Oct 1, 2022
For more than 80 years, our Chapter has worked hard to serve our bench, bar, and broader community. As we embark on a new term, our mission and our values—upholding the rule of law, fostering diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, encouraging professionalism and civility, and engaging with our community—remain as vital as ever.
President’s Welcome Message
By Adam Hansen
It is my great honor to welcome everyone to the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association!
For more than 80 years, our Chapter has worked hard to serve our bench, bar, and broader community. As we embark on a new term, our mission and our values—upholding the rule of law, fostering diversity and inclusion in the legal profession, encouraging professionalism and civility, and engaging with our community—remain as vital as ever. With these values front and center, our Chapter is poised for an extraordinary year. Now that the worst of the Covid pandemic is hopefully behind us (note to reader: please knock on the most accessible wooden object), our Chapter is moving full steam ahead. I am beyond excited by the incredible variety of dynamic programs and events our Chapter leaders have in the works in the coming year. Whether you’re a seasoned FBA veteran or brand new to our organization, I hope you take the opportunity to get involved. All are welcome here. And at day’s end, our Chapter owes its success to you: our members, who through your dedication and commitment bring our Chapter’s work to life. Welcome!
Let me begin by highlighting some of the great things our Chapter has in store.
Since 2020, the FBA has partnered with the Court to develop the Minnesota Justice & Democracy Centers. These centers, located in the St. Paul and Minneapolis federal courthouses, will bring together Minnesotans of all ages to learn—through visual displays, live events, and online interactive presentations—why justice and democracy matter in their lives. After many years of planning and hard work, the St. Paul Justice & Democracy Center is on track to open this winter. The Minneapolis Center will follow in late 2023 or early 2024. Chapter leaders Keiko Sugisaka, Elizabeth Bentley, and Jeff Justman are leading our efforts on this vital initiative.
The opening of the Justice & Democracy Centers should serve as an inspiration for our Chapter’s other work, too. We are living through a unique moment in history—for our profession, our country, and the world. Our work as attorneys and officers of the court embodies the same principles carved into the cornerstones of justice and democracy: the fair application of neutral legal rules, scrupulous attention to facts and evidence, and respect for the constitutionally assigned role of every actor in our democratic order.
Much of our Chapter’s programming in the coming year will reinforce these same themes. The Community Outreach Committee (led by Judge William Fisher, Vanessa Szalapski, Joey Balthazor, and Sam Walling) is planning a number of civics-oriented initiatives. In particular, our Chapter plans a long-awaited return (after an unfortunate Covid hiatus) of Court Camp: a week-long immersive experience where local students learn about our federal court system. And the Monthly Meetings Committee (chaired by Judge Eric Tostrud, Nate Louwagie, and Brittany Resch) plans to present a program on election administration in November.
Speaking of monthly meetings, I’m pleased to report that we plan to continue with in-person luncheons at the Minneapolis Club. At our first meeting, on September 14, we’ll hear remarks from the Court’s newest Article III judge, Judge Kate Menendez. The October 12 luncheon will feature reflections by Senior Judge Susan Richard Nelson. And the third lunch, on November 9 (the day after Election Day), will include a timely discussion on election law and administration.
Our Chapter’s various practice groups (Intellectual Property, led by Magistrate Judge Elizabeth Cowan Wright, Molly Littman, and Sheila Niaz; White Collar Crime, led by Kim Svendsen, Nick Scheiner, and Matthew Ebert; Mass Tort, Multi-District Litigation, and Class Actions, led by Kate Baxter-Kauf, Stacey Slaughter, and Scott Moriarity) also promise a return to form. Stay tuned for CLE events and networking opportunities from these groups. I’m also happy to share that our Chapter is launching a brand-new practice group this year: the Civil Discovery Practice Group. This group will focus on the important work of developing collaborative, fair, and efficient discovery best practices for the bench and bar. I want to extend my gratitude to recently-retired Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer, Niloy Ray, and Simeon Moreby for serving as inaugural committee members.
Last (and not at all least) on the events front, Chapter leaders are planning a wide array of programs, events, and other offerings. The Continuing Legal Education Committee (Magistrate Judge David Schultz, Manny Atwal, and Mike Rowe) looks to build on the recent in-person seminar with a full-day Federal Practice Seminar in the spring. The Special Events Committee (Rory Collins and Cassandra Jacobsen) has begun planning the annual Judges’ Dinner Dance. The annual golf tournament (planned by Peter McElligott and Mary Riverso), our Chapter’s longest-running event, will return as well. And for our newest and soon-to-be newest lawyers, the Newer Lawyers Committee (Olga Tymouch and Abou Amara) and Law School Outreach Committee (Hannah Leiendecker and Emily McAdam) are planning a wide range of programs and outreach events. Our Mentorship Committee (Kristen Marttila and Chelsea Walcker), a more recent initiative in the Chapter, looks to build and strengthen relationships between lawyers (and future lawyers) of every vintage.
I hope you’re as inspired as I am by what our Chapter offers. We owe a debt of gratitude to the leaders and members who helped shape this organization into what it is today. (I am especially grateful to our Chapter’s immediate past presidents, Tara Norgard, Judge Nelson, Kelly Laudon, Magistrate Judge Tony Leung, Vildan Teske, and Dan Hedlund, for their mentorship, leadership, and patience.) Now 80 years on, I hope that our Chapter lives up to its founding principles: professionalism, collegiality, respect for the rule law. But it is no less important that our Chapter continues to grow, evolve, and improve. With an eye on the future, I want to highlight some of our most important strategic goals.
For more than two decades, our Chapter has placed diversity and inclusion in our profession and our legal system at the center of its mission. Promoting diversity and inclusion is more critical now than ever. As Minnesotans, we’ve seen close up in recent years the heinous effects of discrimination. But we’ve also seen a renewed commitment to civil rights, and a deepening understanding that there is no rule of law without Equal Justice Under Law. Our Chapter’s commitment to diversity and inclusion reflects these principles. And our Chapter’s Strategic Plan for Diversity and Inclusion molds these ideals into actions: engaging and communicating with our diverse legal community, increasing the diversity of FBA leadership, highlighting diversity and inclusion through programming and speakers, and building external partnerships to advance our diversity-and-inclusion goals. These goals and actions touch every corner of our organization. But a few of our leaders and programs deserve a special mention. Christine Jordan, Chris Pham, and Magistrate Judge John Docherty lead the Diversity and Inclusion Committee—long our Chapter’s largest and most active committee. Our Chapter continues to co-sponsor an annual Leadership Summit on Gender Equity and the Law. Surya Saxena serves as our Affinity Bar Liaison coordinator. And Adine Momoh takes the helm this year as our Chapter’s Strategic Initiatives Coordinator—ensuring that we honor the goals set out in the Strategic Plan.
Our Chapter’s commitment to diversity and inclusion intersects with another strategic goal: building our Chapter membership. The Membership Committee, led by Timothy Griffin and Aaron Knoll, will continue with outreach efforts to members of affinity bars, attorneys in Greater Minnesota, and lawyers working in small firms, non-profits, and government agencies—all groups that have historically been underrepresented in our ranks. At the same time, our Membership Committee faces unique challenges—and opportunities—as we emerge from the Covid pandemic. Historically, our Chapter has been one of the largest FBA chapters in the country (and certainly the best!), with more than 900 members. During the pandemic, those numbers declined. In addition, the FBA changed its membership model from rolling memberships to memberships that turn over annually for everyone on October 1. The transition between the two systems caused some understandable confusion. Moving forward, though, we have a tremendous opportunity to take our membership to the next level. I urge you to renew your membership before the October 1 deadline—and encourage (at least) three colleagues to do the same.
If you weren’t already convinced, I hope I’ve made the case that our FBA Chapter is a very open and engaging place. On that note, I’ll conclude by encouraging one and all to get involved in the work of our Chapter. Please feel free to reach out to me or any of our committee chairs to learn more about opportunities to contribute and volunteer. (For a rundown of Chapter initiatives, visit https://www.fedbar.org/minnesota-chapter/minnesota-chapter/chapter-initiatives-get-involved/.) However you get involved, I very much look forward to seeing you all in the coming year.
Adam Hansen is an attorney at Apollo Law, where he represents employees and consumers in the United States Courts of Appeals and Supreme Court.