Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota Developing and Fostering the Highest Standards of Excellence and Professionalism in the Administration of Justice and the Art of Advocacy. Learn More    View Our Members

The Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers is a non-profit organization that is dedicated to bettering the quality of trial advocacy in our nation’s courtrooms and assisting the consumer of legal services in finding experienced and highly qualified trial lawyers.

The Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota was established in 1982. Its members are attorneys who have been certified by the National Board of Trial Advocates ( or by the Minnesota State Bar Association ( as specialists in civil or criminal trial law.

About the ACTLM

ACTLM’s annual meeting is generally held in the fall. It includes a social gathering and a dinner featuring a key note speaker. There is also a mid-year meeting in the spring accompanied by a continuing legal education program.

There commonly are other social gatherings during the year and from time to time a winter trip with CLE included. Check out our Upcoming Events!

Standing committees of ACTLM include the Judicial Endorsement Committee, which considers requests of judicial candidates for ACTLM endorsement, and the Distinguished Jurist Award committee, which identifies and recommends to the Board a judge to receive the organization’s annual recognition.

ACTLM’s Stated Purpose

  • Educating lawyers, judges and student concerning all phases of civil and criminal trial practice, particularly as it effects the rights, liabilities, and duties of the public;
  • Furnishing to other lawyers and judges legal and practical information on all phases of civil and criminal litigation relating to trial preparation and trial;
  • Arranging for seminars and other educational meetings for lawyers and judges;
  • Sponsoring informal opportunities in the form of meetings to be attended by lawyers, judges and law students as a vehicle for discussing common practical legal problems, attaining growth and expertise in the process, and sharing the problems occasioned by the experience; and
  • Monitoring and analyzing current procedural and substantive law proposals and issues and, where appropriate, asserting public position or statements on such issues.

ACTLM Eligibility

Eligibility for certification by the National Board of Trial Advocates or the Minnesota State Bar Association generally requires successful testing, peer review from lawyers and judges, and documentation of relevant experience.

The legal specialist certification programs measure a lawyer’s expertise in the specialty area. In Minnesota, although many lawyers limit their practice areas, only lawyers who successfully complete the application process and continue to meet all program standards may call themselves Board Certified Specialists.

Currently there are 335 certified civil trial specialists, or about 25% of the Minnesota Bar Association Civil Trial Section. Civil and criminal trial specialists comprise approximately one-tenth of one percent of all Minnesota licensed attorneys.

Committee News

Select an article below to read more.

2019 Minnesota State High School Mock Trial Program
October 20, 2018

A very special thank you to our members making donations to the MSBA Mock Trial Scholarship Program.  Your generosity is greatly appreciated and contributes to an extremely worthwhile cause. Contributors:…

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ACTLM Members Donate $2,000 to the Minnesota State High School Mock Trial Program
October 19, 2018

The Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota for 2018 committed as part of its scholarship, membership and public relations committees to sponsor the Minnesota mock trial program that is…

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2018 Judicial Endorsements
October 19, 2018

ACADEMY OF CERTIFIED TRIAL LAWYERS OF MINNESOTA ISSUES JUDICIAL ENDORSEMENTS Bruce Rivers, Dean of the Academy of Certified Trial Lawyers of Minnesota (ACTLM), announced the following endorsement decisions for the…

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2018 Distinguished Jurist Award
October 18, 2018

The Honorable Ann D. Montgomery

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2017 Distinguished Jurist Award
November 1, 2017

Judge Salvador Rosas Appointed by Governor Rudy Perpich on October 8, 1990.  Elected in 1992, 2004 and 2010.  Retired in 2016.  Appointed to serve statewide as a a Senior Judge…

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2016 ACTLM Judicial Endorsement
October 5, 2016

The 2016 ACTLM Judicial Endorsement Committee has endorsed the following candidates for the November general election: Minnesota Supreme Court: Natalie Hudson Third Judicial District, Court 9: Pamela A.W. King Third…

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2016 ACTLM Distinguished Jurist Honoree
January 1, 2016

Judge John Q. McShane Judge John Q. McShane served as Hennepin County District Judge until his retirement in March 2016.  He was appointed to the Court in 1998 and elected to…

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2015 ACTLM Distinguished Jurist Honoree
November 1, 2015

Justice Alan C. Page

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2014 ACTLM Distinguished Jurist Honoree
November 1, 2014

Judge Gregg E. Johnson

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