Minneapolis (05/11/11): -- The Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) recognizes two individuals each year—a judge and a lawyer—for their commitment to the highest of professional standards in the legal community. These professionalism awards are granted in the belief that professionalism serves the best interests of clients, fosters respect and trust between lawyers and the public, promotes the efficient resolution of disputes, and improves the administration of justice. The 2011 Professionalism Awards will be presented at the Annual Meeting of the HCBA, Tuesday, May 17, recognizing the Honorable James Swenson, chief judge of the 4th Judicial District (Hennepin County) Court, and Fredrickson & Byron attorney, Tom Fraser.
Judge James Swenson will receive the 2011 Professionalism Award recognizing his devotion to the profession and to the rule of law as well as the independence of the judiciary.
“Swenson has been a dynamic and progressive leader in Minnesota’s largest and busiest court,” said Sue Dosal, Minnesota State Court Administrator. “He has promoted innovation, creativity, and change to improve the administration of justice and to meet the significant demographic and budgetary challenges we face.”
In his position as the chief judge of Hennepin County District Court, Swenson has had an influential hand in implementing innovative programs. Drug Court, DWI Court, DWI One-Day Program, Mental Health Court, Veterans Court, Early Case Management/Early Neutral Evaluation are just a few efficient and effective programs implemented with Swenson’s direction. “Hennepin County was constantly looking for ways to improve every aspect of the court system,” said Judge Mary Vasaly. “This is the result of Chief Judge Swenson’s leadership.”
In addition to his judicial duties, Swenson has advocated diligently to preserve adequate court funding.
Swenson attended the University of Minnesota for undergraduate studies and law school. He practiced primarily commercial litigation until taking the bench in 1995.
Tom Fraser is the recipient of the 2011 Professionalism Award for a lawyer. The annual award is presented to a member of the Hennepin County Bar who “best exemplifies the pursuit of the practice of law as a profession, including the spirit of public service and promotion of the highest level of competence, integrity, and ethical conduct.”
“Tom is an outstanding lawyer—an intelligent, thoughtful lawyer who champions for his clients with the highest degree of integrity; a leader who has mentored younger lawyers throughout his career; and a lawyer who believes strongly in his ethical responsibility to give back to the community,” said John Koneck, Fraser’s colleague.
Fraser has demonstrated a strong commitment to the profession. He co-founded the Mediation Center of St. Paul in 1982. He has been a faculty member of the National Institute for Trial Advocacy and the Minnesota Advocacy Institute. He is a fellow of the American College of Trial Lawyers, and a gifted and sought-after arbitrator and mediator.
Fraser has also spent much of his career providing access to justice to the disadvantaged through his work with Volunteer Lawyers Network, Children’s Law Center, the Legal Aid Society, and Call to Justice LLC. He also continues to take numerous cases representing youth in the foster care system.
Fraser graduated from the University of Minnesota and Harvard Law School. Currently, he practices corporate and commercial litigation in both federal and state courts with Fredrickson & Byron.
The Hennepin County Bar Association is the largest of Minnesota’s local bar associations, with a membership of 8,400 members, serving the profession and the public.