The 2017 Legal Services Statewide Conference: Connecting With Our Community was the ideal setting in which to recognize the achievements and commitment of outstanding legal advocates across Minnesota.
On October 26, the statewide awards dinner provided an evening of inspiration and celebration as conference attendees and guests gathered to honor their peers. Emcees Anne Hoefgen, executive director of Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, and Dori Streit, executive director of Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota read handwritten "shout-outs" throughout the evening. These "shout-outs" were an ad-hoc and anonymous way for any conference participant to publicly share acknowledgement and gratitude for a colleague.
The evening included the presentation of LSNM's longstanding Dawn Carlson Family Advocacy Award, open to all Minnesota attorneys, and given in appreciation of the unsung heroes of law practice who serve low-income clients. It was awarded to Douglas Hegg of Hegg Law Office, a solo practitioner in Alexandria, MN. During the past 15 years, Hegg has represented more than 450 low-income clients through LSNM's judicare and pro bono programs.
Also honored were Maureen O'Connell of O’Connell Consulting, LLC and former executive director of the Legal Services Advocacy Project and Legal Services State Support, and Cathy Haukedahl, recently retired executive director of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. Haukedahl and O'Connell were presented with the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition's Pillar of Justice Award in recognition of their undeterred and exceptional support of equal justice throughout their careers.
Legal services staff members marking a quarter century of service were also recognized, and staff in various stages of their tenures were asked to stand and be applauded, including those new to the field. The ceremony concluded on an uplifting note with a screening of the Coalition-produced video about legal aid's impact.