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DL native Judge Jay Quam honored with Pro Bono Award

Jay Quam, Detroit Lakes native, left, was honored with the HCBA Pro Bono Publico Award for Excellence for his pro bono work. He is a judge in the Twin Cities. Also given awards for their work were attorneys Jay Wilkinson and Perry Wilson. SUBMITTED PHOTO

Each year, the Hennepin County Bar Association (HCBA) recognizes three attorneys who have made a significant contribution through pro bono service.

The Pro Bono Publico awards are presented to lawyers in recognition of the time, knowledge and devotion given in service to the community. The recipients of the 2014 awards were presented at the 34thannual Bar Benefit on Tuesday, March 11, where family, friends, and colleagues joined together to celebrate, honor, and support the high ideals represented by these individuals.

Attorneys Jay Wilkinson, Perry M. Wilson, and Judge Jay Quam, a Detroit Lakes native, were recognized for their commitment to pro bono service.

Three distinct award categories honor the dedication of volunteer services. The Distinguished Service Award recognizes an individual for career-long volunteer work on behalf of the community and the two Excellence Awards recognize current or recent excellence in service by individuals – one from the private sector and one from the public sector.

Judge Jay Quam is the recipient of the HCBA Pro Bono Publico Award for Excellence by an Attorney in the Public/Government/Judicial Sector.

During his 18-year career at Fredrikson & Byron, Quam was very active in pro bono, averaging over 165 hours per year throughout his career. Quam handled a wide range of cases and provided advice to clients from Volunteer Lawyers Network, Catholic Charities, Legal Access Point, and others. Quam was also on the Board of Directors of Volunteer Lawyers Network and Central Minnesota Legal Services.

Since becoming a judge, Quam obviously could no longer provide legal advice pro bono, but has been supportive of pro bono in every possible way.

His efforts have included frequently speaking to groups about the need for doing pro bono; actively participating in the MSBA’s Civil Gideon Task Force; setting up and participating in CLEs to talk about the need for, and value of, pro bono; being co-chair of the judicial subcommittee of the MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee; recognizing those who do pro bono; and training attorneys who are handling pro bono cases.

Most recently Quam has been working with The Right to Civil Counsel Project led by Tom Tinkham to provide legal representation for individuals in housing court and elsewhere.

Quam has also made extensive efforts to help people understand the workings of the courtroom and courthouse, the plight of the unrepresented, and effective advocacy. To accomplish this, Quam has been involved in numerous educational opportunities for law students, lawyers, other legal groups, and the public.

Quam has organized and presented many sessions with law firms, law schools, and secondary schools. As a reflection of the amount of work Quam has done in legal education, Quam has organized or participated in well over 100 CLEs.

One of the biggest challenges newer lawyers face is in getting experience in the courtroom. To address the need for courtroom experience, Quam has arranged numerous exercises where newer lawyers practice their advocacy skills.

In these realistic exercises, lawyers perform a mock exercise in a courtroom and receive feedback from real judges. These exercises have been available to nearly all lawyers, from bar association groups to Legal Aid lawyers to associates at law firm. Quam has arranged over 50 of these exercises.

Over the last three years Quam also organized a series of visits to the different parts of our court system — called the “Know Your Court” series — with the audience mainly being law students, interns and externs. The purpose of the series is to provide soon-to-be lawyers a realistic view of what actually occurs in the areas so they can make a more informed choice about their area of legal practice.

Quam serves as the coordinator for the HCBA’s “Judicial Ride-along” program that provides lawyers a perspective on the courtroom from the bench, by spending a day shadowing a judge.

Finally, Quam has been extensively involved in training judges. He has developed a number of lunchtime sessions for judges statewide, and has presented on several different topics at several judicial conferences.