Pro Bono Attorney Got Her Start at Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid

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Now an employment law associate at Best & Flanagan, LLP, Ashleigh Leitch credits her early experiences with Legal Aid in Willmar and the Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC) as crucial to her awareness of disparity and her commitment to justice.

Her inspiring story and subsequent work are featured in this month’s Attorney at Law Magazine Minnesota. In Getting It Done For Legal Aid, by Leykn Schmatz, Leitch recalls the guidance she received from deputy director Ann Cofell and how her work with clients changed her mind and heart. “Working at Legal Aid in my hometown helped me to recognize my privilege,” says Leitch.

Today Leitch is more committed than ever in supporting the mission of Legal Aid. After several years as a firm captain in The Fund for Legal Aid’s Associates’ Campaign, she joined the co-chair team last year. “The private bar needs to pick up as much funding and pro bono work as we can. We all took the same oath, we’re in it together, and we need to do our part to support Legal Aid. It’s our obligation.” Read the full article.

SMRLS' CEO Explains Why LawHelpMN is a Boon for the Legal Aid Community

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The September edition of the Ramsey County Bar Association’s (RCBA) Barrister Newsletter includes a feature by Jessie Nicholson, chief executive officer of Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, in which she writes about the importance of LawHelpMN.org as a singular and comprehensive resource for civil legal issues in Minnesota.

In her article, A Boon for the Legal Aid Community: The New LawHelpMN.org (page 4), Nicholson focuses on the site’s primary functions, and notably, its newest tool, the LawHelpMN Guide. Created to give users a custom experience, the Guide matches them with the most relevant legal information and referrals based on their specific question, circumstances, and location.

“The staff here at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) have enthusiastically embraced the new LawHelpMN and are involved firsthand in making sure information about our services at SMRLS is up-to-date, accurate, and immediately available, ensuring that those who need us can find us. As a nonprofit we are sometimes limited in the services we can provide. LawHelpMN’s Provider and Clinics Directory puts targeted referrals and specific information about other organizations at our fingertips.”

Registration Now Open for 2019 Legal Services Statewide Conference

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State Support is excited to announce that registration opens today for the 2019 Legal Services Statewide Conference—Addressing Disparity: A Way Forward. The conference will be held Wednesday, October 23 to Friday, October 25, 2019 at Arrowwood Resort and Conference Center in Alexandria, MN. Conference participants can expect to learn about the effects of racial, economic, and other disparities on our clients and ourselves and how to address them in our professional and personal lives. Attendees can earn up to 10.5 hours of Minnesota CLE credit, including up to 5 hours of elimination of bias and 1 hour of ethics credit.

The conference officially kicks-off on Wednesday evening, October 23, with special guest Emily Baxter, founder and executive director of We Are All Criminals (WAAC), a non-profit organization and storytelling project that challenges perceptions of what it means to be “criminal.” Emily’s session will be a conversation about crime, privilege, punishment, and second chances. One in four people in the US has a criminal record; four in four have a criminal history. Through stories, statutes, and statistics, we’ll examine the disparate impact of the criminal and juvenile justice systems on people of color and poor people across the country.

Resmaa Menakem, noted author, international speaker, and justice coach will deliver Thursday morning’s keynote address, in which he’ll discuss and define the theory of racialized trauma. He will share theory and insights on how historical, inter-generational, persistent institutional and personal inequities have impacted each of us and led to a decontextualized and internalized white body supremacy trauma we all carry in our bodies and unknowingly perpetuate in our culture. A break-out session on somatic-body practices and tools for confronting common historical and racial myths will follow the opening session.

Another highlight of this year's conference will be Friday morning’s closing plenary by the Honorable Susan Miles. In her session, Mindful Ways to Relax at Work and Keep Your Wits About You, Judge Miles will discuss bringing mindfulness to work, along with tips on how to increase concentration and calm, and rise above the temptation to react to the pervasive distractions in our professional and personal worlds.

To register for the conference, and find out more about breakout sessions, speakers, and social activities, visit our conference page and click on the Register tab. Then, just select your participant type. We expect this to be the most attended conference in our history, so register early as space is limited! See you at Arrowwood!

AARP and Pollen Name Jessie Nicholson to Their 50 Over 50 List for 2019

AARP Minnesota and Pollen invite you to meet their 2019 50 Over 50 honorees — 50 Minnesota leaders over 50 who are writing their own rules about aging. These incredible individuals are making an impact in many ways—driving the engines of opportunity in the business world, creating art and helping others do the same, affecting change in their communities, and finding new ways to upend the status quo as leaders in their work and fighters against the tired stereotypes around aging. For the fourth consecutive year, AARP and Pollen are proud to honor these leaders.

Among this year’s honorees is Jessie Nicholson, chief executive officer of Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services. Nicholson was recognized in the Nonprofit category as a “Rights Defender” and her work protecting the civil and legal rights of low-income Minnesotans for over 35 years is highlighted. She and her fellow honorees will be celebrated at the McNamara Alumni Center on Thursday, October 17.

The 50 Over 50 list celebrates and recognizes Minnesotans over the age of 50 who have made significant contributions and achievements in their communities. People from across Minnesota visited 50Over50MN.org to nominate leaders in their community in one of five categories: arts & culture, nonprofit, business, community building, and disruption. A transparent cohort of distinguished peers then took on the near impossible task of narrowing down the list to fifty of the most inspiring and accomplished leaders from across the state.