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Breaking the Ice: ‘Bridge builder,’ ‘lawyer’s lawyer’ leads MSBA

Todd Nelson//August 3, 2023

Paul Floyd

Paul Floyd

Breaking the Ice: ‘Bridge builder,’ ‘lawyer’s lawyer’ leads MSBA

Todd Nelson//August 3, 2023

Attorney Paul Floyd, the new Minnesota State Bar Association president, is approaching his term as a “bridge builder.”

A bridge is simply a means of helping lawyers to get from where they are to where they need to go to be successful, said Floyd, a partner at Wallen-Friedman & Floyd. The more solid the bridge, the easier it is to lead others across.

“The MSBA, the district bars and affinity bars all work toward the same professional goals — providing their members with a mission and purpose bigger than themselves, while at the same time providing member benefits to make the practice of law easier and less stressful,” Floyd said.

In leading the 13,000-member state bar association, Floyd brings experience from having served as president of the Hennepin County Bar Association, the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association and the Hennepin County Bar Foundation.

Joining an association can help reduce the risk of “loneliness, isolation and uncertainty,” that Floyd, describing himself as “one of the last of the baby boomers,” sees accompanying changes in the profession.

Known as a “lawyer’s lawyer,” Floyd has long worked behind the scenes to counsel lawyers on starting or dissolving firms.

“You don’t get a big paycheck, but it’s the non-monetary part that I really enjoy, which is helping somebody out and helping them see a new perspective,” said Floyd, who also is part-time general counsel to two companies.

Name: Paul Floyd

Title: Partner, Wallen-Friedman & Floyd; president, Minnesota State Bar Association

Education: B.A., political science, Judson College; J.D., William Mitchell College of Law

Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?

A: Tell me where you vacationed last and why there. It has nothing to do with the practice of law, and everything to do about telling me what you would rather be doing right this minute.

Q: Why law school?

A: When I watched my political science professor, who practiced law full time in Elgin, Illinois, argue an appeal before the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, I knew I wanted to be lawyer. Twenty years later, I had the honor of arguing an appeal before the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals in St. Paul and took a few minutes before the argument to reflect on how amazing life is.

Q: What are you reading?

A: Anything by the modern Japanese mystery writer Keigo Higashino. Start with “The Devotion of Suspect X: A Detective Galileo Novel.” You will be hooked.

Q: Pet peeve?

A: People who try to convince me that I will never taste the eggplant in their dish.

Q: Best part of your work?

A: Representing lawyers and law firms on governance and succession planning matters. It’s helping out colleagues in their best of times and their worst of times.

Q: Most challenging?

A: Staying current with all of the changes in the law. Hopefully A.I. assistants will help once they grow up and move out of the nursery.

Q: Favorite activity away from work?

A: Biking, watercolor and traveling. Just got back from a trip to Istanbul and Greece – so interesting and different from where I live.

Q: Where would you take someone visiting your hometown?

A: Minneapolis Institute of Art, the Walker Sculpture Garden, the Guthrie Theater.

Q: Legal figure you most admire?

A: Minnesota Associate Justice John E. Simonett, who served 1980-1994. A country lawyer known for his subtle wit and thoughtful and well-reasoned legal opinions. It was a rare privilege as a law clerk at the Minnesota Supreme Court to listen to Justice Simonett recite from memory the poem “Casey at the Bat.”

Q: Misconception that others have about your work?

A: I do not do the same thing over and over as a transactional lawyer. In fact, every day is filled with the unexpected and new. It keeps me on my toes.

Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?

A: The legal drama “The Lincoln Lawyer,” season one, Netflix. Just wow. Season two is out now and I can’t wait to find time (likely after my presidency) to relax and enjoy it.


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