Bench + Bar of Minnesota

MSBA Assembly adopts new policy positions

At its April meeting, the MSBA Assembly—the state bar’s policy-making group—voted on several important issues affecting lawyers in Minnesota. Upon recommendation from the General Policy and Judiciary committees, the Assembly voted to join other bar associations across the country in urging the U.S. Supreme Court to adopt a binding code of judicial ethics for Supreme Court justices. The group also decided that going forward, the MSBA—including its sections and committees—will not endorse judicial candidates.

Much of the meeting was taken up by a robust discussion of changes to the Legal Paraprofessional Program proposed by the Standing Committee for the Legal Paraprofessional Pilot Project. The Assembly voted to support the standing committee’s recommendation to make the pilot project a permanent Judicial Branch program for those areas of law where legal paraprofessionals have been allowed to provide legal advice and representation during the period of the pilot program—namely family law and landlord-tenant disputes. The Assembly also voted to support the creation of a new permanent committee to administer the program. 

The Assembly also supported expansion of the program, albeit on a pilot basis, to some conciliation court, consumer debt, and student debt cases, but opposed the recommendation to expand the program to petty misdemeanors and proceedings through the Office of Administrative Hearings. The MSBA supports the recommendation that the new court committee study the issue of fee-sharing between attorneys and legal paraprofessionals. 

Comments were filed with the Court in late April, along with a request that the MSBA be given an opportunity to present at the public hearing the Court has scheduled for June 13, 2024. 

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