Cover Story: Bench & Bar of Minnesota Features LawHelpMN

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This month, the official publication of the Minnesota State Bar Association features an in-depth article on the newly revamped LawHelpMN.org and the impetus in the legal community to create a “no wrong door” resource for civil legal issues statewide. Access to Justice Made Easy (Well, Easier) by Bridget Gernander is the August cover story for Bench & Bar of Minnesota.

In the article, Gernander, program manager of the Legal Services Advisory Committee (LSAC), introduces readers to the defining new feature of the site — the LawHelpMN Guide — explaining how it employs the latest technology to provide built-in legal issue spotting. She also touches on the expanded functionality of the site’s database and its inclusion of new referral services that address provider gaps for modest-income Minnesotans. By describing the path that led to the site’s redevelopment and its aspirational access to justice goal, Gernander encourages adoption of the site as a one-stop referral source, while affirming its relevance and hoped-for impact. Read the full article in Bench & Bar.

LawHelpMN.org Featured in Attorney at Law Magazine

This month’s edition of Attorney at Law magazine includes a concise and instructive overview of the recently relaunched statewide legal website: LawHelpMN: Information and Referral Breakthrough.

The article also offers insights and background on the site’s newest and most innovative tool: the LawHelpMN Guide. The Guide provides users with targeted legal information and referrals based on their answers to guided questions.

“Our goal in developing the Guide was to be flexible, nimble, and responsive,” says Technology Projects Manager Jennifer Singleton. “For example, someone in a family dispute over an estate may think they have a family law problem, but the Guide will jump information strings and direct them to probate law.” Read more in Attorney at Law Magazine.

LawHelpMN Community Outreach Needs You

With the official launch of the freshly re-designed LawHelpMN.org on February 19, State Support staff have been reaching out to justice partners, legal aid and pro bono attorneys and the community at large to educate users about the new statewide website.

On February 22, over 80 people attended a free webinar demonstrating site features and use of the new LawHelpMN Guide navigational assistance tool. The webinar led Congressional staff to request a training for constituent services staff on using LawHelpMN as a referral tool in early April. In-person presentations have been held for 2nd Judicial District Self-Help Center and United Way 2-1-1 staffs. A presentation for Public Library Day is also scheduled for April 12.

State Support welcomes opportunities to talk with staff, pro bono coordinators, partners in social services and court self-help staff who seek a better understanding of how to utilize LawHelpMN.org in their work. We can also provide printed brochures for your own community outreach efforts. Thousands of brochures have already gone out to legal services programs and library and self-help partners. To schedule a training or presentation for your group, or request brochures, contact Emily Good at egood@mnlegalservices.org.

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A New Era Begins: The LawHelpMN Guide Offers Customized Legal Resources and Referrals

The Minnesota Legal Services Coalition, the staff at Legal Services State Support and our website developer, Electric Citizen, are pleased to announce the official launch of the newly redesigned and rebuilt LawHelpMN.org on the Drupal open source, content management platform. Users of LawHelpMN.org will find robustly improved features such as the Self Help Library – a thoughtful compendium of fact sheets, booklets, do-it-yourself forms and other resources – as well as the Provider and Clinics Directory – now powered by a database of referral information updated in real-time.

The defining feature of the new site is its innovative navigational assistance tool: the LawHelpMN Guide (the Guide). Designed to deliver a customized set of self-help resources and referrals that address an individual’s specific legal concern or problem, the Guide generates curated results in response to an individual’s answers to a series of simple questions.  These “guided” questions are intended to narrow a person’s legal topic and, if needed, assess their potential eligibility for services based on a variety of factors including location and income. The LawHelpMN Guide is intuitive and easy to use by either the person seeking information or an attorney, advocate, or anyone assisting them.

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Since the launch of the original LawHelpMN.org over a decade ago, the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition and its State Support office have worked to improve the site’s usefulness and responsiveness as part of our access to justice commitment. The newly redesigned and rebuilt site takes that commitment further than ever before with the adoption of a platform customized to meet a continuum of legal needs and challenges across Minnesota.

“Today’s launch of a re-imagined LawHelpMN.org is a great leap forward in the collaborative and inventive efforts of the civil legal aid, pro bono, and judicial communities to provide continued access to justice in an increasingly accessible and straightforward manner,” Drew Schaffer, Executive Director of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid said. “Already, over 1,000 Minnesotans a day use LawHelpMN.org to understand and to vindicate their most basic of civil rights.  It is our hope that the new and improved site will enable a growing number of Minnesotans to find the legal help and information they need to enforce their rights and to stabilize their lives.”