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Thomas F. Nelson Becomes 96th President of the HCBA
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NEWS RELEASE: June 24, 2014

Minneapolis: -- Thomas F. Nelson becomes the 96th president of the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) on July 1. Nelson is a partner at Stinson Leonard Street, where he handles professional liability matters, particularly claims and business strategy involving engineers and architects.

Nelson grew up in Bloomington and attended St. Olaf College where he received his bachelor’s degree in philosophy. Next, he graduated from Yale with a master’s degree in theological studies. He then attended the University of Connecticut School of Law, graduating in 1977.

Before practicing law, Nelson was a founder, teacher, and administrator of an innovative public high school in New Haven, Conn., called High School in the Community. After graduating from law school, Nelson served two terms as a law clerk for Judge Thomas J. Meskill of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit, which hears cases in New York City. Nelson returned to Minnesota in 1983, along with his wife, the Honorable Susan Richard Nelson. He first worked at the Popham Haik law firm, and then joined Leonard, Street and Deinard in 1997.

Nelson has had a long history of service to the bar. He is a fellow of the American Bar Foundation and remains actively engaged with the American Bar Association, the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Hennepin County Bar Foundation, and the Federal Bar Association. At the HCBA, he served as chair of the Bar Memorial Committee for several years, as well as being active as a member of the Bench and Bar Committee and Diversity Committee. Nelson received the Professionalism Award from the HCBA in 2008, an award presented annually to a member "who best exemplifies the pursuit of the practice of law as a profession, including a spirit of public service and promotion of the highest possible level of competence, integrity and ethical conduct.”

Recently, Nelson travelled with the Minnesota State Bar Association delegation that met with the National Union of Cuban Jurists on a one-week trip to Cuba. He has been active in a wide variety of community services also, and – concurrent with his bar presidency – will serve as chair of the board of the American Swedish Institute.

Nelson will place his emphasis during the year on building gateways and bridges between the community, the courts, other bar associations, and the many facets of the practicing bar. His own experience with and enthusiasm for the profession will guide him in leading the association and its 8,300 members. 


Newly-elected HCBA Secretary Thaddeus Lightfoot joins the HCBA’s Executive Committee, beginning the five-year leadership track (to serve as president for 2017-18).  Nicole Kettwick serves on the Executive Committee for a one-year term as she chairs the New Lawyers Section for the coming year. 

Serving on the 2014-2015 Executive Committee of the Hennepin County Bar Association are:

President: Tom Nelson, Stinson Leonard Street
President-elect: Kim Lowe, Fredrikson & Byron
Treasurer: Paul Floyd, Wallen-Friedman & Floyd

Secretary: Thaddeus Lightfoot, Dorsey & Whitney
Past President: Eric Cooperstein, Law Office of Eric T. Cooperstein

New Lawyers Section Chair: Nicole Kettwick, Brandt Criminal Law Defense


The Hennepin County Bar Association is a professional society representing over 8,300 area attorneys with a wide variety of services for the community and the profession.  The association strives to ensure the fairness and accessibility of the legal system by promoting public understanding and confidence in our system of justice and by working along with the courts to improve the administration of justice.


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