Minneapolis (5-22-08): -- 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 2008 Professionalism Awards, presented at the at the Annual Meeting of the HCBA, Thursday, May 22, recognized the Honorable Denise D. Reilly, judge of the 4th Judicial District (Hennepin County) Court, and Leonard Street and Deinard attorney Thomas F. Nelson.
Judge Denise Reilly receives the 2008 Professionalism Award recognizing her devotion to the profession and to the rule of law as well as the independence of the judiciary. Judge Reilly was nominated by Lynn Anderson, General Counsel for the Holiday Companies, who has known her since junior high school and also as a colleague at Lindquist & Vennum. Together they had worked with former Chief Justice Robert Sheran. The former justice had declared that Reilly “had the makings of a first rate judge.” “He was right,” says Anderson.
A graduate of the College of Wooster and the William Mitchell College of Law, Reilly clerked for U.S. District Judge Robert G. Renner before joining the Lindquist & Vennum law firm. She then served as Assistant United States Attorney, Chief of Narcotics and Firearms Section, for eight years prior to being appointed to the bench by Gov. Arne Carlson in 1997. She served over seven years on Juvenile Court bench, including serving as chief judge.
Reilly is an adjunct professor at the University of Minnesota Law School, and has presented at Department of Justice conferences in Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Costa Rica on the topic of children victims and witnesses in human trafficking. She is also involved in a number of civic and community activities, including the Sheltering Arms Foundation, Loaves and Fishes, and House of Prayer. It is with juvenile justice, both in her professional duties and in her civic involvement that the HCBA Professionalism Committee recognized her wide-ranging contribution.
Thomas Nelson is the recipient of the 2008 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.”
Nelson is a graduate of St. Olaf College, Yale University, and the University of Connecticut School of Law. Prior to entering the practice of law, Nelson worked in education. He clerked for Judge Thomas J. Meskill of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit and began his practice with a Connecticut law firm prior before returning to Minnesota. He is a shareholder at the Leonard Street and Deinard law firm. He has characterized his practice as “Door Law,” which he defines as “whatever comes in the door.” His professionalism has been recognized in his work within the legal community in the wider community through his civic involvements.
The Hennepin County Bar Association is the largest of Minnesota’s local bar associations, with a membership of over 8,000 members, serving the profession and the public.