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Judicial Appointments News

Governor Walz Appoints Laura Thomas to Fill Fourth Judicial District Vacancy

5/14/2020 10:57:15 AM

ST. PAUL, MN – Today, Governor Tim Walz announced the appointment of Ms. Laura Thomas as a District Court Judge in Minnesota’s Fourth Judicial District. Ms. Thomas will fill the vacancy occurring upon the retirement of the Honorable Ivy S. Bernhardson. She will be chambered in Minneapolis in Hennepin County.

“Laura Thomas is exceptionally qualified, with a deep understanding of the law and its impact on Minnesotans,” said Governor Walz. “I’m grateful for Chief Judge Bernhardson’s service to her community and wish her well in retirement.”

“Ms. Thomas is a nationally-recognized legal expert with a long history of service to Minnesotans, including our most vulnerable and under-represented,” said Lt. Governor Peggy Flanagan. “Not only does she use her role to stand up for families who need it most, she has instilled these values in her students, building classes of legal professionals who will fight for Minnesota families. She will serve the Fourth Judicial District well.”

About Laura Thomas:

Ms. Thomas currently serves as a Clinical Professor of Law and Director of Law Clinics at the University of Minnesota Law School. In her role as Clinical Professor, she has been instrumental in designing Law in Practice, a lawyering skills program at the Law School, for which she co-authored a nationally recognized textbook and which she teaches annually. She also supervises and mentors student attorneys who represent indigent and working poor individuals through the Law Clinic program. Ms. Thomas has expanded the reach of the clinic to serve under-represented populations in a larger segment of Minnesota, and she created a new clinic specifically addressing legal issues involving families. Previously, Ms. Thomas clerked for Judges Harlan Nelson and Thomas Stringer in Otter Tail County then joined private practice. Ms. Thomas’s community involvement includes serving as a block club leader, being an active member of Minneapolis Uptown Rotary, and volunteering at Joyce Food Shelf.

Ms. Thomas received her B.A. from University of St. Thomas and her J.D. from Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

For more information about the judicial selection process, please visit our website:

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