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Joan Ericksen

Recognition of outstanding service: Senior U.S. District Court Judge Joan Ericksen

Most attorneys are familiar with the feeling of a judge, peering over his or her glasses, giving you that look.

Joan Ericksen would rather not operate that way. In fact, the senior U.S. district judge for the District of Minnesota has great admiration for all practitioners of the law — even lawyers.

“The thing that’s remarkable to me is the amazing crop of young lawyers I’ve gotten to work with,” said Ericksen, who has been on the district bench since 2002.

“There’s a lot of discussion about how the practice of law has changed, and that’s true. But the fundamental practice remains the same, and has probably done so for 100 years: careful amassing of legal and factual arguments in service of the important interests of the client. There are changes in the public perception of lawyers, but those fundamental skills and talents remain constant.”

That outlook is typical of Ericksen, who is known to have an abid­ing respect for all facets of the law. The bench from which she rules is anything but an ivory tower.

Ericksen assumed senior status on the district bench last year, a state of semi-retirement meaning that her replacement can be ap­pointed by the president at any time.

That hasn’t happened, though, so Ericksen is planning to proceed as before — always remembering that every case has human beings behind it.

“It’s good for judges to remember that it’s not about them,” she said. “I’ve had lots of really interesting, gratifying cases.”

Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2019 here.

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