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.

Judge Susan Miles to Close Statewide Conference With Session on Mindfulness at Work

Senior Judge Susan Miles

Senior Judge Susan Miles

In just four weeks registration will officially open for the 2019 Legal Services Statewide Conference: Addressing Disparity: A Way Forward. Running from Wednesday evening, October 23, through noon Friday, October 25, conference sessions will explore the effects of racial, economic and other disparities on our clients and ourselves.

The Honorable Susan Miles will deliver Friday’s closing plenary session, Mindful Ways to Relax at Work and Keep Your Wits About You. Judge Miles is a Senior Judge, retired in 2018 from the Tenth Judicial District Court.

Her address to the legal services community will focus on bringing mindfulness to work. This session will be a thoughtful closing to a conference full of deep thinking about racial justice and other challenges facing legal services staff and clients. Judge Miles will provide tips on how to increase concentration and calm, and rise above the temptation to react to pervasive distractions in our personal and professional lives, through demonstration of effective use of breathing techniques and intentional pauses. Based on her own professional experience, she will discuss how mindfulness practices can enhance emotional and physical resilience, improve cognitive functioning, and connect us more positively to other people.

Judge Miles was elected to the Tenth Judicial District Court in 1996 and was chambered in Washington County until she retired in 2018.  Judge Miles served as president of Minnesota Women Lawyers, the Minnesota District Judges Association and the Minnesota District Judges Foundation, and as Assistant Chief Judge of the Tenth Judicial District of Minnesota, chair of the Washington County Bench.  An active meditation practitioner for over 13 years, she has been qualified by the University of Massachusetts Medical School to teach Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction, which she teaches at the University of Minnesota.  Her current business efforts are aimed at helping legal professionals connect with a sense of inner calm and clarity and she has presented to dozens of legal groups on the topic of bringing mindfulness to work.

Judge Miles joins two other featured presenters for this year’s conference: Resmaa Menakem, keynote speaker and trainer on Thursday, and Emily Baxter, kick-off presenter on Wednesday. Registration for the 2019 Legal Services Statewide Conference officially opens on Wednesday, September 4th!

Legal Aid's Board President Offers Perspective on LawHelpMN.org

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In a special feature to the July edition of Minnesota Lawyer, Sara G. McGrane, president of the Board of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid and president of Felhaber Larson, writes compellingly about how the redesigned LawHelpMN.org offers a creative approach to the justice gap in the state.

In her article, Offering access to justice for all, she likens the site, and specifically the new Guide tool, to a GPS style navigation system for legal needs. “The Guide’s logic tree streamlines the data based on the user’s answers, and soft factors gauge which kind of help is the best match.” With the new Guide tool, a LawHelpMN user is able to find a very direct pathway to customized legal information and referrals based on their specific issue and location.

McGrane writes, “I hope my fellow attorneys will venture to the website and familiarize themselves with the guide. It’s an important statewide resource, and it will help us make headway in providing fair and equitable access to the legal system for all Minnesotans.”

To read the full article, log on at Minnesota Lawyer.

LAOC's Eviction Prevention Project Gets Boost from Collaborators

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Winner of a 2018 Mayo Clinic Shared Value Award, the Eviction Prevention Project of Legal Assistance of Olmsted County (LAOC) is continuing its work in the community thanks to additional funding and the help of partners.

The project, which holds clinics on Mondays and Thursdays at the Olmsted County courthouse, offers free legal help to people in court facing eviction. Thanks to a newly awarded grant from Mayo for LAOC’s overall work, a portion will be used to staff the evictions clinic, with help from attorneys with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS), and members of the Mayo Clinic legal team, who are serving in a pro bono capacity. IBM attorneys are also contributing to the effort.

As of June 1, 90 of the 207 eviction cases scheduled at the Olmsted County courthouse received help from the evictions clinic. “This is what a legal aid organization needs to be doing,” said Karen Fairbairn Nath, executive director of LAOC. “There are so many people who are living one crisis from not being able to pay their landlord,” she said. Read more.