Study Shows How Legal Aid Secures Millions of Dollars for Minnesota Annually

The Minnesota Legal Services Coalition has released a report to inform policy makers and other stakeholders about the economic benefits of civil legal aid in Minnesota. This study, based on 2014 data, shows that legal aid programs have generated nearly $112 million in revenue. This amount is comprised of both retained and new federal benefits, protected and new non-governmental dollars, as well as avoided costs from domestic violence and homelessness.

In addition, legal aid staff attorneys spent approximately 350,000 hours on direct representation valued at $70.8 million in legal services provided to clients. In-kind revenue of pro bono representation represents nearly $33 million in donated legal time.

For every $1.00 spent on Legal Aid the return on investment is $3.94.

Legal aid provides direct service to all 87 Minnesota communities and has been a trusted provider of high-quality legal advocacy for low-income Minnesota for years. Legal aid focuses on resolving civil legal matters that directly affect the basic human needs for safety, shelter, and household sustenance.

The Legal Aid St. Cloud office, for example, closed more than 3,500 cases in 2015 on issues including consumer fraud, housing, immigration, and family law.

Saint Cloud attorney Brent Thompson and paralegal Heather Helmer worked with Andrea who had six children, ages five to fifteen, and was living in a battered women’s shelter in California after fleeing an abusive husband in Minnesota. Legal Aid told her they would take her case. Once home, a restraining order was put into place for her husband. Andrea enrolled at Bethel University, took two part-time jobs, and got her kids back in school. “Legal help at that crucial time can give people their freedom," Andrea reflects. “My life is as it should be because of the help I got from Legal Aid. There are other lives like mine out there, waiting to be changed.”

Read the full Economic Impact Report.