Attorneys of the Year: Robert F. Enger
Posted: 2:25 pm Mon, February 25, 2013
By Holly Dolezalek
Minnesota State Bar Association
Bob Enger has worked throughout his legal career to help lower-income clients get the legal help they need. But he’s also worked to make law in Minnesota at every level more responsive to that need.
The first member of his blue-collar family to go to college, he graduated from the University of South Dakota School of Law in 1993. After clerking for Judge James Preece for a year, he took a job with Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota. He’s still there after 18 years.
Today, Enger is a supervising attorney in the organization’s Bemidji office. He represents clients in housing issues like landlord-tenant disputes, family law matters, and consumer matters like fair debt-collection practices and bankruptcy.
That work has prepared Enger well for the theme of his presidency of the Minnesota State Bar Association: access to justice. Enger has chosen a couple of initiatives to promote during his presidency, which began in July 2012.
One is the Amicus Society, a program to encourage attorneys to advocate for full funding of the rule of law and public defenders. “It’s a grass-roots lobbying effort for attorneys to contact their local legislators about the need for more funding, and to get into civic groups so they can explain why the Legislature needs to do it,” Enger said.
The other is the North Star Attorney Program, which will recognize attorneys who meet their goals for pro bono hours. The program will include recognition at a ceremony and a plaque, and honorees will also be able to call themselves North Star Attorneys.
Enger is involved with other nonprofits in Bemidji as well, including Evergreen Youth and Family Services and the Northwest Dental Access Center, a clinic for low-income residents.
“They asked me to help because I know the population they want to serve and their trials and tribulations,” he said.