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Starting a practice, Merchant reappointed, Petters’ lawyer’s woes

All you really need to start a solo practice

Eric Rice over at JDs Rising has a great must-have list for the increasing number of lawyers going solo. Among the sine qua nons he cites are a law degree, an office (be it a brick-and-mortar, home or virtual one), malpractice insurance, a bank account, a computer, a website (believe it or not, some lawyers don’t have one yet), business cards, a suit and determination.

One commenter named “Jim” adds one item to the list: “I am an attorney, and I must say that the biggest asset you can have is a marketing plan. Forget the suit and office unless you want to sit in your office and pretend you have clients,” he writes.

Hmmm.. I agree a marketing plan is important, but it can get a bit drafty in Minnesota without a suit on.

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Were the state’s two appellate courts involved in their own amazing race?

An interesting query on the Minnesota Litigator blog: “Civil litigators all know of the proverbial ‘race to the courthouse,’ in which litigants rush to file suit in their forum of choice to prevent the other side from picking a less favorable or convenient venue. But could there be instances of races FROM the courthouse when, say, a court issues a ruling quickly in advance of another pending case before a different court?”

And if a tree fell in the forest …

Minnesota Litigator goes on to talk about the Court of Appeals’ recent ruling in Interstate Companies, Inc., et al. v. City of Bloomington, an inverse condemnation case. (Click here for Minnesota Lawyer article.)

The case, released on Nov. 9, had been argued less than a month earlier. Why the haste?

Minnesota Litigator speculates that the “atypical speed” may have had something to do with the fact that, on Nov. 2, the Minnesota Supreme Court heard a case — DeCook, et al. v. Rochester Airport Joint Zoning Board — that presented the same issue.

I am not quite sure how the Court of Appeals could really “win” a race with the high court. While the Court of Appeals may be able to get to the finish line first, the Supreme Court could always tell it that it had gone the wrong direction.

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Hearing was contentious at times, but Merchant reappointed

 The ongoing saga at the appellate office of the State Public defender continues this week with the office’s chief squaring off against unhappy subordinates at what’s usually a pro-forma reappointment hearing.

Some defenders in the office have been vocally unhappy with the leadership for eight months, ever since the Board on Public Defense picked as the new appellate chief an outside candidate, David Merchant of the Minnesota Attorney General’s Office. Several internal candidates were bypassed in the hiring process, much to the chagrin of some members of the staff, who argue Merchant lack the qualifications and the experience to lead the office. Meanwhile, Merchant’s supporters say his critics within the office are grousing and never gave him a chance.

Merchant got a unanimous re-appointment, so he now has that chance. Click here for more from Minnesota Lawyer.

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Petters lawyer faces drug charges

The former corporate counsel for Tom Petters faces three felony drug possession charges involving cocaine, ecstasy and methamphetamine stemming from a 2008 raid at the headquarters of Petters Group Worldwide in Minnetonka, the Star Tribune reports.

David E. Baer, 37, of Eden Prairie, was the chief legal counsel for Petters Group Worldwide and Petters Companies, Inc.

The agents found a safe under Baer’s desk with his passport and the drugs, according to the complaint.

Baer is also reportedly the target of a civil lawsuit in the Petters corporate bankruptcy seeking the repayment of more than $3.2 million in bonuses.

The Strib article goes on to report that Minnesota Lawyer “magazine” named him as “one of the top lawyers in the state in 2006.” (Actually, Minnesota Lawyer newspaper named Baer as one of 15 “Attorneys of the Year” in 2006, but I won’t split hairs. Oh wait, I just did.)

I like to quip sometimes at our “Attorneys of the Year” awards dinner that none of our honorees has ever landed in prison — yet. We’ll see if that record is still intact by next February’s event.


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