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Ryan Johnson, Published October 23 2012

Assistant Clay County attorney Lawson appointed to 7th District judgeship

MOORHEAD – A chief assistant Clay County attorney will soon take her place at the bench as the Minnesota 7th Judicial District’s new judge.

Michelle Winkis Lawson was selected by Gov. Mark Dayton on Tuesday from the six finalists vying for the position that opened up when Judge Michael L. Kirk was appointed to the Minnesota Court of Appeals earlier this year.

She has been with the Clay County attorney’s office since 1999, and now serves as the chief assistant attorney for the civil division. In her new role, which she said she expects to start next month, she will primarily be chambered in Clay County. But she said she will travel throughout the 7th Judicial District, which also includes Becker, Benton, Douglas, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Otter Tail, Stearns, Todd and Wadena counties.

Lawson said she’s “very humbled” to be offered the position and looks forward to continuing to work with the Clay County office staff in a new capacity.

“I’m going from the role of advocate to the role of fair and impartial decision-maker,” she said. “I guess what I’m really looking forward to is the new challenge.”

Lawson attended Minnesota State University Moorhead and earned a law degree from the University of North Dakota. Before joining the Clay County attorney’s office, she worked as a professor at the University of Mary in Bismarck and also taught at UND for two years.

Readers can reach Forum reporter Ryan Johnson at (701) 241-5587