November marked the Minnesota Justice Foundation's (MJF) Annual Awards Celebration at International Market Square in Minneapolis. Every year since 1991, MJF has honored the work of public interest attorneys, private pro bono attorneys, advocates, and law students whose commitment to service shines as a beacon of hope and embodies the very best of our profession.
The 2017 award winner for Outstanding Service by a Direct Legal Service Attorney is Kathy Eveslage, staff attorney with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS), St. Paul.
Kathy joined St. Cloud Area Legal Services in 1982 as a paralegal working on family and elder law issues. She moved to the Twin Cities and went to law school, all the while continuing to work at Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services in St. Paul.
For the past 33 years at SMRLS, Kathy has specialized in handling cases for low-income and needy elderly people. She developed expertise handling appeals for elders who were denied personal care assistance, which allows them to stay in their homes. Kathy also has developed expertise in dealing with abusive debt collection practices. She has served her profession through her activities at the Minnesota State Bar Association, as a member of the Governing Council for 14 years.
Kathy loves to travel, and enjoys photography, reading and karaoke. She thanks all of her fellow legal aid colleagues from whom she has learned so much. She extends special thanks to Steve Wolf, Greg Marita, and Laura Orr.
This year's Advocate Award went to Bridget Gernander, Legal Services Grant program manager with the Minnesota Judicial Branch. Bridget began her career after law school as an Equal Justice Fellow working to expand MJF’s network of volunteer opportunities including its first ever volunteer spring break trips and pre-orientation projects.
In the words of her nominator “no single individual in the state of Minnesota has done more to encourage and expand services to the disadvantaged than Bridget. Because of her role on the legal services advisory committee, and her highly collaborative and humble nature, she is often out of the spotlight however, and does not seek the sort of recognition she deserves." Thanks to Bridget, Minnesota has a reputation as a cutting-edge state with a well-run, innovative, client-focused civil legal aid funding system.
MJF's other awards for outstanding service went to the following deserving individuals:
- Private Practice Lawyer Award: Rebecca Schiller, The Academy Law Group, P.A.
- Law Student Award Winners: Lora Fike, Mitchell Hamline School of Law; Nicole Faas, University of Minnesota Law School; Melissa Bumanglag, University of St. Thomas School of Law.