Minnesota Pro Bono Lawyers Are National Leaders

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A recent Star Tribune article lauds the dedicated and exemplary work of Minnesota’s pro bono attorneys and explains the activism that led to its strength. Minnesota is leading the country with pro bono stewardship from firms like Faegre Baker Daniels — honored in May by the American Bar Association — Fredrikson & Byron and Dorsey & Whitney, to name a few.

”In 2017, 928 Minnesota lawyers contributed 50 or more hours of pro bono work — more than 106,000 hours,” said Steve Marchese, public service director of the Minnesota State Bar Association.

That spirit of volunteerism and commitment to justice for all is also at the core of the pro bono work being done by Volunteer Lawyers Network, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and the Advocates for Human Rights.

“Our mission is to protect and promote the basic human needs of people in poverty through the power of legal volunteers,” said VLN’s executive director Thomas Walsh.

Read the full article: Minnesota lawyers' dedication to pro bono work has made the state a national leader.

MMLA, ILCM, and Advocates Provide Representation to Hennepin County Residents Facing Deportation

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Hennepin County is now one of only a few regional jurisdictions to fund legal representation of its residents in deportation proceedings. This past summer a new legal defense fund was established by Hennepin County in cooperation with three nonprofit organizations. The grant and the participating organizations — Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (MMLA), Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota (ILCM) and the Advocates for Human Rights (Advocates) — aim to provide universal representation to immigration defendants regardless of the merits of their case. Preference is given to people who were transferred from the Hennepin County jail to Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) custody.

Speaking to the Star Tribune, Peggy Russell, managing attorney with MMLA said, “Many immigrants who are placed in removal proceedings are lawful permanent residents who pay taxes and are at risk of extended detention and separation from their families.” She also noted studies emphasizing the rate of success for immigrants with legal representation in establishing a right to stay in the United States.

Read more at MPR News.

Innovations for Clients: LOON Takes Flight

Legal Organizations Online Network: LOON

Legal Organizations Online Network: LOON

By Betsy Parrell, Supervising Attorney

Starting today, staff from sixteen Minnesota legal services organizations are working toward better coordination and referrals through access to a new online tool: LOON (Legal Organizations Online Network).

As an integral part of the LawHelpMN.org rebuild project, LOON is a password-protected, online database developed to house up-to-date information about legal services available across Minnesota.  Service listings in the database include information about case types and priorities, case acceptance guidelines, clinics, and eligibility criteria. 

LOON aims to improve client referrals by enabling legal services providers to make more accurate referrals amongst each other through access to detailed, real-time data. LOON will also power the referral information that will be available to everyone on the new LawHelpMN.org, once launched.  In addition, because of LOON, staff at individual organizations no longer need to maintain and update their own legal services referral information, which can easily fall out-of-date.  

The organizations currently participating in LOON are:

  • Anishinabe Legal Services

  • Central Minnesota Legal Services

  • Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota

  • Judicare of Anoka County

  • Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota

  • Legal Assistance of Dakota County

  • Legal Assistance of Olmsted County

  • Legal Rights Center

  • Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, Inc.

  • Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid

  • Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services

  • Standpoint

  • The Advocates for Human Rights

  • Tubman

  • Volunteer Attorney Program

  • Volunteer Lawyers Network

These sixteen organizations have password access to LOON, and the ability to update and maintain their own service listings.  For organizations that do not currently have password access such as specialty legal service providers, law libraries, court-based self-help services, bar association referral programs, and community mediation State Support will gradually add their services to LOON and coordinate with them to maintain and update their listings.

State Support is grateful for the expertise shared by staff members of the sixteen participating organizations. Their feedback was used to guide the development of LOON’s technical infrastructure and user interface. Staff from these organizations also worked diligently to update and verify the accuracy of their listings in anticipation of LOON’s launch today. Additionally, over 100 individuals at these organizations registered for trainings offered by State Support on how to search service listings, in order to be prepared to use LOON effectively to make referrals.

Continued coordination and communication will be critical to LOON’s success. Staff members from the participating organizations will need to communicate with each other, and with State Support, to ensure that the accuracy and quality of information in LOON, and the tool itself, can continue to improve. Working together, we can make LOON a robust, reliable tool that helps all of us better serve client needs across the legal services delivery system.