Chapter Initiatives – Get Involved!

Federal Practice Seminar

Each summer, the Minnesota FBA presents its annual Federal Practice Seminar with the goals of fostering improvements in the practice of federal law, including the elimination of bias and the promotion of diversity and high standards of ethical practice, facilitating the administration of justice, and promoting legal education. This year’s Seminar will feature renowned speakers on current federal practice issues. To get involved please contact Vice Presidents of Legal Education Magistrate Judge Kate Menendez and Joel Schroeder

To get involved, please contact Vice Presidents of Legal Education Joel Schroeder and Magistrate Judge Kate Menendez.

Federal Pro Se Project

The Pro Se Project is a collaboration between the Minnesota District Court and the Minnesota Chapter of the Federal Bar Association to improve access to justice in our Federal Courts and to address the growing challenges civil pro se litigants pose to our Federal Judicial System. The goal of the Pro Se Project is to provide civil pro se litigants with an opportunity to have a meaningful consultation with a volunteer lawyer.

Volunteer attorneys who participate in the Pro Se Project are a tremendous help to pro se litigants, to our District Court, and to all Federal practitioners with paying clients. Each and every volunteer attorney’s efforts collectively help unclog our Federal Court System and make justice more accessible to those with limited means. The Minnesota Board of Continuing Legal Education (CLE) designated the Pro Se Project as an Approved Legal Services Provider. Volunteer attorneys are eligible to receive pro bono CLE credits for time spent on Pro Se Project cases. And, the Pro Se Project partnered with the Minnesota Justice Foundation to provide volunteer law clerks to attorneys who work on Pro Se Project cases.

In recognition of the Pro Se Project’s important work in improving indigent, disabled, and minority pro se litigants’ access to justice, the American Bar Association recently selected the Pro Se Project to receive its prestigious 2011 Harrison Tweed Award. For more information on the Pro Se Project and how you can participate, contact the Pro Se Project Coordinator, Tiffany Sanders, at or (612) 965-3711.

Grant Committee

The Grant Committee solicits and evaluates applications for FBA chapter grants from organizations whose activities are consistent with and advance the mission of the FBA and in particular have a focus on issues that are federal in nature. The Committee recommends to the Board of Directors which applicants in its judgment should be awarded grants and in what amounts. This year, the committee reviewed over twenty grant applications and made its recommendations to the FBA Board of Directors on October 25, 2017. The Grant Committee Chairs, Michael Sawers at or Keiko Sugisaka at for information on how to apply or for an application packet.

If your organization is interested in applying for an FBA chapter grant please contact one of the Grant Committee Chairs, Michael Sawers at or David Schultz at are always looking for new committee members. Please let them know if you’d like to join the Committee.

Monthly Luncheons

From September through May of each year, the FBA hosts a monthly luncheon at The Minneapolis Club on a topic of interest to the federal bench and bar. In addition to hearing from engaging speakers on engaging topics, the lunches also offer opportunities for FBA members to network with each other and the federal judges, many of whom are in attendance.

Please check the Chapter’s website and calendar for additional details. For more information about the FBA monthly lunches, please contact Magistrate Judge Tony N. Leung or Elizabeth Cowan Wright .

Diversity Committee

The mission of this committee is to further diversity and inclusion within the Minnesota Chapter, our federal court system, the legal profession, and our greater community. Committee members plan events and seminars bringing together lawyers, judges, law students and other community members. These events are informative as well as an opportunity to call attention to current topics and challenges that affect diversity and inclusion. The committee also provides networking opportunities to facilitate the exchange of ideas and collaboration between groups and organizations interested in the committee’s mission. To get involved, please contact the Diversity Committee Chairs, Danielle Mair or Vildan A. Teske.

Communications Committee

The Communications Committee works to provide Minnesota FBA Chapter Members with timely and valuable information about Chapter business through quarterly publication of the newsletter Bar Talk, the Chapter website, the events platform, and timely emails to members. To get involved in Bar Talk, please contact the Communications Committee co-chairs, Fran Kern or Shannon Bjorklund . To request that your event or announcement be published using the Chapter website or emails, please contact Communications Committee co-chair Nate Louwagie.

Newer Lawyers Committee

The Newer Lawyers Committee is responsible for coordinating a series of monthly luncheons hosted by members of Minnesota’s federal bench for lawyers who have been practicing for five years or less. These luncheons present an excellent opportunity for newer lawyers to gather with federal judges on an informal basis. To get involved, please contact committee chairs Sahr A.M. Brima and Dustin Massieor Ann Motl.

Membership Committee

The Membership Committee is responsible for developing and implementing the Chapter's annual membership recruitment and retention programs, engaging in membership outreach to new members with an increased focus on diversity and inclusion with respect to members from the affinity bars, public sector, in-house, and greater Minnesota communities, as well as updating the Chapter's Membership Plan. Members of the Membership Committee review the Chapter's membership reports, which National submits to the Chapter monthly, and contact those whose memberships have recently lapsed. To get involved, please contact Adine Momoh at or Katherine S. Barret Wiik.

Law School Outreach Committee

Since 2012, the Law School Outreach Committee (LSOC) has served as a liaison connecting the Minnesota Chapter of the FBA with the FBA law school divisions of each law school in Minnesota. A key goal of the LSOC is to ensure that members of each school's law student division are getting the most out of their membership, including learning about federal practice areas; meeting members of the FBA, federal bar, and judiciary; and cultivating relationships within the legal community. To further these goals, the LSOC provides the local FBA Law Student Divisions with guidance on organizing events, obtaining funding, furthering diversity, and connecting with opportunities within the Minnesota Chapter of the FBA and FBA-National, and holds events to recognize and support law students within the Twin Cities area.

To get involved, please contact law school liaisons Lauren D’Cruz and Paige Stradley.

Intellectual Property Committee

The Intellectual Property Committee hosts a series of events designed to highlight cutting-edge legal issues in IP law and to bring together the judges and lawyers who adjudicate and litigate IP cases. If you would like to join the IP Committee or be included in its events, please contact Committee co-chairs Magistrate Judge Hildy Bowbeer or Tasha Francis.

Mass Tort and Class Action Practice Group

The Mass Tort and Class Action Practice Group's mission is to create a diverse community to address a spectrum of issues and substantive questions arising in cases in which a large number of plaintiffs assert common claims. The group focuses on both substantive and procedural legal developments as well as best practices. To get involved, please contact group chairs Tim Griffin , Elizabeth Odette, or Melissa Weiner .

White Collar, Compliance, and Criminal Law Committee

The White Collar, Compliance, and Criminal Law Committee brings together prosecutors from the U.S. Attorney’s Office and defense attorneys practicing in federal court to plan CLEs and social events designed to promote collegiality among lawyers from both sides of the courtroom. To get involved, please contact Committee co-chairs Matthew Forsgren ,Lousene Hoppe or Surya Saxena.

Annual Golf Tournament and Social Kick-Off Event

The Chapter's Annual Golf Tournament is a long-standing annual tradition that brings together members of the bench and bar at an end-of-season celebration filled with friendly competition and camaraderie. To get involved, please contact Committee chair Phillip Goter.

Pursuant to our Chapter’s By-Laws, the Nominations and Elections Committee is comprised of the Chapter’s most recent four Past Presidents, current President, President-Elect, and Vice Presidents of Diversity. Each year, the Nominations and Elections Committee convenes to review recommendations and needs for the Board in the coming year and presents a slate of proposed leaders to the membership for a vote at the May monthly luncheon. This year, the Honorable Joan N. Ericksen, Rachna Sullivan, Rachel Zimmerman Scobie, and Bill Otteson serve on the committee in their capacity as past Presidents; the Honorable Susan Richard Nelson, as President-Elect; the Honorable Tony N. Leung and Vildan Teske, as Vice Presidents of Diversity; and Tara Norgard, as the current President.


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