After 31 years at the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility (“OLPR”) and six years running the office, Martin Cole is retiring and the Minnesota Supreme Court will be establishing a search committee to recommend a replacement.
First off, congratulations and best wishes to Mr. Cole!
Next, what should we look for in a replacement?
I think this is a difficult question, actually.
Some have found fault with the OLPR in recent years for the slow speed of its decision-making. In fact, the OLPR Board-established target that the office have no more than 100 files over one year old has only been met once since 2002.
And the Minnesota Supreme Court took issue with an OLPR decision earlier this year (though that is simply the nature of independent oversight – that the reviewers will, from time to time, disagree with the decision-making under review).
Some have questioned the OLPR as going too easy on lawyers. Some have criticized it for seeming to be harsher on solo/small firm lawyers than big firm lawyers. Many, of course, have felt that the OLPR has been doing yeoman’s work in all respects and, if that is the consensus, presumably continuity rather than change will be the focus.
So, I suppose the first question that the Minnesota Supreme Court and its search committee might consider as it looks for Mr. Cole’s successor is, “How are things going now at the OLPR? How can it be improved, if at all? What skills and experience would the ideal candidate have?” And then the search committee can look for the person in the best position to address areas in need of improvements.
From the OLPR’s recently released Annual Report, here are the goals and objectives for the coming year:
Implementation of the Board’s recommendations to assist the [District Ethics Committees] with recruitment and timely resolution of investigations will be an ongoing project this corning year, which is the final year of current Board Chair Judith Rush’s term. The new Chair may have additional goals for the remainder of the year. Another ongoing project is building a new data and record-keeping system for the OLPR, which will be important to the long-term effectiveness of the system. The speedy processing of complaints, reduction of the overall number of open files, and particularly those matters that are more than a year old and still in investigation remain major goals for the next year.