Lawyers Out on the Town in Minnesota

Check out the latest event galleries from Minnesota, featuring the latest association and law firm events. Would you like to see your event featured? Submit your event for consideration.

2023 Human Rights Award Dinner

June 15, 2023

The Advocates for Human Rights celebrated its 40th anniversary with the Human Rights Award Dinner on June 15, 2023. This annual event is the largest gathering of human rights supporters in the Upper Midwest. This year they returned to The Depot Minneapolis for an evening of recognition, celebration, and community. Numerous individuals and organizations were recognized for their vital role in the human rights movement.

Justice Alan Page was awarded the 2023 Don and Arvonne Fraser Human Rights Award for his life-long commitment to human rights. Justice Page has actively advocated for human rights, equality, and social justice throughout his career as a Supreme Court justice, attorney and professional athlete.

The Advocates presented Greater Caribbean for Life with the Human Rights Defender Award. Since 2013, GCL and its 49 members have advocated nationally, regionally and internationally to change hearts and minds to eliminate the death penalty in law and in practice in the Greater Caribbean Region. In a region that retains strong opposition to abolition, GCL is a beacon for human rights. A partner of The Advocates since its founding a decade ago, GCL joined an Advocates’ delegation at the UN in Geneva earlier this year.

Law Firm Pro Bono Awards were presented to Faegre Drinker, Lathrop GPM, and Fredrikson. Volunteers at its law firm partners Faegre Drinker and Lathrop GPM have represented asylum seekers for decades, and both firms stepped forward to help Afghan evacuees in more than three dozen cases. The Advocates also celebrated Fredrikson’s paralegals and other legal professionals who have worked on immigration cases and helped The Advocates respond to increasing legal needs and an ever-changing landscape of laws and regulations.

The Advocates also presented Volunteer Awards to several outstanding individuals who contributed to advancing human rights in Minnesota and around the world. Amy Fiterman conducted dozens of interviews with Ukrainian human rights defenders to record what they had seen and heard that would fall within the scope of war crimes, crimes against humanity, and genocide. Fiterman’s expertise as a litigator was invaluable in documenting these experiences and in advocacy to the UN to magnify Ukrainian voices. For more than three years, Brittany Knutson has volunteered with the WATCH court observation project, monitoring proceedings for access to justice for victims of gender-based violence. Christin Eaton and Linda Svitak are inviting new people to the table with their work on a cookbook that tells stories of resilience, hope, and celebration through recipes shared by clients and members of our immigrant communities in Minnesota. 

The Advocates for Human Rights has reached an impressive 40-year milestone in the fight for human rights. The organization now looks to the future and continuing its mission of critical research and advocacy, transforming volunteers into advocates for human rights.

Judge Jerry W. Blackwell Joins Living History

February 15, 2023

You may recall the February 2020 issue of Attorney at Law Magazine Minnesota presented a pair of articles addressing legal black history in MN. The first piece, “Legal Diversity: 30 Years in the Trenches” was authored by then private practice attorney Jerry W. Blackwell. The other, “Bending Toward Justice: The Black Experience in the Minnesota Judiciary” was written by Ramsey County District Court Judge JaPaul J. Harris. These were written, of course, just before COVID-19 had an impact in Minnesota.

Three years later, on December 21, 2022, Chief Judge Patrick Schiltz administered the oath of office to Judge Jerry W. Blackwell in his courtroom on the 15th floor of the Diana E. Murphy Federal Courthouse. Judge Blackwell made very brief remarks, and a small reception followed this private ceremony. Formal public investiture ceremony details have not been set yet by the courts as of our press deadline.

Judge Blackwell has since spent many hours in orientation. He’s slated for a two-day Federal Judicial Center training, referred to as “baby judge school.” Per Judge Schiltz, Judge Blackwell has had over 200 civil cases transferred to him from other active judges, selected randomly by the Clerk’s Office. Though criminal cases are not transferred to new judges, Judge Blackwell will receive his share of new cases as grand juries issue indictments.

In the three years that have passed since Blackwell penned “Legal Diversity: 30 Years in the Trenches,” he has been involved in several high-profile activities. He was instrumental in securing pro bono the first posthumous pardon in MN history for Max Mason, a Black traveling circus worker wrongfully convicted of raping a White woman in 1920. Mason’s co-workers, Elias Clayton, Elmer Jackson and Issac McGhie were lynched by a mob of around 10,000 in Duluth. Blackwell also served pro bono as a lead special assistant attorney general in the successful prosecution of former Minneapolis Police Department Officer Derek Chauvin for the murder of George Floyd. Now, the very successful firm he co-founded in 2006 with Martin “Skip” Burke (deceased, January 2016) is dissolved. A final note of “thank you” was posted last on the firm’s website.

Judge Blackwell is now part of “our legal profession’s groundbreaking in diversity – its ‘firsts.’” He is an additional success marker now of his “Years in the Trenches” (technically, nearing 35 years, having received his J.D. in 1987 from the University of North Carolina School of Law, and beginning his career at Robins Kaplan LLP).

May I have the good fortune to someday soon “call and have lunch with living history” (Judge Blackwell), as he continues to serve the Federal District of Minnesota. CONGRATULATIONS Judge Blackwell!

MNAPABA Hosts Annual Gala ‘Building Bridges: Connecting Our Past, Present, and Future’

August 24, 2022

The Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association (MNAPABA) hosted its Annual Gala on August 24, 2022, at the Nicollet Island Pavilion.

It was the organization’s first in-person gala since 2019, and they enjoyed a fantastic turnout with a beautiful venue, great company, and delicious food.

“As we have navigated the unexpected challenges and ever-changing environment of the last couple years, we have reflected on the things that matter to us most—our friends and family, our communities, and the well-being of the places we call home,” says MNAPABA 2021-22 President Mayura Noordyke. “The evening was a celebration with our community of members, supporters, and friends that give us all the strength and resilience we lean on as we move forward together.”
MNAPABA also celebrated its law student scholarship recipients who received the Inaugural Terry M. Louie Founder’s Scholarship, named after a founding member of MNAPABA and the organization’s first president.

Keynote speaker ThaoMee Xiong, executive and network director of the Coalition of Asian American Leaders (CAAL) provided an inspirational yet grounding story about her experiences as an immigrant, her work advocating for underserved communities, and what it means to her to connect with the past and look forward to the future.

MNAPABA would like to thank all its sponsors for making this event happen and thank everyone who joined for the evening.

“We look forward to a new board year,” says Noordyke.

Attorney at Law Magazine Minnesota

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