Historic MFIP Increase to Take Effect February 2020

Jessica Webster, Legal Services Advocacy Project

Jessica Webster, Legal Services Advocacy Project

For the first time in 33 years, Minnesota’s most vulnerable will see an increase in their Minnesota Family Investment Program (MFIP) benefit. Minnesota was one of 3 states that hadn’t increased its cash assistance benefit to low-income families since 1986 (Oklahoma and Arizona being the others). The historic increase of $100 per month will take effect in February of next year, thanks in part to the long-standing efforts of Jessica Webster and the Legal Services Advocacy Project (LSAP), Minnesota Coalition for the Homeless, Children’s Defense Fund of Minnesota, other community advocates and bipartisan state legislators.

“Minnesota should reform the program with regular cost-of-living adjustments of 1 or 2% so another couple of decades do not pass without an increase,” said Webster, staff attorney with LSAP.

For more about how Minnesota got here and what is sought for the future, read the full article in the Star Tribune: Minnesota's neediest families to see first MFIP cash increase in 33 years.

Minnesota Pro Bono Lawyers Are National Leaders

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A recent Star Tribune article lauds the dedicated and exemplary work of Minnesota’s pro bono attorneys and explains the activism that led to its strength. Minnesota is leading the country with pro bono stewardship from firms like Faegre Baker Daniels — honored in May by the American Bar Association — Fredrikson & Byron and Dorsey & Whitney, to name a few.

”In 2017, 928 Minnesota lawyers contributed 50 or more hours of pro bono work — more than 106,000 hours,” said Steve Marchese, public service director of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

That spirit of volunteerism and commitment to justice for all is also at the core of the pro bono work being done by Volunteer Lawyers Network, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and the Advocates for Human Rights.

“Our mission is to protect and promote the basic human needs of people in poverty through the power of legal volunteers,” said VLN’s executive director Thomas Walsh.

Read the full article: Minnesota lawyers' dedication to pro bono work has made the state a national leader.

SMRLS' Executive Director Interviewed in Bench & Bar

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In a brief and insightful interview with Bench & Bar of Minnesota, Jessie Nicholson, chief executive officer of Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS), talks about her decision to pursue a legal career and the youthful inspiration that still influences her today. Read Meet Jessie Nicholson: ‘Never forget where you came from.

Free Webinar: Making Effective Referrals Beyond Legal Aid

Earlier this month, State Support held a training for legal services staff who work with intake and make referrals using the new LawHelpMN.org and it’s powerful LOON (Legal Services Online Network) database. One of the training components was a presentation by panelists from four of Minnesota’s newer legal services programs for people who aren’t financially eligible for traditional legal aid services or those needing service beyond the scope of legal aid. This one-hour segment was recorded and is now available as a free webinar for advocates wanting to familiarize themselves with these new programs in order to make more accurate and meaningful referrals.

The webinar includes information on the following organizations: