Mayor and Local Housing Advocates Launch "More Representation Minneapolis"

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The Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA), along with a group of twelve area law firms, have joined forces to combat the growing problem of unrepresented litigants in housing court. Their initiative - More Representation Minneapolis - will bring an increased cohort of pro bono attorneys to the aid of low-income tenants in eviction defense and rent escrow/tenant remedy actions in 2019. VLN and MMLA will anchor the More Representation Minneapolis project, which has a short-term goal of adding 25 additional attorneys to VLN’s network, and increasing their housing representation work by 20 percent.

Minneapolis Mayor Jacob Frey said the project will help prevent unfair evictions by utilizing the existing resources in our legal community, and it dovetails with the $150,000 in his 2019 proposed city budget to launch a pilot project to fund legal services for low-income renters facing displacement.

Speaking to the Star Tribune, Luke Grundman, managing attorney of the housing unit at MMLA, said, “People have nowhere to go. If you have an eviction on your record, it’s almost impossible [to find housing].”

Read more about More Representation Minneapolis in the Minnesota Lawyer.

Disability Law Center Deputy Director Featured in Minnesota Lawyer

Pamela Hoopes

Pamela Hoopes

This summer Minnesota Lawyer announced its 2018 Diversity & Inclusion honorees as part of its commitment to diversity in our judicial system. Honorees were named in legacy, individual and group categories.

During the month of October, the magazine will celebrate the contributions of these recipients by featuring them individually. Currently featured in the individual category is honoree Pamela Hoopes, deputy director/legal director of the Minnesota Disability Law Center (MDLC) of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid.

Hoopes’ contributions to diversity and inclusion span 20 years, during which she has championed the rights of disabled Minnesotans, primarily by helping them gain access to the courts. She supervises MDLC’s legal work, in addition to lending her experience as a trainer on disability law. Read more about Hoopes in Minnesota Lawyer.

CMLS and MMLA Add Perspective to Prospect of Funding Cuts

Minnesota Lawyer recently reached out to Central Minnesota Legal Services (CMLS) and Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA) for a feature about community concern over the prospect of funding cuts to legal aid.

Commenting on the income disparities legal aid lawyers face, as well as the challenges in retention for programs, Cathy Haukedahl, executive director of MMLA, said: “If we can make some improvement where we are a little more competitive, we would have more retention. That would benefit our clients and most of our folks would be happy to stay because they love the work they do.” The hope is that a small boost in state funding would make this possible.

At the same time, for programs like CMLS, the prospect of losing funding from the federal Legal Services Corporation (LSC), could have a dramatic impact. Executive director Jean Lastine noted, "There wouldn’t be an immediate shutdown or anything but we’d probably lose half our lawyers." While concerned, she pointed out it is not the first funding crisis legal aid programs have faced.  Read the full article.

Minnesota Lawyer Names Unsung Heroes, Up & Coming Attorneys

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid - Saint Cloud Staff Honored

Diane Liebrenz, legal secretary with MMLA - Saint Cloud, has been selected as an Unsung Legal Hero by Minnesota Lawyer.  The Unsung Legal Heroes award honors law firm employees who consistently go above and beyond the call of duty, often behind the scenes. This award is reserved for the state’s most talented and dedicated legal support professionals.

Riann Meyer, staff attorney with MMLA - Saint Cloud, has been named an Up & Coming Attorney by Minnesota Lawyer. The Up & Coming Attorneys recognition highlights lawyers in their first 10 years of practice who have already distinguished themselves by their achievements. The criteria for selection are: professional accomplishment, leadership service to the community and the profession, or achievement as in-house counsel.

Both groups were nominated by colleagues, supervisors and peers, and chosen by a panel of prior winners of the relevant award. This year both groups will be recognized together at a lunch event Sept. 10th at the Hyatt Regency in downtown Minneapolis. Minnesota Lawyer will publish a special section Sept. 14 profiling the honorees. See the list of all honorees.