Minnesota’s New Appellate Rules: Top 5 Things to Know

Minnesota litigators: new appellate rules went into effect on July 1. Here are the highlights of what you need to know. Don’t prepare an appendix, but your addendum can be longer. As of July 1, 2014, no party may attach an appendix to its brief. Appellants are still required to prepare an addendum with the relevant order included. Both parties are also allowed 50 pages of discretionary content in the addendum. See Minnesota Rules of Appellate Procedure 130.01, 130.02. You (probably) don’t need a cost bond. Under the new rules “[n]o cost bond is required for any appeal, unless ordered by the trial court on motion and for good cause shown.” See Minnesota Rules of Appellate Procedure 107.01. Don’t file as many copies of the brief. The rule stating the number of paper copies of a brief to file with the appellate courts has been changed to refer to standing orders from each court. As of July 1, both the Minnesota Supreme Court and the Minnesota Court of Appeals require five copies of briefs. Leave two unbound for the supreme court and one unbound for the court of appeals. See Minnesota Rule of Appellate Procedure 131.03; Standing Orders from Minnesota Supreme Court and Minnesota Court of Appeals. You don’t need to get a certified copy of the order. The relevant order or judgment must still be filed with the appellate court, but it is no longer necessary to have the document certified. See Minnesota Rule of Appellate Procedure 103.01, Advisory Committee Comment – 2014 Amendments. E-filing for all appellate documents is on the horizon. Other changes to the appellate rules have been made to accommodate electronic filing in the appellate courts. There is a pilot project in the works, but e-filing is not allowed in the absence of a court order. See Minnesota Rule of Appellate Procedure 125.01. If...

MFAN Holds Summer Social

On July 9, 2014, MFAN members gathered at Sweeney’s Saloon in St. Paul for a fun summer outing. Those in attendance enjoyed catching up on one another’s practices and brainstorming ideas for MFAN’s next year. Special thanks to everyone who made it, and here’s to another great year for MFAN! Effective June 1st 2016, Lynn Walters is no longer accepting assignments as a freelance attorney. Lynn’s new company, Blackstock Walters, LLC, offers litigation support services such as legal research, motion preparation, and document summaries on a project basis. MFAN Bio | Email | Web | LinkedIn | MFAN...

Is This Anxiety?

As attorneys, we understand we have to manage stress. A little stress may help us perform at our best, but too much can be a problem—and may cause excessive anxiety. If you were able to worry less, what improvements would you see in your life and your practice? Do you want to find out? Read on for some steps to get started. 1. Accept that you’re in good company. In any given year, approximately 18% of adults in the United States suffer from an anxiety disorder. While more serious than everyday stress or worry, anxiety disorders are not a sign of weakness. Start by accepting these truths for yourself. Yes, some people still believe mental illness carries a stigma—but with 40 million people affected every year, that perception is unjustified. (There’s a reason why CLEs on mental health are often approved for elimination-of-bias credits in Minnesota.) You take care of your body when you have a physical illness, why not take care of your mental health as well? 2. Learn more about the symptoms of anxiety disorders. An anxiety disorder can take various forms, including generalized anxiety disorder, phobia, panic disorder, obsessive compulsive disorder, social anxiety disorder, and post-traumatic stress disorder. To learn more about the symptoms of each, here are some resources: Minnesota Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers Anxiety and Depression Association of America National Institute of Mental Health National Alliance on Mental Illness 3. Don’t let fear stand in your way. Even if the symptoms sound familiar to you, you might still hesitate before talking to someone about them. Some attorneys, perhaps due to work in litigation or personal experience with the legal system, fear their mental health records might be discoverable. Others worry about how their life will be upset by a diagnosis. They wonder what will happen, and what may need to change. These fears are...

Delegating a Project to a Freelancer

Attorneys, let’s just say you have too many projects on your desk. Having work is good; being overwhelmed is not. A freelance attorney can help. If this is the first time you have considered hiring a freelancer, it doesn’t take long to learn about the insurance, billing and ethical considerations, and prepare your practice to use a freelancer. But even if you have a project that needs urgent attention, you can still use a freelance attorney. Here’s how: 1. Select a project that you can assign to a freelancer. Research and writing projects are good places to start. Litigators can delegate many components of their work. If you have a transactional practice, start with outsourcing the preparation of a particular document. 2. Locate a qualified freelance attorney. Ask questions about their qualifications and business practices. Use good delegation practices from the outset to ensure a successful relationship with your freelance attorney. 3. Inform your client of your intent to hire temporary help on their case. Assure them that you will be supervising the freelance attorney and that you, not the freelancer, will be the one making the judgment calls. Advise your client how the cost of the freelancer’s time will be passed on to them. 4. Agree on contract terms that define the relationship between you and the freelancer. In order to streamline any future assignments, it can be helpful to use a master agreement and discuss project specifics by email. 5. Disclose client and party names to your freelancer to allow for a conflict check. 6. Discuss project details and deadlines. Set a deadline for the freelancer’s work to be returned to you, giving yourself adequate time to review and revise. 7. Make file materials available to your freelance attorney. Pay attention to current best practices within your jurisdiction for sharing electronic data. In general, it is best...

Five Easy Steps to Get Your Law Firm Ready for a Freelancer

Don’t wait until you are slammed with work to get help: you and your practice will benefit from the peace of mind that comes from having a go-to freelance attorney ready to step in to help with your practice. Whether you need someone for a particular type of project or because of a unique situation in your practice, the following steps will prepare your office to smoothly incorporate freelance legal help when the time is right. 1. Add language to your retainer agreement that informs your clients that you may use temporary legal help if it will benefit their case. Talk to new clients about how this will work in practice. If you have questions about the process or the necessary steps to ensure compliance with the ethical rules, feel free to call one of the MFAN attorneys to ask! 2. Find a freelance attorney (or two) that fits with your practice. Ask for any information you need to know to feel comfortable incorporating their help into your practice. In locating a qualified freelance attorney, you can start by browsing our own freelance attorney directory, asking colleagues about who they have used for freelance or contract assignments, or contacting a matchmaking service such as Custom Counsel. 3. Consider the contract terms that you would like to incorporate into an agreement with your freelance attorney. Discuss with your chosen freelance attorney(s) the use of a master agreement that can be drafted in advance and then finalized for the specific project. 4. Discuss malpractice insurance coverage with your freelance attorney. If he or she doesn’t have a separate policy, ask your malpractice carrier what can be done to ensure that the work is appropriately covered. 5. Discuss potential billing arrangements with your freelance attorney. Find out what billing structures your freelance attorney will consider, and discuss what billing options make the...

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