 14.03(d). Read more...


Welcome to the Lion’s Den: Tips for Working Effectively with Office Staff, Paralegals, Partners and Court Personnel

By:  Sarah Yacoub 

      Coming out of law school, I had the luxury of assimilating easily into my first job as an attorney at the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office. I had already received great mentorship the year prior as a volunteer. I was just shy of my twenty-fifth birthday, starting my career as a criminal prosecutor for one of the biggest offices in the country, if not the world. The Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office is comprised of roughly one thousand deputy district attorneys who prosecute misdemeanor and felony offenses throughout Los Angeles County. Special Units include Hardcore Gangs, Sex Crimes, Family Violence and the Public Integrity Division. Even with what felt like a treasure trove of advice and countless opportunities to watch and learn from those whom I admired most, I still faced challenges. I will never forget my first couple of weeks handling a trial calendar with anywhere from twenty-five to fifty cases scheduled to be heard. Daunting is a bit of an understatement. At first, it felt like I needed to know everything about every file. I eventually learned that it was sufficient to read through the file, be generally familiar with the facts of the case, the criminal history of the defendant and have an offer for the resolution of the case. Sure, additional issues might arise for which a deeper understanding of one or more areas of the file would become warranted, but those issues would be noticed and set for another day. Beginning one’s path in the legal profession is a steep learning curve and what one might call a character building experience.

     This article is a compilation of tips that I would like to share with new lawyers about working effectively with office staff, paralegals, partners, and court personnel. It is broken up into subsections based upon professional categories given the logistical differences in their jobs. Read more...

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