In the midst of the tumultuous year, Minnesota Lawyer’s class of Attorneys of the Year for 2020 addressed these and other important issues. This year’s awards highlight work protecting Minnesotans during the pandemic, establishing precedent for peacetime emergency, maintaining the integrity of Minnesota elections, protecting vulnerable prison populations during a deadly pandemic, restoring a lake’s name to Bde Maka Ska, and much more.
Cases involving the legal implications surrounding patent infringement, complex estate plans, and even those of materials that travel through substrates in a case of a community’s polluted soil and groundwater were just some of the issues addressed by this year’s group of honorees.
One notable case among those being recognized addresses a shameful event in Minnesota history. In 1920, a Black man named Max Mason was wrongly convicted of raping a white woman. Despite a lack of evidence, other Black men were also accused, three of whom were subsequently lynched. Jerry Blackwell and Corey Gordon (both Circle of Excellence honorees featured on the cover) were among the leaders of a team who worked pro bono to find a way to clear Mason’s name. Their work resulted in the first posthumous pardon in the state’s history.
For Outstanding Service to the Profession in 2020, Minnesota Lawyer recognizes the work from one group — an elite team of court staff who made sure that Minnesota’s legal system would operate remotely. Also honored were Cindy K. Telstad, Streater & Murphy; Former Minneapolis Mayor Sharon Sayles Belton, Thomson Reuters; and Tom Nelson, former Minnesota State Bar Association president, Stinson. We also honor the work of two judges: Chief Judge Edward J. Cleary, Minnesota Court of Appeals, retired; and Justice David Lillehaug, Minnesota Supreme Court, retired, now at Fredrikson & Byron.
Congratulations to all of the 2020 Attorneys of the Year honorees.
— Joel Schettler, editor
Outstanding Service to the Profession, group
Outstanding Service to the Profession, individuals
= Circle of Excellence Attorney of the Year
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