| || || The Hennepin County Bar Association welcomed its 88th president as Michael W. Unger accepted the gavel from outgoing President Marlene Garvis at the annual meeting of the association. Unger, a Certified Civil Trial Specialist, is a solo-practitioner in Minneapolis, focused primarily on plaintiff’s personal injury cases. Unger took office July 1, 2006, but has been actively involved for months in preparations to head the 8,000-member association, the ninth largest local bar association in the country. |
Before establishing his own firm, Unger was a partner at Rider Bennett, LLP (1998-2005); Mackenzie & Hallberg, PA (1996-1998); and Hvass, Weisman & King Chartered (1983-1996). He received his bachelor’s degree at the University of Minnesota College of Liberal Arts in 1977, and his law degree from the University of Minnesota Law School in 1981.
Unger has devoted considerable energy to various law-related organizations and has served on numerous other committees and boards. He is a member of the Minnesota Supreme Court Advisory Committee on the Rules of Civil Procedure (1998-present), and is a past president of the Minnesota Justice Foundation and the Hennepin County Bar Foundation. Within the community, Unger serves as a board member for the Greater Twin Cities United Way, is a past president of the University of Minnesota Alumni Association, and is Regent Emeritus for the University of Minnesota.
The presidency is the pinnacle of a five-year commitment to the association’s leadership team. In his year as HCBA president, Unger will place an emphasis on “restoring the balance of professionalism.” First, he plans to focus efforts on ensuring judicial independence during the first round of ‘post-White’ judicial elections. He notes: “The HCBA will work to forge a sensibility in the electorate that the judiciary is different from other elected offices—that judges must remain fair and open-minded.” Secondly, he intends to further professionalism by promoting mentoring among member attorneys, “to create better attorneys and to build community within the practice.” His third professionalism emphasis will be through encouraging attorney involvement in bar service and pro bono work, to ensure “fair and equal access to justice.”
Unger intends to “build on what we have and better define the important areas of need for the future,” rather than seeking a unique legacy through a personal, distinctive mark on the organization.
Unger is married to Jeanne Hvass Unger, a partner at Rider Bennett, where she heads the insurance coverage group. They have two daughters: Katie, a 2006 graduate of Boston College, and Emily, a student at Barnard College. Unger enjoys running, biking, music, movies, politics, and following current events.