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During the course of this history project, the authors interviewed nearly forty Presidents and leaders of the Minnesota Chapter of the FBA and studied the organization’s historical documents.


During the course of this history project, the authors interviewed nearly forty Presidents and leaders of the Minnesota Chapter of the FBA and studied the organization’s historical documents. Two themes emerged from this research.

First, although Chapter Presidents serve for a one-year term, that term is preceded—and followed—by many years of service to the organization and its members. Presidents and other leaders of the Chapter dedicate countless hours to enhancing the practice of law and access to justice in our courts, providing meaningful and substantive opportunities to learn from and collaborate with others in the legal community, and continuing the strong tradition of service and collegiality that has been a hallmark of our Chapter since its inception. Nothing in our Chapter is static—members take on changing and new roles every year, create new ways to address the evolving needs and issues in our courts, and continue to strengthen the ties that bind the community of federal judges, officials, and practitioners that gather under the umbrella of our FBA Chapter. The Board meets twice a year, the executive committee several times there between, subcommittees gather routinely and individual members spend untold hours working to address the issues of the day. Debates are had, issues are addressed and collegiality and professionalism pervades. Unlike many organizations of its size, the work of the Minnesota Chapter of the FBA is done by volunteers who donate their time to the group on top of their “day jobs” as judges and lawyers. The volunteering base of our Chapter is hardly a footnote to the story of an organization that has grown to be 900 members strong.

The second theme that shines through our Chapter’s history is the deep commitment of the federal bench to the partnership with our Chapter. Many judges have served as President of the Chapter over the years. Their work is not limited to lending their names to the masthead. Their leadership has involved hard work on critical issues and projects that would not have happened without the support, guidance and involvement of the bench. Minnesota’s federal judges have served may other roles, as well, chairing and working on committees, providing thoughtful leadership and mentoring and generously volunteering their time to host, speak and lead our many Chapter activities. Their commitment is seemingly infinite, as they continue to actively serve on the board and provide steadfast support, even long after their “official” duties as President and committee chairs have passed. The same is true for the many lawyers who have spent decades leading and nurturing our FBA Chapter.

Ours is a story with a rich past and a keen vision for the future. It is the story of strong leaders, meaningful work, and a vibrant community. And it is a story that builds on our past as we continue to meet the challenges and opportunities that lie ahead.

1944 THROUGH THE MID-1980s

Where it All Began

The national FBA was organized in January 1920. Twenty years later, the roots of our present-day organization were planted when the “St. Paul-Minneapolis” Chapter of the FBA first became active in 1940. The first President noted in the records was Victor E. Anderson.

Very little is known or recorded from those early years. And given that the chapter was “re-activated” in the early 1960s we are led to believe that the early days of our chapter were marked with a small informal group.

Early Leaders and Founding Principles

Judge Miles Lord ushered in an new era of the Minnesota Chapter of the FBA when he became President of the Chapter in 1961, the same year President John F. Kennedy appointed him United States District Attorney for Minnesota. Many of today’s members have memories of Judge Lord’s enthusiasm and strong leadership, including cajoling his clerks and attorneys to join the new Chapter. “I think he twisted more than a few arms,” said James Simonson, who became a member in the early 1960s and has long been a member of our Chapter’s board. Chapter President, Keith Halleland (1995-96) clerked for Judge Lord and is among many who remember Judge Lord’s dedication to the “federal family” and the FBA.

Most members during those early years were government attorneys. However, no one, including the record keepers at the FBA national office, knows exactly when that requirement changed. Judge Ann Montgomery, who joined the FBA when she was an Assistant United States Attorney and served as President of the Chapter in 1985-86, recalls that government employees comprised the majority of the membership until at least the early 1980s. What we do know is that in 1985 the national FBA eliminated the distinction between “active” and “associate” membership, while maintaining the requirement that “a candidate for national office must be or has been employed in the service of the United States or District of Columbia, and who while so employed does or has performed the work of a legislator, judge, lawyer, or member of a quasi-judicial board or commission.”

If being a government attorney was a requirement at the national level, the Minnesota Chapter apparently ignored the rule, because many members and several early Presidents were private practitioners, including two who were interviewed for this project: Jay Kelly (1973-74) and John Halpern (1979-80).

Word spread about the FBA through the enthusiastic voices of its leaders and the relationships that were forged as members worked hard to do meaningful work for the federal bar. Kelly remembers that Thomas Steele, Jr. (the only Chapter President to serve two terms, 1962-63 and 1969-70) urged him to get active in the Chapter. He was also friends with and worked on Chapter projects with two future Presidents, John Murray (1975-76) and United States Bankruptcy Judge Jacob Dim (1976-77).

Halpern and others, including Judge Montgomery and Frank Hermann (Chapter President from 1985-86) credit Judge Robert Renner, who was United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota when he served as Chapter President (1974-75), as instrumental in leading our Chapter to where we are today. Judge Renner astutely recognized that when people know each other, they work better together, both inside and outside of the courtroom. Halpern recalls Judge Renner’s encouragement to become active in the FBA early 1970s when Halpern returned to Minnesota after working in Washington, D.C. Halpern said he appreciated the collegial atmosphere of the Chapter, which provided young attorneys such as himself with an opportunity to socialize with other federal practitioners and to learn the tools of the trade at the monthly luncheons and federal practice seminars.

That simple concept of welcoming people and knowing each other is a cornerstone of our Chapter that has been carried through the years. And the FBA provided a welcoming community to many who came—or returned—to Minnesota to practice law in our Chapter’s early years. Richard Flint joined the FBA in 1962, two years out of law school, after his reserve unit was called up and he was commissioned a Judge Advocate General. Living in Washington, D.C. and working out of the Pentagon, Flint was an active member of the FBA in the nation’s capital and an early leader of the national Younger Lawyers Division. When he returned to Minnesota to practice law as a civilian in 1964, Flint was keenly aware of the value of the FBA and asked the President of the D.C. Chapter to write a letter of recommendation to the Minnesota President as a way to become integrated into the local community. Flint quickly ascended the ranks in Minnesota, serving as Chapter President from 1967-68. He remembers the organization as being small but vibrant and an excellent opportunity to make friends, many of whom were helpful to a young lawyer. One such friend was Harry Sieben, Chapter President 1968-69, who at the time was a leader in the Small Business Administration and would later become a United States Magistrate Judge and Clerk of the District Court. Flint recalls that Sieben “knew everybody in town” and routinely brought in local dignitaries and other community leaders to speak at the monthly lunches.

Judge Andrew Danielson, who served as United States Attorney for our District in 1977-78 and became Chapter President 1980-81 (and later, Hennepin County Judge) was one of many who commented about the close relationship between the bench and bar in Minnesota that has been long-cultivated by our Chapter. The Minnesota FBA—with the bench’s steadfast support—has from its earliest years provided opportunities for practicing attorneys to know Minnesota’s federal judges inside as well as outside of the courtroom. Danielson recounted that these relationships were facilitated by the fact that the federal practice was relatively small even through the early 1980s, so that almost everyone who had cases in federal court knew each other and the judges that presided over their cases.

1944 to Mid-1980s

MID-1980s TO 2000

The Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association issued a press release in 1985 announcing the election of Judge Ann Montgomery as “the first woman President in the chapter’s 24-year history.” Judge Montgomery was a newly appointed judge of the Hennepin County District Court when she took the helm of the Minnesota Chapter. “My being a woman wasn’t what concerned some people,” she remembered. “Rather, it was that I was a judge in state rather than a federal court.” As the second woman to serve as Assistant United States Attorney for the District of Minnesota, and a long-time member and leader of the Minnesota Chapter, Judge Montgomery was, of course, well-qualified for her dual state and federal roles. And she served as a standard bearer in both capacities for those who followed in her footsteps. Indeed, that very same press release announced Chapter scholarships to local law students, including the Harry A. Sieben Award for Trial Advocacy, earned by then-William Mitchell law student, and future Hennepin County Judge, United States Magistrate Judge and Minnesota FBA board member, Jeanne Graham.

During her tenure as President of the Minnesota Chapter, Judge Montgomery made a point to reach out to the wider legal community, and especially to women lawyers in private practice. She worked to make the organization “user friendly,” emphasizing both the educational and social benefits of being a Chapter member. Judge Montgomery recalled, “The seminars, the monthly luncheons, and the annual dinner dance were all important ways for members to build relationships and to acquire more knowledge about practicing federal law.”

Inclusion of the wider legal community continued to be a priority during Frank Hermann’s presidency in 1986-87. Hermann noted that during his tenure, “members were starting to come more from private law firms and less from government agencies.” He thought this was valuable because “government people all seemed to know each other, but it was hard to know someone from other law firms unless you were up against them in court.” Approximately 150 people attended the annual dinner dance at Oak Ridge Country Club during Hermann’s presidency, which he said helped to start many friendships and break down many barriers.

Barriers continued to dissolve and friendships continued to grow among members of the bench and the bar, as judges became increasingly active in the FBA during this time. Vance Opperman, Chapter President from 1987-88, used “friendly persuasion” to foster judges’ continued participation in the organization. According to Opperman, Judges Robert Renner, David Doty, and James Rosenbaum, were especially interested in the FBA during this period. The judges’ participation in the annual federal practice seminar and as monthly luncheon speakers brought about a feeling of “a federal family,” said Opperman, adding that “it wasn’t so scary for a young lawyer to plead a case in front of a judge in court after dining with him or her at a monthly luncheon.” As Judge Doty remarked in a recorded interview in 1987, although “[m]ost lawyers who get to federal court know enough to be courteous,” many have noted the “extra sense of civility” the Minnesota Chapter of the FBA has fostered between the bench and bar.

While the Minnesota Chapter grew and diversified, it began to offer more programs and opportunities for its members. For example, during Judge Robert Kressel’s presidency in 1989-90, the federal practice seminar was videotaped for the first time. The tapes were to be made available for private showings to local law firms for $100. The topic for the first taped seminar: “Introduction to the Federal Courts.” Perhaps as a reflection of his role presiding over bankruptcy cases, Judge Kressel was also particularly attuned to fiscal responsibility during his tenure as President. He recalls asking board members to bring their own lunches to meetings, although he volunteered to supply the water.

The extra sense of civility and equality among the members drew Linda Holstein to the organization as a young lawyer; she soon learned that these two qualities carried over when to her cases in federal court. Holstein said she felt comfortable attending luncheons and seminars, even though she was younger than most of the members and one of the few women at these events. She said Opperman was right when he encouraged her to “not waste time with other organizations – this is where you belong.” Holstein worked on several Chapter committees, served as treasurer, and then was elected President for the 1991-92 term.

The following year, Judge James Rosenbaum became the first sitting Article III judge to serve as President of the Chapter. He did so at the urging of Holstein and his friend since college, Vance Opperman. Judge Rosenbaum said he accepted the position because he believed it would continue to encourage a trusting relationship between the bench and bar, especially by socializing at the annual dinner dance, “a situation unique to Minnesota.” To this day, Rosenbaum refers to the Minnesota Chapter as a “really great club for lawyers.”

Judge Rosenbaum and his successor as Chapter President, Paul Floyd, established a tradition that continues today: when a judge is President, the President-elect serves as the judge’s “shadow.” The benefits of this working relationship went both ways, Floyd explained. The President-elect could relieve the judge of many day-to-day responsibilities of leading the Chapter and at the same time learn about the role of President by working in close partnership with the judge. And, added Floyd, in his case he and Judge Rosenbaum began a life-long friendship. Floyd, as so many people interviewed for this project, emphasized how impressed he was with the collegiality and mentoring opportunities membership the Chapter offered. “I hadn’t clerked for a federal judge after law school, so I had this picture in my mind of judges as oracles in black robes sitting high above me, separated from me by something like an electric fence. I soon learned that, at least in Minnesota, federal judges are human beings who care deeply about their colleagues on and off the bench and about seeing that the court system operates so that justice is available to every citizen.”

When Christine Meuers took the helm of the organization in 1994, one of her first acts as President was to sit down with then-Chief Judge Diana Murphy to understand the needs of the bench and ask how the Minnesota Chapter could help. Judge Murphy had a list—and Meuers went to work. Meuers did not stop there. While continuing to foster the tradition of the Chapter as a place for building relationships, she also saw it as a well-spring for ideas. “I wanted the monthly luncheons to be more than just a place to eat and chat but, rather, events members would come away from with new and provocative ideas and knowledge. I wanted members to feel that they were important to the organization and that the organization was important to them.” New initiatives also were seeded during Meuers’ presidency, including the Chapter Grant program, headed by future President Barbara D’Aquilla.

The Chapter golf tournament also gained prominence during this time, becoming “a much-anticipated part of the Chapter’s activities,” according to Keith Halleland, who served as President in 1995-96. Although a golf tournament was held as early as 1974, it became an established annual event in the mid-1990s. Halleland recalls, “at first I had to beg members to participate, with the incentive that the event would enhance the bench and bar relationship.” He worked hard to ensure that the judges and women would play, along with “anyone else who could pick up a club.” In doing so, Halleland leveraged attorneys’ natural tendency to be competitive, along with the notion that golfing with friends is fun. According to Halleland, one of the biggest supporters of the tournament was – and continues to be – Judge Doty, who presided over the Chapter as President in 1996-97.

During the 1990s, monthly luncheons also saw increased participation. Dan Gustafson, Chapter President 2002-03, employed modern technology (the fax machine) and savvy marketing (season passes) when he chaired the luncheon committee. The fax machine not only served to broadly disseminate invitations to monthly luncheons, it was a tool for communicating Chapter news to members.

Another hallmark of the Minnesota Chapter, which continued through the 1990s, is the commitment to mentoring future leaders. Patrick Williams, Chapter President 1997-98, praised Judge Doty for urging his law clerks – including Williams and later President Randy Kahnke (2001-02) – to become involved by inviting them to attend Chapter events. Patricia Bloodgood recalls Judge Doty, along with Linda Holstein and others, as mentors as Bloodgood led numerous Chapter committees and initiatives, such as the Pro Se Project, before her election to the role of President in 1999. Keith Hallelund remembers the influence of Judges Miles Lord and Paul Magnuson in encouraging future Chapter leaders. The importance of mentoring and being mentored was emphasized by every past president who was interviewed for this project.

The increased diversity and involvement of members and the development of young leaders set the stage for the Minnesota Chapter’s continued growth in the new millennium.

2000 TO THE MID-2010s

The steadfast dedication of the bench and bar’s commitment to our Chapter and the needs of our federal court community is exemplified in numerous initiatives that began as ideas in the 1990s took hold in the new millennium.

The origins of what is now the District of Minnesota’s nationally recognized Pro Se Project date back to a brown bag lunch in 1996. That is the year Patricia Bloodgood, who was then serving as chair of the Chapter Pro Bono committee and would later lead the organization into the new millennium as President (1999-00), held a brown bag lunch with Clerk of Court Frank Dosal, the Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) and FBA members to discuss pro se issues in the federal court. There began the FBA’s collaboration with the Court and VLN aimed at improving access to justice by providing civil pro se litigants with an opportunity to have meaningful consultation with a lawyer. At that time, the majority of pro se cases involved employment law matters.

Over time, the needs for pro se cases continued to evolve. In 1998, now-Magistrate Judge Steve Rau chaired a task force to assess the Chapter’s efforts to provide pro se litigants representation in federal court and to ensure that the Chapter’s efforts in this area continued to flourish. Under the leadership of Rau and many others, the program continued to grow. By 2007, the Chapter’s pro se panel consisted of over 100 volunteer FBA attorneys and the program had expanded to include civil rights, social security and bankruptcy cases. This early work was the early seed for what would later become the nationally recognized Pro Se Project, created in partnership with the Minnesota federal court.

The watershed moment for the program came in 2008, when the Court and the Minnesota FBA reexamined the issue of pro se cases in the District and began looking into how the program could be enhanced to connect litigants with volunteer lawyers. In the summer of 2008, then-Chief Judge Michael J. Davis (President in 2004-05) approached the Chapter about establishing an enhanced program to aid both the Court and the public through the pro bono representation of civil pro se litigants. The Minnesota FBA Chapter, through Dan Gustafson (2002-03 Chapter President), Magistrate Judge Rau (2008-09 Chapter President), Lora Friedemann (2009-10 Chapter President), and Jeffer Ali (chair of the Chapter Pro Se committee), heeded the Court’s call and jumped into action. With the tireless work of these and other leaders from the Court and the FBA, the Pro Se project was born and its leaders went on the road to law firms throughout the community to garner support and participation. In May 2009 the Gustafson Gluek law firm agreed to administer the Pro Se Project on a voluntary basis. In June 2010, the Chapter hired Tiffany Sanders as the Pro Se Project’s Coordinator. Sanders, who continues to steward the Project as Coordinator to this day, was instrumental in formalizing the Project and guiding its growth over the years. The Project was an immediate success and has garnered numerous national awards and accolades, including the national FBA’s Ilene and Michael Shaw Public Service Award and the American Bar Association’s Harrison Tweed Award, one of the ABA’s most respected honors. With the success of its formative years firmly rooted, the Pro Se Project is well-situated to serve the community and the Court for years to come.

In 2000, Judge James Loken became the first judge of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to serve as President of the Minnesota Chapter. In doing so, Judge Loken continued the deep commitment of the bench to the FBA community. Although he had long been active in Chapter leadership, and continues his involvement in the board to this day, Judge Loken is quick to credit the work of others, reflecting on his role as a “supporter” of the myriad activities and initiatives that the Chapter was engaging in as it entered the new century. As it passed from the 1990s to the new millennium, the Chapter continued to pursue new areas of growth and opportunity for its members.

One such initiative that launched in 2001 was the Chapter’s formal commitment to diversity. In October of that year, the Diversity Committee was formed with a responsibility to encourage more active participation of attorneys of diverse backgrounds at all levels of the FBA in an effort to benefit not only the FBA, but the broader legal community as a whole. In 2005, the Chapter adopted a formal resolution demonstrating the Chapter’s strong commitment to diversity. From 2005 to 2007, Judge Donovan Frank (Chapter President in 2010-11) helped to lead the Minnesota Chapter’s Diversity Committee. The work of the committee broke new ground—the Minnesota Chapter was the first and for many years the only FBA Chapter with a Diversity Committee—and soon was recognized on a national level. In 2006, the national FBA awarded Judge Frank the Elaine R. “Boots” Fisher Award for his outstanding public service and dedication to diversity in the legal community. In 2011, the national FBA board of directors incorporated a commitment to diversity in the FBA’s Mission Statement, which became part of the FBA’s Constitution. They called on Judge Frank to lead the FBA’s national Diversity Task Force. As part of that work, Judge Frank, along with other leaders from the Minnesota Chapter, conducted the national organization’s Annual Chapter Leadership Training on diversity issues.

The Minnesota Chapter’s work in the area of diversity and inclusion continued to deepen and expand in the years that followed. For example, every year the committee coordinates numerous events with other diverse organizations to encourage networking and inclusion of everyone in our diverse legal community, including members of all racial and ethnic minority groups, women, people with developmental disabilities and the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. The Chapter also supports the Page Education Foundation, whose mission is to encourage Minnesota’s youth of color to pursue post-secondary education, including law school. And its commitment to diversity and inclusion has been at the core of the Chapter’s major initiatives, including the Pro Se Project, the Federal Transportation Project, and the Chapter’s educational and awareness work in the areas of disability justice.

The Chapter’s commitment to new lawyers also became formalized in the new millennium. A longstanding tenant of the organization has been to provide mentoring to new lawyers who are beginning their practice in federal court. In 1996, the Chapter established the Newer Lawyers Committee as an enhanced commitment to this purpose. The Committee has two goals: (1) to acquaint newly practicing lawyers with the federal bench and typical issues in federal court and (2) to foster FBA membership. In 1999, the Committee began the tradition of organizing in-chambers luncheons for newer lawyers with the federal bench. These luncheons, graciously hosted by members of the bench, provide an opportunity to learn about current issues in the court in a small and informal setting. By 2004, the program had expanded to include a summer associate luncheon hosted by the Chief Judge, which is so popular that it has been expanded to two Chief Judge luncheons to accommodate all who want to attend.

The Chapter’s grant program also took hold as we entered the new century. In 1995, Barb D’Aquilla reported to the board that significant funds were raised at that year’s dinner dance—leading to a discussion about how the funds could be used to further the Chapter’s goals. In 1996, the Chapter created a foundation to provide grants to various 501(c)(3) organizations for activities that further the Chapter’s mission and, in particular, have a focus on issues that are federal in nature. The foundation was funded the following year and in 1998 the Chapter issued its first grants. Each year since then, a committee of FBA leaders solicits and evaluates the organizations that apply to the Chapter for grants and presents recommendations to the Board of Directors for approval. The Grant Committee’s mandate is to identify, evaluate and recommend potential Chapter grant recipients, including those involved with promoting and supporting legal research and education, advancing the science of federal jurisprudence, facilitating the administration of justice and fostering improvements in the practice of federal law, including the elimination of bias the promotion of diversity and high standards of federal practice. Since 1998, the Minnesota Chapter has awarded over $330,000 in grants to numerous organizations whose work furthers those goals. As Judge Joan Ericksen (Chapter President 2013-14) remarked, “The Chapter’s annual grants are an important part of what makes the Minnesota Chapter such a meaningful organization. Our Chapter’s leaders and members devote a great deal of time and thought into making recommendations to the board that are in line with our mission and the needs of our community and the organizations that serve them.”

Dan Guftason took helm of the Chapter in 2002, but had been an active member and leader of the organization since his law school days. Gustafson said when he started attending Chapter events as a law student and working for a law firm, the annual Judges’ Dinner Dance “was the big event that defined the organization,” while the monthly luncheons still were a rather small by comparison. Gustafson changed that when he became chair of the luncheon committee in 1998 and invited newly-appointed U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank to speak. The spark was lit. “This really drew a larger attendance,” said Gustafson. “Then we decided to streamline the notice process and started sending out faxes to remind members about the luncheons – crude in comparison to today’s email and text messages but much more efficient than just notices in the newsletter.” Gustafson continued to usher in new ways for the Chapter to communicate with its members, spearheading the evolution from fax to email and, along with now-Magistrate Judge Becky Thorson and Kristine Boylan, developing the Chapter web site. Gustafson’s activity in the Chapter increased “to almost a full-time job” when he became heavily involved in the Pro Se Project, which he calls “one of the great things about this organization.” Gustafson’s early, longstanding and continued support of the Project has been a keystone for its success.

During Gustafson’s leadership, the Chapter also continued to pay respects to its past and plan for its future. In March 2003, past-President Judge Ann Montgomery discussed plans for the first Mason Memorial Seminar and the goal of establishing an annual lecture to honor Magistrate Judge Mason’s commitment to diversity and equal opportunity. Since then, with the continued guidance of Judge Montgomery, the Mason Memorial Luncheon has become a cornerstone of the Chapter’s Annual Federal Practice Seminar, featuring renown speakers on a multitude of topics year after year. While it created a tribute to Judge Mason’s memory in 2003, the Chapter also continued to plan for future. That same year the Chapter Board established the Long Range Planning Committee to institutionalize ongoing and thoughtful planning for the organization in the years to come.

While new projects and initiatives continued to evolve in the new century, they were all made possible by the historical and cherished hallmarks of collegiality and collaboration that have long been the foundation of our FBA Chapter. Mary Knoblauch, Chapter President 2003-04, noticed this collegiality very quickly upon becoming involved in the FBA early in her career. “I soon learned, from talking to other members and when I was involved at the national level, that this was unique to the Minnesota Chapter,” said Knoblauch. Those qualities that the Minnesota Chapter so purposefully cultivated and shared continue to be a compelling draw for new members. During Knobloch’s year as President, membership in the Chapter increased from about 490 to 700, with now-Magistrate Judge Thorson serving as the Chapter’s Vice President for Membership.

At the Spring meeting of the Board in 2004, Rebecca Chaiken of the United States Probation Office made a presentation to the Chapter Board about an initiative to set up a program to assist family members of female federal inmates from Minnesota who were serving their terms in other states because there were no federal prison facilities for women in Minnesota. Knobloch formed a committee to explore with representatives of the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the U.S. Probation Office, and other federal agencies what role, if any, the Chapter would take in addressing that issue. The Minnesota Chapter responded with the Federal Transportation Project. The project got rolling on May 20, 2005, with children, their caregivers, and Steven E. Rau, who would later become Chapter President in 2008 and Magistrate Judge in 2011, boarding a bus to the Federal Correctional Institution in Pekin, Illinois. From that point forward, routine bus trips were made, usually filled with almost 50 people. The Federal Transportation Project served hundreds of inmates and their families over the years it was in operation.

When Judge Michael J. Davis’s (Chapter President 2004-2005) took the helm as President of the organization, he had long been a leading voice in our Chapter and, of course, the Court. His encouragement and embrace of new Chapter initiatives in partnership with the Court are too numerous to count, but notably include the Pro Se Project and a series of trailblazing events such as the Dred Scott Project, the Lawyers Without Rights and the Freedom Riders Exhibits in 2013; a series of programs honoring and supporting women in the law in 2014 and 2015; and most recently, programs and exhibits focused on the Asian Pacific Law Experience in America and Native American Treaty Rights.

Judge Davis credits now-Magistrate Judge Becky Thorson for not only providing “shadow” support during his presidency, but for carrying on with strong and fearless leadership during the term of her presidency that followed (2005-06). Under President Thorson’s leadership, the Chapter continued to flourish and pursue projects and initiatives built on our Chapter’s founding principles. Judge Thorson’s leadership was not limited to her term, or to Minnesota, for that matter. Among other things at the national level, Judge Thorson went on to be a nationally respected leader, serving as editor-in-chief of the national organization’s magazine, the Federal Lawyer, among other national roles.


Settling in to the New Century

As noted in previous sections, the Minnesota Chapter of the FBA has taken on important new initiatives in recent years, including a tradition of hosting judicial delegations from around the world starting under Doug Elsass’s presidency, to launching the nationally renown Bar Talk newsletter under Magistrate Judge Boylan’s presidency, to the Pro Se and Federal Transportation Projects, which took hold under the leadership of now-Magistrate Judge Rau (2008-09) and Lora Friedemann (2009-10), to its unparalleled commitment to diversity and inclusion led by Judge Frank (2010-11), to its long tradition of tireless service as exemplified by Pat Martin, who served as a member of the Board for numerous years before serving as a shadow support for Judge Frank’s term as President, capped by Martin’s own term as President (2011-12).

Preserving our Chapter’s history was the brainchild of former President Rachna Sullivan (2012-13), who, along with other members of the Long Range Planning Committee developed the Minnesota FBA History Project, which was originally published in a series of installments of Bar Talk and is now preserved here.

One of the initiatives Judge Joan N. Ericksen developed during her 2013-14 term as President was the White-Collar, Compliance, and Criminal Law Committee. This committee was formed with the goal of bringing together a community of practitioners to think about practice areas and to increase collegiality.

The following year, during the presidency of Rachel Zimmerman Scobie (2014-15), Minnesota Chapter hosted a series of programs celebrating women and the law, beginning with an event in September 2014 honoring Judge Diana E. Murphy: the first woman to serve as a district judge on a federal court in Minnesota, the first woman to serve as Chief Judge of a district court in the Eighth Circuit, the first woman appointed to the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, and the first woman to chair the United States Sentencing Commission. The event capped with a keynote address by U.S. Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg. The series also included a Leadership Summit to explore, analyze, and develop strategies for addressing the gender imbalance in leadership positions in law firms and corporate in-house legal departments.

In reflecting on his term as Chapter President, Bill Otteson (2015-16) noted his appreciation for the work of the many individuals who have made the Chapter what it is today. Specifically, he noted the impressive strength of the Chapter’s institutional programs, such as the monthly luncheons, the newer lawyers program, the annual seminar, and the dinner dance, that provide diverse forums for our community to learn from and build relationships with each other. At the same time, under Otteson’s leadership the Minnesota Chapter continued to expand its reach by adding a Mass Tort, Multi-District Litigation and Class Action Practice Group and engaging in new partnerships to address important issues such as Islamophobia and self-government of the Dakota and Ojibwe nations.

The coming years will undoubtedly bring many new opportunities for the Chapter and its members. With gratitude to the many people who have worked so hard to build our strong history, we look forward to the future.


Honorable Miles W. Lord • Thomas A. Steele, Jr. • Robert G. Lauck • Linn J. Firestone • Honorable Hartley Nordin • Eugene P. Daly • Richard N. Flint • Harry A. Sieben, Sr. • Richard C. Johnson • Clayton B. Doughty • Vernon J. Rausch • Jay B. Kelly • Honorable Robert G. Renner • John A. Murray • Honorable Jacob Dim • Frederick W. Lambrecht, Jr. • Lloyd O. Shervheim • John A. Halpern • Honorable Andrew W. Danielson • Dale E. Parker • Robert Barnhart • Robert F. Cunningham • Gary G. Carlson Honorable Ann D. Montgomery • Francis X. Hermann • Vance K. Opperman • Mark Arth • Honorable Mary E. Carlson • Honorable Robert J. Kressel • Linda L. Holstein • Honorable James M. Rosenbaum • Paul M. Floyd • Christine L. Meuers • Keith J. Halleland • Honorable David S. Doty • Patrick S. Williams • Barbara Jean D’Aquila • Patricia A. Bloodgood • Honorable James B. Loken • Randall E. Kahnke • Daniel E. Gustafson • Mary L. Knoblauch • Honorable Michael J. Davis • Honorable Becky R. Thorson • Douglas L. Elsass • Honorable Arthur J. Boylan • Honorable Steven E. Rau • Lora M. Friedemann • Honorable Donovan W. Frank • Patrick Martin • Rachna B. Sullivan • Honorable Joan N. Ericksen • Rachel Zimmerman Scobie • William J. Otteson • Tara C. Norgard • Honorable Susan R. Nelson • Kelly G. Laudon • Honorable Tony N. Leung • Vildan A. Teske • Dan Hedlund • Adam Hansen

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