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

MMLA logo Small.jpg

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.

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.

Legal Aid Speaks Out On Screening Inaccuracies Affecting Minneapolis Renters

MMLA logo Small.jpg

Luke Grundman, managing attorney with Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and other tenant advocates, have been working toward solutions to the affordable housing shortage in Minneapolis. They’re asking policymakers to overhaul the current tenant screening process, which frequently blocks low-income renters from finding an apartment. Inaccuracies about criminal records, credit history and evictions in a tenant’s screening report, for example, can mean the difference between getting an apartment or not. And fixing a mistake with one tenant screening agency doesn’t automatically resolve it with other agencies.

“It puts a lot of weight on the consumer or tenants to dispute reports, and a lot of tenants don’t have the time to do that,” Grundman said. “Their application has been denied and they’re waiting for this investigation to be conducted. … There’s no incentive for tenant screening organizations to get it right in the first place.” Read more in the Star Tribune.

LSAP Plays Central Role in Crafting Landmark Law to Protect Older and Vulnerable Adults

MMLA logo Small.jpg

After nearly two years of tireless work and advocacy, the Legal Services Advocacy Project (LSAP), along with other seniors’ advocates, state agencies, and assisted living providers, crafted landmark legislation that was enacted into law during the 2019 session.  It puts in place strong consumer protections against arbitrary discharges of, and retaliation against, older and vulnerable adults living in assisted living facilities.  It provides for appeals of discharges, and requires extensive planning to ensure necessary moves are conducted seamlessly and residents are transferred to safe and appropriate locations.  It dramatically expands public oversight of the state’s senior care industry by requiring that, beginning in August 2021, Minnesota’s assisted-living facilities must be licensed, as nursing homes currently are. 

"Minnesota is the only state that does not license assisted-living facilities," said Ron Elwood, supervising attorney of the Legal Services Advocacy Project, one of the leaders of a coalition of consumer groups that worked on the 168-page bill. 

The state Department of Health will now engage in an expedited rulemaking process that will add additional regulatory detail to the new comprehensive statute. Read more in the Star Tribune.