2004-05 Annual Report
The Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee's charge is to encourage the involvement of lawyers in the delivery of legal assistance through local volunteer attorney programs and to support programs throughout the state that provide civil legal assistance to people who would otherwise be unable to afford such assistance. The MSBA works in a close partnership with volunteer attorney programs and other civil legal services providers throughout Minnesota including the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition. The LAD Committee also works closely with the Courts, the Legislature, other funders, and lawyers throughout the state. LAD’s work is supported by the MSBA’s Access to Justice Director Nancy Mischel and Pro Bono Development Director Caroline Palmer. During the past year key LAD Committee activities included the following:
State Legislature Funding: The MSBA has consistently supported adequate funding for civil legal services in Minnesota by advocating for such funding with members of Minnesota's congressional delegation and with the state legislature. This past session the legislature increased funding for civil legal services by $5 million per year. This critical justice community success was the result of Minnesota’s public/private partnership for legal services funding and bipartisan support. The new money comes from an increase in real estate filing fees, which was supported by the Minnesota Realtors Association.
Judicial District Pro Bono Letters and Pro Bono Awards: Each judicial district in the state has gotten all of their judges to sign a letter encouraging attorneys to do pro bono work. Some of these letters have been sent to the attorneys who practice in the relevant district. The Minnesota Supreme Court has written a similar letter. Efforts to broadly publicize these letters continue. In addition, each judicial district selected at least one attorney to receive a pro bono award. The names of the award winners were printed in the July Bench & Bar.
Technology Planning Grant: LAD formed a subcommittee to look at technology needs at the smaller, non-coalition legal services programs. As a result, MVAP is submitting a grant request in September 2005 to LSAC to fund a technology planning process for the non-MLSC programs.
ProJusticeMN.org (formerly Probono.net/mn): LAD members are very involved in upgrading this state website for pro bono and legal aid attorneys. A usability survey was conducted in 2004 and suggested changes are being implemented. The Directory of Pro Bono Opportunities for Attorneys is now entirely online and consists of a database searchable by area of law, type of client, and geographic area. New resources have been added to the libraries and the calendar of CLE events.
Bernard P. Becker Awards: The LAD Committee sought and screened
applications for the Bernard P. Becker Legal Services Staff and Volunteer
Law Student Awards. The most recent awards were presented at the MSBA's
April 2005 Assembly meeting.
Legal Services State Planning Commission: Many LAD members served on this Supreme-Court appointed Commission, which finished its work at the end of December, 2004. The Court has appointed a new State Planning Committee to continue to Commission’s work and specifically to help implement the recommendations of the Commission.
Pro Bono Recruitment at Large Firms and Large Companies: In February 2005, LAD Co-Chairs Tom Conlin and Katie Trotzky sent a letter and LAD business cards to the managing partners at the 50 largest firms in Minnesota, as well as to corporate counsel at the 20 largest companies in Minnesota. The letter encouraged pro bono efforts within the firm/company, following up on an earlier letter and luncheon in 2004.
CLE Credit for Pro Bono: LAD formed a new subcommittee to develop a proposal for Minnesota and explore what other states have done in this area. This work will continue into the next year.
LAD Presence at MSBA Convention: LAD sponsored a reception at the MSBA Convention at Madden’s Resort in June 2005. The event was well-attended and attendees received information on pro bono opportunities.
Minnesota CLE “Toolkit for Advising the Disadvantaged”: LAD staff Caroline Palmer and Nancy Mischel tabled this all-day CLE on February 15, 2005, talking to attendees about different pro bono opportunities and providing information.
LAD Marketing: LAD ads are being run in Bench & Bar every month for one year; these ads began in March 2005. LAD notecards and posterboards of the LAD ads were developed and are being distributed and used in various forums. LAD postcards were printed and these will be mailed to all MSBA members in September 2005.
LAD Website: Work continued on development of the LAD website.
Katie Trotzky and Tom Conlin, 2004-05 Co-Chairs
- Posted 9/8/05 -