Meeting Minutes 2003 - 2006
MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee (LAD)
May 9, 2006
Attending in Person: Tom Conlin (Co-Chair), Katie Trotzky (Co-Chair),
Roger Stageberg, Theresa Hughes, Ed Cassidy, Bricker Lavik, Jim Baillie, Roy
Ginsburg, Mary Durand, Brad Thorsen, Tom Walsh, Sue Pontinen, Michael Friedman,
Alysia Zens, Peter B. Knapp, Lloyd Zimmerman, Sara Sommarstrom, David Lund,
Barb Lindberg, Maureen O'Connell, Clare Scott, Joe Dixon, Bruce Beneke, Karen
Canon, Jean Lastine, Pat Burns, Warren Ortland, Janine Laird, Jeremy Lane,
Caroline Palmer (MSBA Staff)
LAD Committee Leadership: Katie Trotzky thanked Tom Conlin for his service as co-chair of the LAD Committee. Conlin will be leaving the committee and Trotzky will stay on one more year for continuity. Pat Kelly, the incoming MSBA president, will approve the new LAD co-chair.
MSBA Staffing Updates: Conlin reviewed the history of the MSBA's staffing for the Access to Justice and Pro Bono Development positions and announced that a new Access to Justice Director was being hired and the name would be announced soon.
Becker and Reece Awards: Trotzky congratulated Jim Baillie and Bricker Lavik, both present at the meeting, recently received the Reece Award at the ABA's Equal Justice Conference. She also announced the winners of the Becker Awards: Judy King, Volunteer Attorney Coordinator for Central Minnesota Legal Services in Willmar; Judith Sedin, Director of Administration at Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota in Duluth; and Franklin Gould, a student at University of Minnesota Law School.
Update on MSBA's Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts: Jim Baillie gave a report about his recent trip to New Orleans to volunteer at the Pro Bono Project. He discussed the new pro bono coordinator positions in Louisiana and Mississippi which are partly supported by funds raised in the MSBA's Katrina Relief campaign. Baillie worked with the Louisiana coordinator and gave her lots of information about Minnesota contacts at the bar and in the large law firms. The hope is that law firms in Louisiana can co-counsel with firms in Minnesota on some cases. He also worked on setting up a bankruptcy pro bono program. Conlin thanked Baillie for representing Minnesota and Baillie added that the contacts in Louisiana are very appreciative of the Minnesota effort.
Legal Rights Center: Conlin congratulated Michael Friedman, who was present at the meeting, for his new position as new executive director of the Legal Rights Center.
Judiciary: Judge Lloyd Zimmerman reviewed LAD's initiatives regarding the judiciary. This subcommittee could use additional volunteers and a meeting had been set up for May 10 at the MSBA to review new initiatives for the subcommittee. The subcommittee will review a memo written by a Pennsylvania judge that reviews actions taken in different jurisdictions for the judiciary to promote pro bono. Pat Burns also mentioned that a new policy has been issued that will make it very difficult for judicial employees to participate in pro bono work. The subcommittee will review this policy as well.
Websites: Clare Scott demonstrated some aspects of the new LAD website and explained how it will integrate with LawHelpMn.org and ProJusticeMn.org. It will serve as a place to post news and events about pro bono in Minnesota.
CLE Credit for Pro Bono: Caroline Palmer reported that the LAD proposal for CLE Credit for Pro Bono is continuing to pick up support from MSBA sections and committees. The boards of the Hennepin County and Ramsey County Bar Associations also plan to weigh in. The proposal will be submitted to the MSBA Policy Committee on June 1 and if it is approved by the Policy Committee it will go to the MSBA Assembly for consideration on June 23. If approved by the Assembly the next step will be a petition to the Supreme Court to change the CLE Board rules. It is anticipated that the Minnesota CLE board will oppose the proposal; it will make a decision on June 8 and report its position to the MSBA Policy Committee. (Please contact Caroline Palmer if you were not at the meeting and would like a copy of the proposal.)
Law School Initiatives (LSI): Janine Laird reported on the recent recognition ceremony for the law students who participated in the public service program during school. She also recognized Peter Knapp for his continued leadership of this subcommittee.
IOLTA: Stageberg reported that the IOLTA proposal was unanimously approved by the MSBA Assembly at its April meeting. The proposal will be presented to the Minnesota Supreme Court this fall. If the proposal is accepted by the court it is anticipated that legal services will benefit greatly from the new interest rate rules. (Please contact Nancy Mischel if you were not at the meeting and would like a copy of the proposal.)
Large Firm Pro Bono Recruitment: Lavik reported that the large law firm recruitment efforts continue. A letter from Sue Holden was sent to the firms and now members of the subcommittee will be following up with visits. Palmer reported that the firms were also sent a survey about their pro bono activities and responses are being received.
ABA Civil Gideon Resolution: Mary Schneider, Executive Director of Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, explained the ABA's role in promoting Civil Gideon. Current ABA president Michael Greco is very much in favor of furthering Civil Gideon and the resolution would provide for civil representation in cases involving shelter, food, safety, health or child custody. The ABA has requested that the MSBA co-sponsor the proposal. The proposal will be considered by the ABA House of Delegates at the August annual meeting. It is anticipated that there will be several co-sponsors. Ed Cassidy asked about the vision for how Civil Gideon would be paid for. Schneider explained that at present there is not a funding plan, that will come later, but funding will probably come from different jurisdictions. There are huge costs connected to not implementing Civil Gideon. Baillie explained that the resolution was adopted by the ABA Business Law Section. The resolution is a policy statement, budget issues will be addressed differently. It was moved, seconded and unanimously supported that LAD recommend that the MSBA cosponsor the resolution. (Please contact Caroline Palmer if you were not at the meeting and would like a copy of the resolution.)
LAD Civil Gideon CLE at the MSBA Convention: Schneider reported that the LAD CLE on Civil Gideon is coming together for the Convention. Schneider will be joined by Justice Earl Johnson from Los Angeles, a noted national expert on Civil Gideon. The presentation will include a mock argument.
ABA Principles of a State System for the Delivery of Civil Legal Aid Resolution: The ABA has also requested that the MSBA cosponsor this resolution. Knapp reported that the resolution is consistent with the findings of the Legal Services Planning Commission if it is regarded as a nonexclusive list of values that are considered useful in thinking about delivering legal services. Knapp thought it would be fine to adopt the resolution as is, he did not read it to be a mandate. It was moved, seconded and unanimously supported that LAD recommend the MSBA cosponsor the resolution. (Please contact Caroline Palmer if you were not at the meeting and would like a copy of the resolution.)
Report on the Legal Services Planning Committee: Knapp reported that the Committee will meet again on May 24.
Emeritus Rules: Brad Thorsen explained that there is interest in exploring the adoption of Emeritus Rules in Minnesota. The rules in other jurisdictions allow for exemptions for attorneys who are retired or not in practice who are doing only pro bono cases (exemptions include reduction of cost of licensing fees). Thorsen requested that a subcommittee get together and look at rules from other states and come up with a proposed rule. Trotzky and Roy Ginsburg expressed interest in joining a subcommittee.
Update on Pro Bono Council: Canon reported that the Council is continuing its data assessment study by collecting statistics from participating organizations during the months of April and May. The Council will meet again on June 12 and discuss the statistics, MVAP, the Spanish hotline, ProJusticeMn.org, and other topics.
Super Lawyer Awards and Pro Bono Requirements: Sue Pontinen suggested that an attorney should not be named a Super Lawyer or Rising Star unless s/he has demonstrated pro bono work. At least it would be good if Law & Politics would add pro bono as part of its eligibility criteria. It was recommended that LAD send a proposal to Law & Politics and set up a face-to-face meeting. A subcommittee was created: Ginsburg, Pontinen, Conlin and Thorsen. Jeremy Lane reported that it would be a good way to collect pro bono data. Lavik added that in the AMLA 100 law firms have to do pro bono to part of the "A-list" and that firms try extra hard to meet the 20 hour requirements.
Update on the "Up Your Pro Bono" Campaign: Although
participation was not as high as expected, over 60 names were collected. Warren
Ortland won the opportunity for a long weekend at Conlin's cabin. A dinner
will be arranged in the fall at Conlin's house for the other participants.
Tom Conlin co-chair, conducted the meeting. In attendance: Katie Trotzky (Co-Chair), Martha Delaney, Michael Friedman, Roy Ginsburg, Beverly Jones Heydinger, Tom Johnson, Jean Lastine, Bricker Lavik, David Lund, Warren Ortland, Sue Pontinen, Kathy Gross-Schoen, Brad Thorsen, Alysia Zens, Pam Wandzel; Caroline Palmer and Guen Easley (MSBA staff).
MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee (LAD)
January 10, 2006
Attending in Person: Katie Trotzky (Co-Chair), Bruce Beneke,
Karen Canon, Ed Cassidy, Mary Durand, Michael Friedman, Michele Garnett McKenzie,
Roy Ginsburg, Kathy Gross Schoen, Peter Knapp, Janine Laird, Jerry Lane, Jean
Lastine, Bricker Lavik, Barb Lindberg, Warren Ortland, Sue Pontinen, Mary
Schneider, Ryan Schmidt, Roger Stageberg, Brad Thorsen, Alysia Zens, Judge
Judiciary: Judge Zimmerman discussed LAD's initiatives at a recent meeting of the bench regarding statewide priorities. This subcommittee could use additional volunteers.
IOLTA: Stageberg provided LAD members with background on Minnesota's IOLTA program and proposed changes to MN Rules of Professional Conduct 1.15 which governs IOLTA accounts. A small group has been meeting recently on IOLTA issues, spurred by Kent Gernander's service on the ABA's IOLTA Commission and what he learned in that role. Other states with attorney populations comparable to Minnesota (ie: Michigan) are earning much more on their IOLTA accounts than we are. Those states attribute a large part of their increased revenue to rule changes they have implemented and the proposed language changes are modeled after those states. The LAD Committee approved the proposed changes with the knowledge that there may be some fine-tuning still to take place between now and the April meeting of the Assembly when the request will be made for full MSBA support. (Please contact Nancy Mischel if you were not at the meeting and would like a copy of the proposal.)
CLE Credit for Pro Bono: Palmer reported that Tom Conlin, Ginsberg and she met with Peg Corneille of the Board of Continuing Legal Education and Frank Harris at MN CLE regarding the proposal. The response of both was characterized as "respectful skepticism." While it is hoped that the groups will at least not oppose the proposal, the LAD Committee voted to request MSBA Assembly approval. The proposal will go to the MSBA's Policy Committee prior to the April Assembly meeting. (Please contact Caroline Palmer if you were not at the meeting and would like a copy of the proposal.)
Law School Initiatives (LSI): Laird reported the LSI subcommittee has created a funding formula for law schools to support MJF. It will be rolled out to the law schools this month.
Large Firm Pro Bono Recruitment: Lavik reported that this subcommittee has been reinvigorated and is picking up on the effort begun by former MSBA President Jim Baillie. The Committee has drafted a letter they hope current MSBA President Sue Holden will sign which will be sent to the largest firms encouraging them to designate someone within their firm as the pro bono contact and also to track pro bono work in their firm. Subcommittee members will make follow-up phone calls and arrange meetings with the firms. The subcommittee is also thinking of creating an "A" list for law firms in Minnesota and is exploring what criteria would be used.
Bernard P. Becker Awards: The Bernie Becker Award is given each
year to two outstanding legal services staff and a volunteer law student.
Nomination forms and additional information are available on the MSBA's website
Civil Gideon Presentation: Mary Schneider, Executive Director of Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, presented an overview of the argument for a civil right to counsel, similar to that for criminal cases as articulated in the U.S. Supreme Court case Gideon v. Wainwright. Schneider outlined both the history of the issue and current activities across the country. Washington state has been very active and litigated two cases. The Texas bar introduced legislation for a right to counsel in eviction cases. The ABA has appointed a national task force on the issue. Schneider, Lavik, Knapp, Cassidy and Laird volunteered to serve on a civil Gideon subcommittee. The first task of the subcommittee will be to help develop a program on the topic for the MSBA Convention in June, provided the idea is approved by the Advisory Committee for the Convention.
Update on the "Up Your Pro Bono" Campaign: Palmer reported that she has not received many pledge cards and encouraged members to fill one out.
Report on Legal Services Planning Committee (LSPC): Knapp reported that the LSPC has had three meetings since its formation. One was a public meeting to hear a presentation by Professor Jeanne Charn from Harvard. The LSPC anticipates working with Professor Charn on data collection and analysis.
Update on MSBA's Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts: Thorsen reported that Sue Holden, Abigail Turner and Jim Baillie are currently in the Gulf area touring the MSBA's adopted programs and seeing for themselves the devastation and the need. A total of four legal clinics for hurricane victims were held at community centers in Minneapolis. Training was provided by legal aid for the volunteer attorneys recruited by VLN. The MSBA has sent one truckload of donated office furniture to the Gulf. The MSBA is very close to its fundraising goal of $400,000 for Katrina efforts. Approximately $200,000 has been disbursed to the adopted agencies and other humanitarian organizations so far.
Lane moved that the LAD Committee commend MSBA leadership on this issue and law firms that have contributed to the Katrina effort. The LAD Committee gave its unanimous approval. The LAD Co-Chairs will send a letter to MSBA President Sue Holden with this message.
Update on Pro Bono Council: Canon reported that the Council has met twice since its formal inception. Lastine and Murto are heading a 2-month study of all the constituent organizations, tracking client turndowns during March and April. The Council is also discussing their relationship with ProJusticeMN.org website.
NEXT LAD COMMITTEE MEETINGS:
Attending in Person: Tom Conlin and Katie Trotzky, Co-Chairs. Bruce
Beneke, Martha Delaney, Joe Dixon, Mary Durand, Michael Friedman, Michele Garnett
McKenzie, Roy Ginsburg, Kathy Gross Schoen, Theresa Hughes, Tom Johnson, Beverly
Jones Heydinger, Tim Kelley, Janine Laird, Jerry Lane, Jean Lastine, Bricker
Lavik, Barbara Lindberg, Maureen O’Connell, Warren Ortland, Barbara Penn,
Sue Pontinen, Clare Scott, Sara Sommarstrom, Roger Stageberg, Brad Thorsen,
Tom Walsh, Joanna Woolman, Alysia Zens, Judge Lloyd Zimmerman.
Note: Due to a last minute conflict, Mary Schneider was unable to attend. She was going to provide LAD with background and information on civil Gideon, the argument for a right to counsel in civil cases. This item will be on LAD’s January agenda.
LSAC (Legal Services Advisory Committee) Funding Report: Conlin provided a breakdown on the groups that received funding from LSAC recently and the amounts. Not all of the $750,000 was distributed; some was reserved for a statewide single intake line proposal which would serve both legal aid and pro bono.
Update on the “Up Your Pro Bono” Campaign: Palmer distributed postcard signups for the campaign. Each LAD member is asked to recruit 5 new volunteers who have not taken a pro bono case in the past year. The grand prize is a weekend at Conlin’s lake home near Rice Lake, Wisconsin. Second prize is dinner at Conlin’s home with special guests. An Honor Roll list with the names of those who met the goal of 5 recruits will be published and posted. MSBA President Sue Holden’s November President’s page in Bench & Bar encourages attorneys to do pro bono and mentions the LAD campaign.
Judiciary: Judge Zimmerman would like this subcommittee to have a member from each judicial district in the state. A likely source is to recruit someone from each of the judicial district pro bono award committees. Zimmerman, Cassidy, Mischel, Walsh, Candee Goodman and others met with Judge Steven Mihalchick last week to discuss the number of pro se people appearing in administrative law cases and how we might assist in finding volunteer attorneys to represent them. There will be additional follow-up on this item.
Websites: Scott reported that content provided by Mischel and Palmer is currently being added to the LAD website by the volunteer website gurus volunteering their time on this project. Scott is certain she will be able to demo the website for us at the LAD meeting in January.
Marketing: No report. Kudos were given for their great work on the “Up Your Pro Bono” campaign materials.
CLE Credit for Pro Bono: Palmer reported that Conlin, Ginsberg and herself will meet with the Board of Continuing Legal Education next week regarding the proposal. A meeting with MN CLE will be scheduled as well.
Law School Initiatives (LSI): Laird reported the LSI subcommittee is creating a funding formula for law schools as well as looking at programming and marketing. A William Mitchell professor, in collaboration with MJF, is attempting to obtain grant funding to study law school graduates and pro bono. MJF plans to train attorneys how to supervise law students. Many volunteer attorneys are offered the help of a law student but say no; the training may change that. MJF’s Annual Awards celebration is Nov. 17th.
Tech Issues for Non-LSC Programs: Mischel reported that the technology planning grant proposal submitted to LSAC by MVAP (Minnesota Volunteer Attorney Program) was funded in full at $10,500. It will be used to contract with MAP (Management Assistance Project) to perform a technology assessment of all the non-Coalition legal services and pro bono programs that expressed a desire to participate. The assessment will provide recommendations and establish baseline needs, as well as provide cost estimates for recommended upgrades or new equipment and possible funding sources.
IOLTA: Lane reported that a working group is meeting and preparing proposed changes to IOLTA rules in order to generate additional revenue. Former MSBA President Kent Gernander recently served on the national IOLTA commission and in that capacity learned how far Minnesota is behind most other states in terms of revenue raised by the IOLTA program. The ideas (ie: prohibiting negative netting) Gernander brought back from his work are serving as the genesis for the proposed changes. The plan is to have specific changes ready for LAD’s approval in January. From there the proposal would go to the General Policy Committee of the MSBA and then to the Assembly before filing a Petition with the Supreme Court.
Report on Legal Services Planning Committee (LSPC): Beneke reported that Jeanne Charn from Harvard made a presentation to the LSPC and interested others in October. Harvard does have some money available to partner with states. LSPC does not have a follow-up meeting scheduled at this time.
Update on MSBA’s Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts: Thorsen reported that Abigail Turner of Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance (MMLA) and former MSBA President Jim Baillie are co-chairing the Delivery of Legal Services subcommittee of the MSBA’s Katrina Relief Task Force. A processing center for hurricane victims in St. Paul closed on September 30. Attorneys from MMLA and SMRLS (Southern MN Regional Legal Services) provided legal assistance at the processing center. VLN coordinated referrals to volunteer attorneys as needed. Three legal clinics for hurricane victims will be held at community centers in Minneapolis next week. Thorsen is seeking volunteer attorneys to staff the clinics; please contact him if you are able to help. MJF is recruiting law students to assist the volunteer attorneys at the clinics. The MSBA has also been conducting a fundraising campaign, with one specific fund funneling contributions to four adopted programs: a legal aid office in Alabama, Louisiana and Mississippi, and the Pro Bono Project in New Orleans.
Pro Bono Related to Criminal Law: Friedman and Woolman distributed a document detailing various areas of the law that are criminal, quasi-criminal and civil, where there is a need for pro bono attorneys and no constitutional right to a public defender. Woolman asked if LAD was interested in launching a new initiative to do pro bono recruitment for these types of cases or if it could be incorporated into existing pro bono recruitment efforts. Pontinen said VLN already takes some of the case types on the list, but they could always use more volunteer attorneys to take the actual cases. Trotzky said LAD’s mission is limited to civil legal services for low-income people and perhaps pro bono recruitment should focus on those on the needs list that are civil in nature. Lastine offered to attend a meeting of the Criminal Law section with Friedman and Woolman to talk about pro bono and try to recruit volunteers. Garnett mentioned there is a serious need in immigration law for habeus cases that the federal public defender used to take. Detainees also need representation. Delaney mentioned that a new criminal expungement project at the Council on Crime and Justice has recruited a number of volunteer attorneys who may welcome an opportunity to help in some of these other areas.
Large Firm Pro Bono Recruitment Follow-up: Lavik would like LAD to do more recruiting at firms. He suggested teams of LAD members agree to call two firms over the next year to encourage them to increase their pro bono efforts. This may also get firms thinking about tracking their pro bono work, which would be useful information. Ginsburg thought the largest 10 or so firms probably don’t need a push but the rest do. Lavik wondered if perhaps LAD should issue a pro bono challenge at a state level, similar to what the ABA did on a national level. The ABA’s Pro Bono Challenge has been quite successful. A signup sheet was passed around for those who want to volunteer on the recruitment effort in firms. The MSBA does have a list of the top 100 firms that they can distribute.
LSC (Legal Services Corporation) Funding Update: Bad news. Most of the legal aid offices in Minnesota receive LSC funding. Unfortunately, the appropriation for LSC that came out of a Congressional conference committee last week is the same amount as last year. Even worse, it is likely to drop lower as a result of across the board rescissions. Beneke mentioned that LSC President Helaine Barnett will be speaking at the SMRLS luncheon on Nov. 22 about their new Justice Gap report. Contact Barbara Penn at SMRLS for more information on attending the event.
NEXT LAD COMMITTEE MEETINGS:
The September 13, 2005 meeting of the MSBA LAD Committee convened at 8:00 a.m. in the President's Room of the MSBA office. Tom Conlin and Katie Trotzky presided as co-chairs.
Attending in Person: Bruce Beneke, Karen Canon, Tom Conlin, Mary Durand, Michael
Friedman, Michele Garnett McKenzie, Roy Ginsburg, Candee Goodman, Kathy Gross
Schoen, Theresa Hughes, Tom Johnson, Beverly Jones Heydinger, Janine Laird,
Jerry Lane, Jean Lastine, Barbara Lindberg, Maureen O'Connell, Warren Ortland,
Sue Pontinen, Sara Sommarstrom, Brad Thorsen, Katie Trotzky, Joanna Woolman.
LAD Goals for the Coming Year: Conlin stated that last year LAD focused on funding for legal services and the outcome was extraordinarily successful. This year, the focus is on recruiting more volunteer attorneys to take pro bono cases and Conlin believes the outcome can be just as extraordinary. Each LAD member will be asked to find five attorneys who have not done pro bono in the past year and get them to take a pro bono case. If each of LAD's 50 members was successful in finding five, the 250 more clients would receive legal help. Hopefully MSBA leadership will get involved and expand the challenge to other sections and members of the MSBA, but LAD will lead the way. Gross Schoen distributed some promo materials for the recruitment campaign entitled "Up Your Pro Bono." LAD members will receive a letter describing the campaign, along with LAD business cards to hand out and a reply card to pledge their commitment to finding five. The campaign will run for 6 months, from October to March. Those who find five will have their names included in an "Honor Roll" and possibly also included in a Pro Bono Annual Report.
Large Firm Pro Bono Recruitment Follow-up: Conlin reported that LAD member Bricker Lavik contacted him requesting that LAD do additional follow-up with large firms and corporate counsel who attended a luncheon promoting pro bono more than a year ago. Hughes will coordinate with Lavik and report back to LAD via email with a suggested plan of action.
Judiciary: Neither Lloyd Zimmerman nor Ed Cassidy, the chairs of this subcommittee, were able to attend. Johnson asked whether the subcommittee was still going to solicit judges to speak at some CLE's over the year as had been discussed previously. Palmer indicated that the Judicial Standards Board had responded to Judge Zimmerman's request for information regarding permissible activities judges could undertake in encouraging attorneys to do pro bono. The Board's letter is vague and the MSBA plans to seek additional clarification, in part because the letter was written prior to the White decision. While all the judges in each judicial district and the Supreme Court have signed onto letters encouraging attorneys to do pro bono, we are still awaiting a letter from the Court of Appeals. Palmer also reported that the judicial district pro bono award nomination process will be started earlier this year in order to coordinate with HCBA awards that are given in March.
Websites: Scott was unable to attend but Mischel reported on her behalf that a volunteer is in the process of adding content provided by Mischel and Palmer into the LAD website. The website may be ready for the next LAD meeting in November.
Marketing: Nothing additional to report other than what is covered above under LAD Goals for the Coming Year.
CLE Credit for Pro Bono: Palmer reported that this subcommittee met recently to review a memorandum written by Sean Brown, a law student volunteer, researching whether pro bono had increased in states that have implemented CLE credit for pro bono. (Please contact Palmer or Mischel if you wish to read Mr. Brown's memo.) While it cannot be positively demonstrated that such a policy results in more new attorneys taking pro bono cases, the subcommittee felt there were sufficient positive ramifications to justify moving forward with a proposal here. The next step is to set up meetings with MN CLE and the Board of Continuing Legal Education. Ginsberg has good connections with both of those entities and will attend the meetings along with others.
Law School Initiatives (LSI): Laird reminded the Committee that at the last LAD meeting in May, a resolution in support of increased funding to MJF from the four law schools was approved. There have now been several meetings involving the four deans and MJF's executive committee. The result has been positive; all four law schools decided to increase their funding. Conlin encouraged members to approach the deans whenever we see them and let them know how much we appreciate their commitment to MJF. Laird is working to ensure that law school leaders understand how much legal services and pro bono organizations do to help advance students' careers by providing excellent volunteer learning opportunities. Laird announced that more placements are needed for students. New law students are very interested in MJF; one-half of the first year students at the U of M came to the first MJF chapter meeting. Laird suggested that when members are recruiting new pro bono volunteers, it might help to mention law students are available to help them with their pro bono case. Students are willing to travel during winter and spring break and outstate programs should consider how they might use students during those times. Laird also mentioned the Attractive Nuisance Tour, an upcoming fundraiser for MJF and the Hennepin County Bar Foundation. It will be held Friday, October 14 at First Avenue. All the bands have lawyer members.
Tech Issues for Non-LSC Programs: Mischel reported that a technology planning grant proposal was submitted to LSAC by MVAP (Minnesota Volunteer Attorney Program). The amount requested is $10,500. It would be used to contract with MAP (Management Assistance Project) to perform a technology assessment of all the non-Coalition legal services and pro bono programs that expressed a desire to participate. The assessment will provide recommendations and establish baseline needs, as well as provide cost estimates for recommended upgrades or new equipment and possible funding sources.
Pro Bono Annual Report: Palmer provided an update and information that a first ever pro bono annual report will be sent via email to all MSBA members in June 2006. This is a small subcommittee, so anyone else interested in volunteering their efforts on this project would be most welcome. The goal is to roll out the report to the community with some sort of fanfare.
Attorney Registration Fee: Conlin reported that this subcommittee was tabled last year on account of poor timing. Given the funding success at the state legislature, all agreed it is an inopportune time to try and pursue an increase in the attorney registration fee, with the increased funds going to legal services and pro bono. The question of timing will be reviewed again at the beginning of the next LAD year.
Report on Pro Bono Council: The Council was officially launched July 1 with a joint venture agreement signed by the participating members. The first official meeting of the Pro Bono Council is September 30th and will deal with organizational issues such as electing a Chair, setting goals, etc. The Council did have an interim meeting to review potential grant requests to LSAC (Legal Services Advisory Committee). The Council decided it was premature to take an official position on any of the grant requests.
Report on new state Legal Services Planning Committee (LSPC): Heydinger reported that the newly appointed Committee has had one meeting so far. The Committee was appointed by the Supreme Court as the successor body to the former Legal Services Planning Commission. The Committee is chaired by Peter Knapp and is looking at how to get a handle on client need in order to inform decision making and set priorities for state legal services programs. Discussion at the first meeting included whether or not to request funding from LSAC for a staff position, since the Committee has no funding and no staff. The group decided not to pursue LSAC funding.
MSBA's Hurricane Katrina Relief Efforts: Mischel reported that MSBA President Sue Holden appointed a Katrina Relief Task Force. The Task Force met and divided into four subgroups: Delivery of Legal Services, Fundraising, Donations of Goods for the legal profession (such as office furniture), and General Humanitarian (such as providing housing for a displaced person). Many members responded to Sue Holden's emails with offers of help. A list of those who have volunteered has been compiled. While reports last week indicated that 3-5,000 evacuees would be coming to Camp Ripley in Minnesota, the latest reports put the number at 300 or less with a processing center to open in St. Paul, rather than Camp Ripley. It is anticipated that there will be both short term and long term legal needs. At the moment, it appears legal services will have a few attorneys at the processing center to provide help, with pro bono attorneys being called in to help as needed and provide backup on issue areas where legal aid lacks expertise. O'Connell mentioned that materials for victims and attorneys assisting victims will be available online at www.LawHelpMN.org (for clients) and www.ProJusticeMN.org (for lawyers). Hughes stated that the pro bono coordinators at the large firms stand ready to help with whatever is needed. Friedman raised the issue of criminal justice implications and suggested that someone with experience in criminal law should be included in the discussions.
The May 10, 2005 meeting of the MSBA LAD Committee convened at 8:00 a.m. in the President's Room of the MSBA office. Tom Conlin and Katie Trotzky presided as co-chairs.
Attending in Person: Steve Befort, Bruce Beneke, Karen Canon, Ed Cassidy, Mary
Durand, Sharon Elmore, Michael Friedman, David Galle, Roy Ginsburg, Candee Goodman,
Kathy Gross Schoen, Beverly Heydinger, Peter Knapp, Janine Laird, Jerry Lane,
Jean Lastine, Bricker Lavik, David Lund, Julie Nilsson, Warren Ortland, Sue
Pontinen, Clare Scott, Roger Stageberg, Brad Thorsen, Dan Tyson, Lloyd Zimmerman,
A Spotlight on Volunteer Attorney Program (VAP): Murto provided some history on VAP, a 501(c)(3) which formed in 1981 as of one five ABA pilot projects and is now celebrating 25 years of service. VAP receives 50-85 calls per day and closes an average of 500-900 cases/year. VAP closed 120 bankruptcy cases last year and handles a lot of family law cases. Due to insufficient staff, VAP does not track advice only. VAP has established clinics so that one attorney can handle 10 people. Clinic clients do not sign representation agreements unless the matter becomes contested. Murto does a weekly TV program that is shown on public access. VAP also has a Seniors on the Air project in collaboration with the legal aid office (LASNEM). VAP volunteer attorneys now do custody evaluations and serve as parenting time expeditors. They split the fees for these services with VAP and then are covered by VAP's malpractice insurance. VAP has 285 active volunteers and a website: www.volunteerattorney.org.
Tech Issues for Non-LSC Programs: Conlin asked for volunteers to serve on a new subcommittee that will look at what can be done to provide tech assistance to small legal services programs that are not part of the Legal Services Coalition. Murto, Durand, Trotzky and Elmore volunteered.
CLE Credit for Pro Bono: Palmer reported that the working group met after the last LAD meeting and made some changes in the proposed rule based on comments received. The changes streamline and simplify the proposal to make it the least objectionable possible. The group decided not to try and obtain ethics or elimination of bias credit for doing pro bono. The LAD Committee unanimously approved the proposal. The next step will be to garner support from the MSBA as a whole.
Legislation and Funding Update: Heading into conference committee both the House and Senate have increased funding for civil legal services in their budget bills. The problem is that there is no overall agreement between the bodies on overall spending and revenue. Rumor has it there will be a special session. Particularly crucial at this time are letters to the attorney members of the Public Safety budget conference committee, House and Senate leadership and to the Governor reminding them that legal services is a critical priority and urging continued support of the funding increase to legal aid. Chief Justice Blatz is also to be commended and thanked for her efforts, as well as Glenn Dorfman of the MN Realtor's Association.
Legal Services Planning Commisson: Knapp stated that he is working on an article including the report for a law journal. The Commission's final report will likely be available on the MSBA website and/or the Supreme Court's website. There is no order yet from the Supreme Court yet appointing the Commission's successor body.
Legal Aid Law Day Dinner: Lane reported that 975 tickets were sold and more than 800 people actually attended. Lane attributed the excellent turnout to the fact that Roger Stageberg was being honored that night for his long history supporting legal aid.
Pro Bono Council Task Force: Canon reported that the Pro Bono Council agreement is now being ratified by the various member organizations. Representative(s) must be designated by June 30, 2005. The first official meeting of the Pro Bono Council will be September 30th. Information will be available on the MSBA website. Beneke stated that Canon and Goodman are to be commended for their leadership and positive ideas.
Judiciary: Zimmerman reported that letters from almost every judicial district encouraging pro bono have been collected. Judge Touissant is still working on the Court of Appeals letter. This is the first time in Minnesota history, and likely across the county, that such an effort has been accomplished. Murto, who is on the ABA Pro Bono Committee, will bring this to Committee's attention at their June meeting. Lavik raised the issue of how to ensure that all the lawyers in the state see the letters. Efforts will be made with the large newspapers and MN Law and Politics to see if they will publish the letters. The Supreme Court letter was distributed at Legal Aid's Law Day Dinner and will also be handed out at the MSBA Convention. In addition, an enlarged and framed version of the letter will be hung in the MSBA lobby. Many judicial districts mailed their letter to attorneys in their district.
Websites: Scott reported that their volunteer is in the process of designing the LAD homepage. Elmore stated that there is a ProJusticeMN stakeholder meeting on May 26 at 9am at the MSBA. LawHelpMN has a new search feature. Changes from the recent usability study are being implemented.
Marketing: Gross Schoen reported that the subcommittee received a marketing industry association award for its work on LAD branding. Gross Schoen distributed LAD notecards and postcards, and unveiled two LAD ads expanded to posterboard size. These items were produced through the generosity of Fredrikson, Lindquist & Vennum, Shapco Printing and Spectra. Conlin and Trotzky will send thanks to these generous donors. The LAD postcards will be mailed in September to all MSBA members. LAD will have a table at the MSBA Convention in June where people can sign up to do pro bono and pick up more information. 21 firms have donated $100 each for refreshments at the LAD social hour on Thursday during the Convention. Conlin suggested anyone attending bring a box of crackers or goldfish (his personal favorite). Wednesday evening LAD will sponsor a game for the "country fair" theme event. Some great prizes have been donated to LAD that will be used as a draw for the social hour, including a miniature digital camcorder, a membership to the Hill Library and gift certificates to the Mission Restaurant.
Law School Initiatives (LSI): Laird reported that the subcommittee was hosted by Maury Landsman at the University of Minnesota this year; and most of the meetings focused on funding for MJF. Laird distributed a fact sheet on MJF and a proposed resolution for LAD to consider requesting that the law schools increase their current contribution towards MJF. LSI is now a national model to get students to do pro bono before going into practice; the law schools advertise MJF's public interest program in their recruiting materials. After a brief discussion, the resolution was unanimously adopted. Conlin and Trotzky will write a letter to the deans on behalf of LAD supporting LSI, enclosing the resolution and the Supreme Court letter encouraging pro bono. Alumni of the schools are encouraged to contact the deans and urge their support of MJF.
NEXT LAD COMMITTEE MEETINGS:
The March 8, 2005 meeting of the MSBA LAD Committee convened at 8:00 a.m. in the President's Room of the MSBA office. Katie Trotzky and Tom Conlin presided as co-chairs.
Attending in Person: Committee Members - Bruce Beneke, Karen Canon, Mary Durand, Michael Friedman, Roy Ginsburg, Candee Goodman, Kathy Gross Schoen, Jerry Lane, Jean Lastine, David Lund, Julie Nilsson, Warren Ortland, Jim Patterson, Clare Scott, Roger Stageberg, Brad Thorsen, Lloyd Zimmerman. Others interested - Sue Pontinen, Nancy Mischel and Caroline Palmer (MSBA staff). Attending via Telephone: Mike Connolly, Doug Johnson, Patty Murto, Sarah Shella-Stevens, Bill Thompson.
National Pro Bono Institute Award: Thorsen reported that Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN), Central MN Legal Services (CMLS), US Bank and Dorsey & Whitney were awarded the prestigious national Pro Bono Institute award for their legal clinic at the Brian Coyle Community Center in Minneapolis. Many clients have been served as a result of this combined effort. On behalf of VLN and CMLS, Thorsen accepted the award in Washington DC at the national conference. Canon from US Bank and Peter Hendrickson from Dorsey were present to accept the award on behalf of their respective organizations. Thorsen said that Minnesota is leading the way in pro bono corporate partnerships.
A Spotlight on VLN: Thorsen provided some history on VLN and information on current projects. VLN started in 1966 as Legal Advice Clinics. They now have a staff of nine, five of whom do phone intake. The intake process ensures callers are income-qualified. For full representation the cutoff is 125% of the federal poverty level (FPL). For phone advice 187.5% of FPL is used and for advice at legal advice clinics, 300% of FPL is the cutoff. VLN provides advice only, brief service and full representation depending on the case. VLN coordinates their efforts with both legal aid and VAP in Duluth. VLN saw an increase in their volunteer numbers after former MSBA President Jim Baillie issued his call to honor. VLN received over 6000 calls last year and they had 700 volunteer attorneys who took matters. Thorsen suggested that LAD could help VLN in two ways. One is to help VLN make more inroads into the corporate community. The other is to help VLN provide a day of programming for their staff on issues such as the difference between legal information and legal advice, dealing with mental illness in intakes, etc.
Tech Issues for Non-LSC Programs: Trotzky informed the LAD Committee that the MSBA is interested in putting together a meeting for non-LSC -LSAC programs to survey their technology needs and discuss any funding opportunities. Perhaps one combined grant is possible.
CLE Credit for Pro Bono: The Committee discussed a proposed rule for Minnesota which incorporates various aspects of similar rules from other states. Palmer requested LAD approval to move forward with the proposal by talking with bar leaders and the CLE Board, which is an independent state agency. Allowing CLE credit for pro bono work is another way to encourage participation in pro bono and a side benefit will be that it provides a volunteer tracking mechanism. Washington state has seen a good response since their similar rule took effect. Several members raised issues that will need to be addressed to garner support, from the lost income concern for current providers of CLE, to a concern that opening CLE for other than the strictest interpretation of "education" might be difficult. Palmer said the working group will reconvene and consider changes to the proposed rule based on LAD's discussion. On the whole, the LAD Committee approved the concept and asked the working group to proceed.
LAW Day: Conlin mentioned that LAW Day is May 1st and asked if LAD had ever done anything in conjunction with LAW Day. The answer was no; LAW Day has been a project of various programs and local bar associations rather than LAD. For example, Thorsen stated that the HCBA has taken the ABA LAW Day theme and had legal advice clinics outside their office in the City Center. Murto said that LAW Day has always been a project of the volunteer attorney program in Duluth rather than a project of the bar. Conlin asked for volunteers to help the judiciary subcommittee of LAD with their effort to recruit judges to sign the pro bono letter to be published on LAW Day (see subcommittee reports below). Trotzky, Lastine, Nilssen, Conlin, Thorsen and Goodman volunteered.
Legislation and Funding Update: Lane reported that a bill raising real estate filing fees, with the increase to be directed to civil legal services, has been introduced in the House and the Senate. It has the strong support of the MN Realtors Association. Hearings on the bill have not yet been held. Lane also mentioned that the Legal Aid Society's annual Law Day Dinner will be held May 3rd. Roger Stageberg will be the guest of honor.
Dobbins Case Update: Lastine informed LAD that LSC is appealing the Dobbins case to the 2nd Circuit. The U.S. District Court in Dobbins ruled that New York legal services programs receiving LSC funds could use their private, nonfederal funds to engage in a range of advocacy activities that Congress restricted in 1996, and that the programs could share employees, equipment and back office space with their non-LSC affiliates.
Unbundled Legal Services: Lastine reported that the MSBA's Pro Se Committee has been looking at unbundled legal services, thinking that perhaps it might be easier for attorneys to do pro bono if they could limit their representation to a discrete portion of a case. The Committee had drafted rule changes but after holding two focus groups (one with judges and one with attorneys), they think education may be the better route. They are in the process of drafting a report which they hope to present at the statewide Convention in June. An education plan would be developed through the MSBA and MNCLE, with topics such as how to draft a retainer agreement.
Client Demand Side Update: Friedman reported that Sharon Elmore, David Galle and himself met after the last LAD meeting and defined their task as outreach and awareness on accessing justice, particularly concentrating on raising the awareness of intermediaries who might make referrals (ie: social workers, public defenders, United Way, etc). Handouts will be developed and an effort will be made to appear at statewide conferences for these types of groups. Elmore will be taking the lead in this work.
MSBA Convention and LAD Presence: Conlin noted that the LAD Committee will be hosting a social hour at the Convention, which is at Madden's Resort in Brainerd, June 15-17, 2005.
Pro Bono Council Task Force: Canon said a final report from the group will be available the next time LAD meets. At their last meeting, the Task Force reviewed a draft joint venture agreement to form a coalition of participating pro bono providers. Organizations are taking the agreement back to their boards for input. One issue will be how to coordinate the Council's work with the MSBA.
Judiciary: Zimmerman reported that the subcommittee is building from the accomplishments of last year. They have submitted a letter to the Judicial Standards Board asking for a formal opinion regarding the ability of judges to encourage lawyers to do pro bono. The opinion will likely help alleviate any concerns individual members of the bench may have in this regard. The 3rd judicial district (Rochester) has a call to action letter signed by all of their judges that has been sent to area attorneys. Zimmerman said there are efforts underway to have the entire state bench sign a letter encouraging pro bono and publish it on Law Day.
Websites: Scott reported that their volunteer is beginning to design the LAD homepage. Palmer added that the pro bono directory on ProJusticeMN.org is now searchable by geographic area, type of case desired, organization, etc. Also, the legal services coalition directors approved having all legal aid attorneys automatically signed up for ProJusticeMN.
Marketing: Gross Schoen distributed a sample LAD brochure, notecard and postcard. The marketing subcommittee is obtaining quotes to produce these items in large quantity. They are also looking for a volunteer vendor to put the LAD ads on posterboard for use in the MSBA lobby and at the statewide convention. The LAD ads will be run in the Bench & Bar.
Law School Initiatives: Nilssen reported that the subcommittee is looking at creating a class that would expand on the substantive skills lawyers working in the public interest/nonprofit sector need, such as fundraising, media relations, etc. There will be a recognition ceremony for law students who have completed 50 hours or more of volunteer work at the University of St. Thomas on April 5 at 5pm.
Attorney Registration Fee: Conlin reported that a small group has been meeting to try and develop a theme for this issue, anticipate objections and deal with them strategically. Any LAD members interested in helping in this effort should contact Mischel at the MSBA.
Other Business: Murto said that state Rep. Tom Huntley from Duluth has legislation that will allow small businesses to join the same insurance plan. Murto suggested that nonprofits take a look at the bill and she will contact Rep. Huntley for more information.
NEXT LAD COMMITTEE MEETING: May 10, 2005 at 8:00 a.m.
The January 11, 2005 meeting of the MSBA LAD Committee convened at 8:00 a.m. in the President's Room of the MSBA office. Tom Conlin and Katie Trotzky presided as co-chairs.
Attending in Person: Committee Members - Karen Canon, Ed Cassidy, Mary Durand, Sharon Elmore, Michael Friedman, David Galle, Tom Goodman, Kathy Gross Schoen, Thomas Johnson, Janine Laird, Jerry Lane, Bricker Lavik, Lora Mitchell, Julie Nilsson, Jim Patterson, Clare Scott, Brad Thorsen, Lloyd Zimmerman. Others interested - Beverly Jones Heydinger, Sue Pontinen, Nancy Mischel and Caroline Palmer (MSBA staff). Attending via Telephone: Doug Johnson, Sarah Shella-Stevens
Introductions: Conlin introduced Caroline Palmer, the new Pro Bono Development Director at the MSBA. Palmer comes to us from the Minnesota AIDS Project. Among her roles at the MSBA, she will serve as a liaison between pro bono programs and the bar and will be staffing the LAD Committee along with Mischel. We are very pleased to welcome her!
CLE Credit for Pro Bono: Palmer distributed and reported on some research she did regarding other states that offer CLE credit for pro bono work. There are currently five states with this option. Lavick mentioned that a similar effort was attempted in Minnesota 7 or so years ago to no avail. Lane thought that perhaps a track record of five years in New York and adoption by other states might now prove influential with Minnesota's CLE Board. Laird, Thorsen, Pontinen and Zimmerman agreed to work with Palmer to gather specific information from states with pro bono CLE credit as to reaction from their CLE Boards.
Legislation and Funding Update: Lane reported that he and Bruce Beneke, along with representatives from the MN Realtor's Association, met with House Republican leadership about the legal services funding proposal. The signals from House leadership were encouraging, but the state has a substantial budget deficit to address and it is a long time between now and the end of session. Public defender funding is on a fast track for the biennium and is being heard in a deficiency committee. Lane stated that there will likely be a cut in federal LSC funding for 2006 due to the enormous federal deficit. Lane reported on the Dobbins case, which challenged federal restrictions preventing legal services offices that receive federal LSC funds from using private funds to represent particular clients and types of cases (such as class actions). The Court found the private money restrictions violated the First Amendment of the Constitution. The impact of the decision is unclear; but it may have some repercussions within LSC and Congress.
State Planning Commission: Lane reported that the last formal meeting of this group was December 15. Peter Knapp is preparing the final report which addresses how to keep track of changing needs and how to do future planning. The report contains recommendations for a legal services funding increase and an attorney registration fee increase. Knapp should have the report completed by the end of January. A slate of candidates for an ongoing successor body should be ready for presentation to the Supreme Court around the end of January as well. This smaller group of 12-15 people will serve as a "think tank" for all access to justice issues across the state. Lavick asked about the status of work on the attorney registration fee increase proposal. Trotzky and Conlin responded that the timeframe for that work is likely 6-9 months, with the hope that a petition would be ready for the Supreme Court in the fall of 2005.
Role of LAD vis a vis the Ongoing Commission Body: Conlin asked about coordination of LAD work vis a vis the ongoing planning body of the State Planning Commission. Lane suggested that there will likely be enough overlap in membership between the two groups that coordinating work should not be a concern. Conlin reiterated the desire that LAD be a "doing" committee and invited members to bring to LAD a problem in their organization (ie: a staffing issue, knowledge gap) that LAD can help solve. Lavick commented that many initiatives have been generated by LAD. Pontinen mentioned that VLN has an initiative to involve corporate legal departments more in pro bono work and asked whether LAD can play a role in that effort. Conlin appointed Roy Ginsberg, former ACKA Board Chair, to lead the charge to recruit corporate counsel. Pontinen or Thorsen will contact Ginsberg and inform him of his new responsibility.
Bernard Becker Awards: Mischel reported that the MSBA is now soliciting
nominations for the Bernie Becker Award. Two awards are given to legal services
staff and one award to a law student volunteer. Nominations are due February
18 to Tim Groshens. More information, nomination forms, and a list of past recipients
are available online at: http://www2.mnbar.org/committees/lad/Becker-Awards.pdf
Pro Bono Council: Canon updated the Committee on the work of the Pro Bono Council, which she expects to wrap up in March. The Council decided it does not wish to be housed under the Supreme Court, but they do desire an affiliation with the MSBA. The model to launch the Pro Bono Council will be that of a joint venture; a coalition of the willing. In the future, they may form a 501(c)(3). The Supreme Court's Planning Commission recommended approval of a permanent Pro Bon Council. The Council adopted four functions: to serve as the voice of pro bono; to make recommendations regarding a pro bono delivery system; to develop and implement new pro bono projects; and to promote pro bono involvement by private attorneys.
Judiciary: Cassidy reported that the subcommittee is making sure judicial districts maintain their pro bono committees and think ahead to pro bono award recipients for May 2005. They are also looking to bring judges to CLE's to encourage pro bono work. Gross Schoen wrote a one-page talking points sheet for judges to use, which both increases comfort level and provides a consistent message. A pro bono volunteer sign-up sheet will also be handed out at CLE's. The group will encourage judges to have LAD marketing cards with a number to call to volunteer available on their desks. Heydinger mentioned an article she had read recently on the topic of judges encouraging lawyers to do pro bono work; she will forward it to Mischel for distribution to Committee members.
Websites: Scott reported that the subcommittee wants to build on the LAD brand, driving people to use the LAD website and phone number. They have developed the architecture for the LAD website, which will link to LawHelp and ProJusticeMN. Usability improvements are being looked at for ProJusticeMN. So far all the work on the LAD website and marketing campaign has been done gratis.
Marketing: Gross Schoen distributed copies of two marketing ads which
the subcommittee is looking to place in legal publications. Bench & Bar
and MN Lawyer will run the ads for free when they have unused space, but that
rarely happens. A discussion regarding the cost of advertising space ensued.
The subcommittee will develop recommendations for funding source(s) for the
ads. Cassidy suggested the ads could be turned into a brochure which could then
be included with CLE materials.
Law School Initiatives: Laird reported that the subcommittee is working on increasing law school funding for LSPSP (Law School Public Service Program) and welcomes strategic ideas. They are also looking at creating a class that would expand on the substantive skills lawyers working in the public interest/nonprofit sector need, such as fundraising, media relations, etc.
New Business: Friedman raised that LAD generally talks about issues from the supply side of view and that he would like us to also discuss them from a demand side for clients. We could do a better job getting information to people (such as social workers and First Call for Help) who make client referrals. Elmore mentioned national beehive websites, which list resources for low-income people to find services. Trotzky added that legal aid publishes a number of booklets and fact sheets through its Community Legal Education Program. Additional discussion on this topic will take place at a future LAD meeting.
Trotzky requested that LAD members let Mischel know if they would be able to attend LAD meetings if they started at 7:30 rather than 8:00 a.m.
NEXT LAD COMMITTEE MEETING: March 8, 2005 at 8:00 a.m.
The November 9, 2004 meeting of the MSBA LAD Committee convened at 8:00 a.m. in the President's Room of the MSBA office. Tom Conlin and Katie Trotzky presided as co-chairs.
Attending in Person: Committee Members - Bruce Beneke, Pat Burns, Karen Canon, Ed Cassidy, Ellen Cha, Joe Dixon, Mary Durand, Sharon Elmore, Michael Friedman, Roy Ginsburg, Candee Goodman, Tom Goodman, Kathy Gross Schoen, Janine Laird, Jerry Lane, Bricker Lavik, David Lund, Tom Mielenhausen, Julie Nilsson, Caroline Palmer, Jim Patterson, Barbara Penn, Clare Scott, Roger Stageberg, Brad Thorsen. Others interested - Sue Pontinen, Nancy Mischel (MSBA staff).
Attending via Telephone: Doug Johnson, Mike Connelly
Introductions: Tom Conlin introduced Nancy Mischel, the new Access to Justice Director at the MSBA. Nancy comes to us from the Legal Services Advocacy Project which informs the state legislature about issues of concern to low income people. Among her roles at the MSBA, she will serve as a liaision between legal services programs and the bar and will be staffing the LAD Committee. We are very pleased to welcome her!
Microsoft Settlement: Jerry Lane reported that a church group appeared at the settlement hearing to argue they should receive some of the settlement proceeds since they had purchased Microsoft products. However, the judge approved the proposed settlement including the donation to the Legal Aid Foundation. Once the appeal period has run, the money may begin flowing as soon as January 2005 to the Legal Aid Foundation and LTAB for distribution
Legislation: Bruce Beneke reminded the Committee that last session, with help from the MN Realtor's Association, we came very close to getting an increase in real estate filing fees dedicated to legal services to help make up for the past three years of cuts. The effort will be the same this upcoming legislative session. The signs are encouraging, but the state will have a substantial budget deficit to address. Conlin urged committee members who have connections to any of the newly elected House members to request their support of the bill.
State Planning Commission: Tom Mielenhausen reported that the last formal meeting of this group will be December 15. The question is whether and in what form a body will emerge to work on implementation of the Commission's recommendations. Mielenhausen would like to see a body that might meet periodically, acting as an advisory group to help LSAC and LTAB Board make better, more informed decisions about where money should be distributed. Conlin reminded the group that the State Planning Commission was originally formed to address the Legal Services Corporation's requirement that the configuration of legal services within Minnesota be examined. The Commission's work has continued beyond its report to the LSC.
Attorney Registration Fee Increase Proposal: Katie Trotzky began a discussion regarding seeking MSBA support for a resolution in support of increasing the attorney registration fee, with the increase going towards legal aid and pro bono. This is a recommendation from the Interim Report of the State Planning Commission. The new structure of the MSBA does create some question about where such a resolution from LAD would go next. Likely it would be sent to one of the five assembly committees and from there to the general assembly for a vote.
A discussion ensued regarding the organized support that went into the last registration fee increase proposal. LAD members who were involved in that effort educated the rest of the Committee about the background work that needs to be done before moving forward. LAD agreed there is a need for a subgroup of LAD to do this background work. Lane, Trotzky, Mielenhausen and Conlin agreed to form such a group. The Committee agreed to table the resolution for the time being. Tom Johnson reminded the group that funding for legal services helps not just the access to justice issue, but the administration of justice. It helps ensure cases are handled more quickly, which aids all attorneys and all clients.
Pro Bono Council: Karen Canon updated the Committee briefly on the work of the Pro Bono Council. The Council is still figuring out what it will do and who should be included in its work. The Council meets next on November 17 at noon. A more complete update from Canon will take place at the January LAD meeting.
Judiciary: Ed Cassidy reported that with the new system established whereby one judge oversees pro bono fund raising in each district, the focus now shifts to maintaining that system. In addition, an effort is underway to have every judge in the state sign a letter in support of pro bono similar to what was done in Hennepin and Ramsey County.
Websites: Clare Scott reported that a general plan for navigation of the websites was completed. They have been making up a wish list for the sites and will have a more detailed timeline for website tasks at the next LAD meeting.
Marketing: Kathy Gross Schoen reported the group has been trying to get the LAD marketing ads placed at no-cost in various publications but it has not been going well. Trotzky asked about the results of the last ad campaign. Gross Schoen reported that the ad ran only once in Bench & Bar and that no reliable results can be measured from that; a consistent running of the ad in several publications is necessary before results should be measured.
The Committee agreed to delete the Database Subcommittee from the standing reports list, since no one could recollect the history or purpose of the subcommittee. A standing report from the Law School Initiatives will be substituted.
Conlin wrapped up the meeting by asking how LAD can be of service to organizations around the table. LAD wants to be proactive and do more than just keep people informed. Those organizations that provide legal services to the disadvantaged are asked to come with ideas next time about how LAD can help.
NEXT LAD COMMITTEE MEETING: January 11, 2005 at 8:00 a.m.
MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Comittee
September 14, 2004
The September 14, 2004 meeting of the MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee (LAD) convened at 8:00 a.m. in the President’s Room of the Minnesota State Bar Association office. Thomas J. Conlin and Katie Trotzky presided as co-chairs.
ATTENDING/IN PERSON: Committee Members—Stephen F. Befort, Karen J. Canon, Edward Q. Cassidy, Erika N. Donner, Mary T. Durand, Sharon L. Elmore, Michael Friedman, David B. Galle, Roy S. Ginsburg, Candee Goodman, Thomas H. Goodman, Kathy Gross Schoen, Thomas J. Johnson, Janine A. Laird, Jeremy Lane, Bricker L. Lavik, David C. Lund, Julianne Nilsson, Caroline S. Palmer, Clare B. Scott, Roger V. Stageberg, Bradley C. Thorsen and Daniel R. Tyson. Others interested—Jim Baillie, Alanna Morovitz (MSBA).
ATTENDING/TELEPHONE: Sarah J. Shella-Stevens, Patty Murto and Mike Connelly.
After attendees introduced themselves the following agenda was presented:
MEETING SCHEDULE: Tom Conlin, co-chair, reminded everyone to mark their calendars for the upcoming meeting dates. The next meeting of the committee is November 9, 2004. Subsequent scheduled meeting dates are: January 11, 2005, March 8, 2005 and May 20, 2005.
STATUS REPORT - PRO BONO DEVELOPMENT DIRECTOR/ACCESS TO JUSTICE DIRECTOR POSITIONS: Tom Conlin reported that applications have been received and interview conducted for both full time positions at the MSBA. Both positions should be filled by October, and both of these new employees will serve as staff to LAD.
REPORT ON CALL TO HONOR: Jim Baillie presented a 13-page report, A Call to Honor, which summarized the year of pro bono and briefly discussed the ten goals of the LAD Committee for the 2003-04 year. The committee thanked Jim for his past chairmanship efforts.
MICROSOFT SETTLEMENT FUND STATUS: Jerry Lane reported on money allocated for LAD from recent Minnesota Microsoft settlement. Jerry stated that this allocation is an unconditional payment (endowment) as opposed to cy pres funds. If approved by Judge Bruce Peterson, the distribution would likely be in 2005. This new money, approximated $2.5 million, will be added to the existing statewide endowment and will bring the total endowment to close to $4 million. The earnings on this money will be distributed annually, through the LSAC/LTAB distribution process. Jerry stated that there has been considerable national attention to this endowment and it would be a terrific “ripple effect” for the disadvantaged legal assistance program.
LEGISLATIVE UPDATE: In Bruce Beneke’s absence Jerry Lane reported there was a $3.5 million initiative of increasing the real estate document filing fee before the legislature. The Senate supported this initiative but it failed to pass due to prosecutor’s needs taking priority. Again this year there will be a “feeding frenzy” at the appropriation table. There is a current state appropriation of $6.5 million. Jerry reports the real estate document filing fee initiative will be presented with renewed energy. He also stated that, although this state appropriation sounds like a large amount of money, in reality it replaces the losses of the last five years for pro bono funding and the dive of IOLTA funds due to low interest rates.
Jerry emphasized the need to contact your legislator and urge the passing of the real estate document filing fee increase. The committee suggested that Jerry prepare a paragraph letter to assist anyone interested in sending a plea to their legislator. Jerry agreed to prepare this for distribution.
JUDICIARY UPDATE: Ed Cassidy reported on the establishment of a district-by-district program where one judge would oversee pro bono fund raising and new judge training for each district. This program is in the “care and feeding” stages with Judge Blatz as a forceful proponent. Hennepin County and Ramsey County both sent letters with signatures of all judges in support. This is the first time in the 150-year history of the court that all judges have gotten together and written such a letter.
Patty Murto requested a copy of both letters be sent to her.
LAUNCH OF LegalCORPS: Brad Thorsen reported that LegalCORPS is launched but only taking referrals at this point. There is a statewide telephone number: 1-888-454-5267 or locally 612-752-6678. E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
IOLTA/LTAB/LSAC: Joe Genereux and Roger Stageberg met with USBANK for the 2004-05 year plan and encouraged the bank to increase interest rates on IOLTA funds.
PRO BONO SPENDING: Bricker Lavik handed out a packet detailing his research on the 2003-04 spending for pro bono. It breaks down the three primary delivery systems (models) of where the money was used. There are draft comments at Tab 8 by Bruce, Jerry and Kathy.
WEBSITES: Sharon Elmore presented a report on the ProJusticeMN.org and LawHelpMN.org websites. A committee has been doing some usability testing on three groups (law students, staff, legal aid attorneys and volunteer attorneys). They are ready to start implementing changes to LawHelpMN.org.
There was a proposal by the LAD committee to establish a subcommittee for the website work and hopefully this subcommittee could prepare a report for the November meeting on the status of website testing. Sharon Elmore, Tom Goodman and Clare Scott volunteered to co-chair this subcommittee. They will recruit and assemble subcommittee members, many from the ranks of previous “stakeholders” meetings.
PRO BONO COUNCIL TASK FORCE: Karen Canon reported on statewide initiatives and the four objectives of the Pro Bono Council. There are 21 members on this task force and the four objectives are: (1) set up a permanent structure; (2) strategy arm of council; (3) oversee statewide initiatives and (4) full partner in state legal services planning body.
The Pro Bono Council Task Force has met twice and is focused on establishing a mission statement and who would be taking what steps to meet objectives. MVAP is a possible vehicle for this initiative rather than the Pro Bono Council so there is no overlap. There will be a report presented at the November 9 LAD Committee meeting.
PUBLICITY/MARKETING: Kathy Gross Schoen and Clare Scott discussed the efforts of this subcommittee. A logo for LAD has been established and there is an ad in circulation to recruit new pro bono volunteers. The areas of their work are (1) advertising; (2) public relations; (3) website (major focus); and (4) the MSBA convention. They asked members to keep them abreast of stories or news they could use in their ad campaigns. There was a discussion by the LAD Committee of how success of publicity and marketing can be measured. Clare Scott stated that a designated phone line has been one way to track marketing success.
LAD GOALS FOR 2004-05: Katie Trotzky led a general discussion on goals for the committee this year. Major topics to consider were: (1) required pro bono reporting; (2) attorney registration fee increase; and (3) real estate filing fee increase. Jerry Lane stated that the resources commission supports Nos. 1 and 2. The state bar association passed these but they were turned down by the Supreme Court. Jerry felt the goal of the LAD Committee should be to focus on getting support for the raising of the registration fee. Ed Cassidy suggested that the committee harness this goal with the mandatory pro bono reporting. There was discussion of the pros and cons of linking the two goals under one effort. There was information offered which suggested that the northern segment of bar association members are opposed to the registration fee increase.
Tom Conlin mentioned examples of mandatory reporting in Florida, Maryland and Nevada which led to the increase of pro bono work in those states. There was more discussion whether the LAD Committee wants to approve the concept of linking the two goals. Some discussion was had of letting the planning commission make the recommendation and only then should the MSBA get behind this.
Jerry Lane suggested a subcommittee should be formed to explore this goal. Discussion was then had on the necessity of another subcommittee being needed. The resources committee is involved and looking at this goal also.
Brad Thorsen, Janine Laird, Mary Durand and Jerry Lane volunteered to look into whether the LAD committee should work on joining mandatory reporting and increase in registration fee together as one goal.
Bricker Lavik suggested a goal of meeting or exceeding our recruiting goal from last year. Last year 500 new pro bono lawyers were involved and 1,000 new pro bono cases were handled. Bricker believed the committee should attempt the goal of increasing these numbers. There was a discussion within the committee on the idea of a subcommittee handling this goal. Karen Canon suggested that the Pro Bono Council Task Force handle this project. There were comments about the issue of keeping statistics and letting groups know the number increase goal. There was a general agreement that the increase was important and a number should be determined, letters should be sent to groups stating we are continuing what we’re doing with the possibility of finding a new way to count so our numbers increase and accurately reflect the efforts.
Katie Trotzky asked for a motion to support the legislative initiative. Janine Laird made the motion, Clare Scott seconded the motion. The motion was carried unanimously.
Patty Murto reported to the group that they had received a note from Congressman Oberstar’s office that Violence Against Women was granted $627,099. This is the largest grant of its kind for northern Minnesota.
The meeting was adjourned at 9:50 a.m. The next meeting of the LAD Committee will be November 9, 2004.
Tom Mielenhausen chaired the meeting; Co-chair Barbara Penn was not able to attend. Those attending in person included Jim Baillie, Bruce Beneke, Karen Canon, Mary Durand, Sharon Elmore, Sharon Fischlowitz, Michael Friedman, Roy Ginsburg, Candee Goodman, Ken Kohnstamm, Janine Laird, Bricker Lavik, David Lund, Angie McCaffrey, Michelle McCullogh, Michele Garnett McKenzie, Caroline Palmer, Sue Pontinen, Roger Stageberg, David Stowman, Brad Thorsen, Katie Trotzky and Judge Lloyd Zimmerman, Nancy Kleeman of the MSBA staff, and law firm marketers Clare Scott, Jennifer Metz, Esther Larson and Kathy Gross Schoen. Those attending on the phone included Patty Murto, Sarah Shella-Stevens, Bill Thompson and Nancy Wallrich of the MSBA staff.
Judge Zimmerman reported on the Judicial District Pro Bono Committee activities. The project is taking a lot of energy but it is well worth it since the goal is to create something that will live on. All districts but the 9th have created a committee. The 4th is trying to establish a blueprint for a model. They have put together a letter signed by all 61 Hennepin County judges and all federal judges chambered in Minneapolis. It was handed out to everyone attending the Fund for the Legal Aid Society annual dinner. Goodman is working with marketing folks to publicize this effort. Once Hennepin did this, the 2nd decided to do a letter also signed by all the Ramsey County judges that will be sent to every lawyer in the district. There is a friendly competition. Gross Schoen reported that a marketing kit has been developed and HCBA will mail it to about 40 media outlets.
Fischlowitz reported on law student volunteer data and the growing success of the Law School Public Service Program. She noted that she is joining Equal Justice Works in Washington DC. She introduced new MJF Executive Director Janine Laird who starts Monday. The committee thanked Sharon for her wonderful work with MJF for many years. It was noted that the law student program is critical to the future. The Law School Initiatives Committee will continue to advise the program. The Legal Scholarship for Equal Justice course will be at Hamline next school year.
Everyone was introduced with a special welcome to new members and to MSBA president-elect David Stowman.
Beneke gave a legislative update. When the regular session ended, the judiciary finance bill died; it included the Senate proposal for a $3.5 million increase for civil legal aid based on increasing the real estate filing surcharge died. The House bill had a $1.5 million decrease to the base. There has been lots of exploration about a possible special session especially because of the large gap in public defender funding. There are behind the scenes conversation about whether civil legal services might be included in some negotiated bill if there is a special session. The bar will advocate for adequate public defender funding and for the revenue-neutral civil legal aid money.
Mielenhausen asked about MSBA staffing status. Baillie said staffing is up in the air because having two director-level staff instead of one is dependent on $40,000 of outside money coming in (which was committed by the Coalition if the legislature adopted at least a $2 million annual increase). If the legislature doesn’t act, the money will have to be pieced together from other sources. Beneke met with Executive Director Tim Groshens exploring options including potential bridge funding and the allocation of duties depending on various options. The Coalition and LAD would like to keep moving forward with the partnership and increased support for access to justice broadly and pro bono specifically.
Kleeman reported on the Legal Services Planning Commission which the Chief Justice has agreed to extend until December 31, 2004. A key task will be to propose the structure for an ongoing planning process. It will also keep moving forward on its recommendations some of which need work to be completed by December. In that regard Mielenhausen emphasized the recommendations on requiring anonymous reporting of pro bono and increasing the attorney registration fee add on for legal aid. The Commission needs people from LAD to help with these and the recommendations will need to go through LAD for a recommendation to the MSBA. It has been clear that there is lots of frustration with not having documentation about the extent of pro bono services in Minnesota. Mielenhausen has put together a full package of past materials which need to be updated with continuing results from Florida and new required reporting programs in Nevada and Maryland. He emphasized that it’s important not to lose momentum on this. Planning must start now on how to move this forward.
Everyone was encouraged to sign up for projects already described and others by using the checklist handed out at each place and faxed to those on the phone. Those not present will be contacted to get them to sign up as well.
The LegalCORPS report was given by Wallrich. This business pro bono project is now a separate 501(c)(3) housed at the MSBA with an independent board chaired by Joe Genereux at Dorsey. The program is actively trying to raise money; about $22,000 has been raised so far with a major Bush proposal pending (decision in July). They hope to begin to actively place cases in the next month with fuller operations following the availability of funds. Funding would be used to support the pro bono position at the MSBA as well as the front line case placement and attorney recruitment work that will be done by Volunteer Lawyers Network.
Canon reported on the Pro Bono Council. A written report was circulated before the meeting. The proposed initial mission of the Pro Bono Council will be to (1) Function as the strategy and policy arm of pro bono in Minnesota, (2) Serve as an umbrella organization and voice for local pro bono programs, (3) Oversee current statewide pro bono initiatives and develop new initiatives to ensure eligible clients across the state receive the services of volunteer lawyers, and (4) Be a full partner in the state legal services planning process/body.
Two resolutions were presented for action: First, LAD will establish a Pro Bono Council Task Force commencing July 1, 2004, for one year and disband the subcommittee since the Task Force will essentially continue its work. Second, the Task Force is charged with the initial objectives and timelines set forth in the Pro Bono Council Subcommittee report. The Subcommittee further recommends that the Task Force itself remain under LAD and be staffed by the Pro Bono Development Director in its initial year or, if such position does not continue next year, by the MSBA staff person for LAD. The Subcommittee recognizes that if the full-time pro bono position is not funded or filled for some reason, some staffing of the Task Force may have to be done on a volunteer basis.
They suggest spending a year with representatives of all the pro bono players statewide exploring the best way to set up the future council. A list of proposed participants will be given to the LAD co-chairs. The LAD chairs will make the composition decisions. It was moved and seconded to adopt the resolutions as stated above. Discussion followed. Concerns were expressed about spinning off of too many new separately incorporated groups all of which compete for the same pot of limited funding. There was agreement about the need for more interaction among pro bono programs and for pro bono to have its own "voice." It was noted that LAD historically has been the voice for the broad legal services community including pro bono programs so the role of LAD in the long run needs careful consideration including making sure that there is a meeting place for all providers to come together. Pro bono is one strategy as part of a comprehensive delivery system. It was suggested that a more unified voice with funding sources will be helpful. Canon noted that the task force is trying not to prejudge any of the issues. After the discussion the motion carried.
Goodman introduced the law firm marketing folks who were able to attend; the entire group is about 12 people. Lavik and Conlin co-chaired the publicity subcommittee which wanted to thank the marketers for their extraordinary efforts. Gross Schoen commented on how enjoyable it was for people who normally are competing to have the chance to work together. There were four subgroups: PR, advertising, website and convention. All the materials were donated!
Scott talked about advertising, branding LAD, and the Call to Honor. She passed out the final logo. A number of places will run ads at no charge as they have space. There are three ad series: rediscover the true meaning of law; family law; and transactional work. Lavik noted that there was a conscious decision to make LAD the single entry point which should benefit the bar and LAD. There will be a special 612 call in number and efforts will be made to track the calls. Metz reported on the 4th district/HCBA effort. The judges letter and one of the Baillie columns has been sent to various media outlets. There is also follow up with all reporters who did initial stories on Baillie.
Larson talked about the visibility at the convention including being part of the MSBA. For the general assembly the group put together a brochure that will be on all the chairs. Also there will be two versions of table tents for each table. All of these can be used as follow up. There are also display boards that will be used in the halls at the convention. Business cards will be requested at the booth with a drawing for a nice item. The cards will be reviewed after the convention to recruit for pro bono. A sign up sheet was circulated for volunteers to help at the convention booth.
Baillie then presented plaques for exceptional assistance to the four marketers present at the meeting complimenting them for the ways in which glimmers of ideas bore fruit and brought results beyond what anyone could have imagined. The four were Clare Scott, Jennifer Metz, Esther Larson and Kathy Gross Schoen. The others who will also receive plaques include Becky Bickett, Kathryn Dirks, Gloria Frederick, Jenny Frost, Kelly Griffin, Sarah Murphy, Amanda Walsh and Andrea Wood..
Mielenhausen thanked Kleeman for her 20 years of work at the MSBA noting the many clients who were served because of her efforts.
Baillie thanked everyone for their efforts this year, for the diversity and extent of the activities and for moving to a new order of magnitude in what’s being done in Minnesota. Legal services efforts are second to none yet we recognize that we can always improve and expand. As the officers travel around the state, they talk about the crisis in legal services and what the MSBA and members are doing to respond. The responses from members is that this is the right thing to do. This will be celebrated at the convention; it will be a pro bono party. Also, Sandy D’Alemberte will be an inspirational speaker on pro bono including the success of required reporting in Florida.
Stowman commented on how generous bar members are in donating their time -- the spirit is powerful. He noted that he is looking forward to working with LAD and what it generates in the multiplier effect from the rest of the profession.
Mielenhausen mentioned that outgoing chairs are asked to recommend incoming chairs to the president-elect. He and Barbara Penn are suggesting Katie Trotzky and Tom Conlin as co-chairs for the coming year. Mielenhausen and Penn were thanked for their three and two years of service respectively as co-chairs. Much has been accomplished during that time.
If members haven’t responded to the recent inquiry from the MSBA about continuing on this committee, please do so ASAP as people who don’t respond will be dropped. Kleeman noted that LAD is the most requested committee by new lawyers and others solicited about their interest in committee service and there is a 50 member limit.
McKenzie announced that the Minnesota Advocates annual asylum conference with CLE credits will be held on June 4. She encouraged attendance.
The Oakes project at Hamline needs more alums to form pro bono partnerships with law students. Palmer noted that the MN AIDs Legal Project has had great success with this effort. Fischlowitz commented that similar projects will be happening at all four law schools
McCaffrey talked about the symposium held ten years ago on law school initiatives and the law journal that followed documenting the symposium. It is time for another journal devoted to documenting the MN law school initiatives model and imagining the future. She asked people to sign up to help with what is called Pro Bono Journal on the sign up sheet.
Elmore reported that a large stakeholders group has been assembled to work on website matters including the branding with the new LAD logo, having a central pro bono entry point and integrating the entry point with ProJustice and LawHelp. The group is meeting regularly and making good progress.
Goodman reported that the initiative to contact the 100 largest law firms is continuing and additional help is needed. This is also on the sign up sheet.
The family law subcommittee will be meeting again this summer to continue work on a resources directory and joint efforts with the MSBA’s pro se implementation committee which is working with the LPRB and court forms committee on unbundling.
Members were again encouraged to sign up for one or more working committees and then the meeting was adjourned.
Barbara Penn chaired the meeting. Those attending included presenters Claire Scott and Kathy Gross Schoen and Tom Conlin, Bricker Lavik, Judge Lloyd Zimmerman, Candee Goodman, Sharon Fischlowitz, Michael Friedman, Caroline Palmer, David Lund, Bruce Beneke, Jerry Lane, Sue Pontinen, Mary Durand, Brad Thorsen, Michele McKenzie, Roy Ginsburg, Sheila Stuhlman, Jean Lastine, Sharon Elmore, Karen Canon, Nancy Wallrich (staff), Joe Dixon, Jim Baillie, Dan Tyson, and Tom Mielenhausen, Patty Murto, Mike Connolly and Sarah Shella-Stevens by phone, and Nancy Kleeman (staff).
The ad hoc marketing group made a presentation. Lavik and Conlin co-chair the marketing subcommittee. Lavik began by giving some background. A key factor is marketing to lawyers to get more of them to do more pro bono. Conlin recruited law firm marketing people to help with the effort. They were asked to put together a comprehensive marketing campaign and were given carte blanche to use their creativity. The core group has been meeting for close to a year to do groundwork on LAD and pro bono in MN. They in turn recruited a consortium of marketing people that do a volunteer project each year who selected this project for this year. So Castaneda Williams is working on behalf of the ad federation group to start to build a strategy and brand for LAD and pro bono. The project is divided into advertising and recognition. Committee members offered many thanks for all the work past and future. This is a comprehensive long-term project initially focusing on lawyers and possibly in the future looking outward to the client and broader community.
Kathy Gross Schoen from Robins and Claire Scott from Fredrikson presented the proposed project. The client/brand is for Legal Assistance for the Disadvantaged. They took the group through a power point presentation covering client analysis (strengths, vulnerabilities and opportunities), target audience, brand development considerations, objectives and strategies, and tactic recommendations (including a new web site). The presentation is available at
Questions and discussion followed.
Q: Dixon – This is a terrific effort and approach. What is the timeline?
Q: Conlin – One question is whether there is any way of building into
the proposed website a protocol that would help to measure if someone recruited
through this campaign is a new volunteer.
Q: Conlin -- could we have a format on the web site that asks a couple of simple questions, e.g., are you new to pro bono or haven’t taken a case for a year? Also multiple choice/drop down of how got to the site? It was pointed out that with firms counting and pro bono programs through which firm lawyers work, there is some double counting. May need to start without a baseline. Kleeman noted that the Join form for the ProJustice site does ask if someone is currently volunteering. So new volunteers can be tracked on that site.
Q: Lane -- some items in the proposed plan are close-ended but a website is
something that requires maintenance and staffing. How will this be handled?
Elmore: Clarified how ProJusticeMN works and noted that many existing and new
capabilities would work well for what the PR committee has in mind without needing
to develop these again on a new site. It will be very important to coordinate
with Pro Bono Net in New York. One new tool that will make the directory entries
easily searchable should be ready soon and can link to/from easily. It was designed
with other bar associations that wanted an entry point separate from their Pro
Bono Net (ProJustice) sites and also to make the opportunities portion of Pro
Bono Net sites more accessible and versatile. Also, the Coalition is setting
up usability testing for ProJustice and has some money for some upgrades. On
March 22 at 10 a.m. at the MSBA there will be a stakeholders meeting to give
input about both www.ProJusticeMN.org and www.LawHelpMN.org (which is designed
for the public) and marketing people will be invited and are encouraged to attend
along with other LAD representatives.
Q: Fischlowitz: is this where lawyers would go to find opportunities for specific
Goodman: want people coming to the site and want to start soon so that Nancy Wallrich is still at the other end of the phone to take calls if people have questions.
Schoen showed examples of sites developed by the group that would do the site (www.10floor.com). A few examples of their work include: www.polaris.edu and www.medina.lib.oh.us Conlin reiterated that they are prepared to do design, layout and development for $1,500 which the firms will raise.
Q: Penn: If full committee approves today as an overall plan, who has ongoing
responsibility for development decisions and things like the logo, etc?
Schoen -- handed out timeline -- marketers and LAD volunteers will track.
It was moved, seconded and carried that the LAD committee commend the marketing and ad folks and approve the plan as distributed today with the understanding that the initial web site costs will be covered by donations.
Q: Lane: Just wanted to clarify that the planners contemplate that MSBA staff
would maintain the new site.
There was some discussion about having the site include the possibility for a backend database function. This must be carefully thought through with people who have current sites to avoid duplication and ensure usability and compatibility.
A sheet with draft logos was handed out and feedback was solicited. The PR folks thought that the gavel is strongest but the logo needs to work on web for lawyers and later with clients. Beneke commented that LAD represents access to civil justice for low-income and disadvantaged Minnesotans in the broadest sense (including pro bono) and the campaign/logo needs to reflect that. The courthouse image seems more appropriate. Other comments were that the logo should be welcoming and that the gavel may signify meetings to lawyers not access to justice. Several liked the courthouse image. Conlin invited LAD members to submit other feedback as soon as possible.
Fischlowitz encouraged attendance at the March 10 recognition ceremony for the 5th class of law students who contributed at least 50 hours of service during law school as part of the Law School Public Service Program. It will be at the University of Minnesota Law School from 5 to 7. Speakers include Justice Paul Anderson and Sen. Mee Moua. MJF figures that 150-200 who are graduating (out of a graduating class of about 800) have done 50 hours. Many students don’t turn in their hours including some who say it debases service to turn in hours. MJF doesn’t count clinic hours which would bring in lots more people. The program is working well and the provider community makes plenty of placements available. It is crucial to have practitioners at the ceremony to help create a seamless transition from law school into the profession.
Fischlowitz also announced the second annual Legal Scholarship for Equal Justice symposium on the morning of April 12 at the U of M Law School with NYU Law Professor Sylvia Law. Her fields include women’s rights, gender issues, welfare and health access issues. The panel discussion will focus on health care access.
Lastine gave a brief update on the family law subcommittee. It is focusing on program priorities and where there are self help clinics. The subcommittee has a law student volunteer to help gather information. They are also coordinating with the MSBA’s Pro Se Committee which is looking at unbundling and improving access by simplifying some family court rules.
Wallrich reminded people about the Lawyering for the Soul CLE on March 23. Details can be found at http://www.mnbar.org/news/probono.htm.
Goodman reported on behalf of Judge Zimmerman about the Judiciary subcommittee. The 4th district meeting was held in Judge Oleisky’s courtroom and went really well. They are looking for buy in from the Federal bench so both Judges Jim and Marilyn Rosenbaum will attend the next meeting. The goal of these judicial district committees is to promote and recognize pro bono. Lavik noted that this statewide effort is moving ahead in all but one or two districts at this point.
A list was circulated for volunteers to review the nominations for the Bernard Becker Legal Services Staff and Volunteer Law Student Awards that will be presented at the April 16 MSBA Board of Governors meeting.
Conlin proposed creation of an MSBA pro bono award to be given to MSBA member (s) annually. In addition he proposed that this award be named the Jim Baillie Pro Bono Award. It was moved, seconded and carried to recommend to the MSBA that this award be created. A working group will develop the criteria for the award. Conlin has begun to collect criteria and will draft a proposal. Tyson and Beneke volunteered to help.
It was noted that meeting notes from the February 26 joint meeting of LAD and the Legal Services Planning Commission will be posted soon on the MSBA web site.
Penn recognized and welcomed two people who were attending their first LAD meeting -- Sharon Elmore and Caroline Palmer.
Legal Services Planning Commission
MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee
February 26, 2004 Meeting Notes
Justice Sam Hanson chaired the meeting. Attendees included Co-Chair Judge Terri Stoneburner, Jim Baillie, Charlie Bateman, Bruce Beneke, Bob Blatti, Gail Chang Bohr, Karen Canon, Tom Conlin, Mike Connolly, Joe Dixon, Mary Durand, Paula Erdmann, Anita Fineday, Michael Friedman, Sharon Fischlowitz, Kent Gernander, Candee Goodman, Jean Hammink, Beverly Heydinger, Gary Hird, Karen Sullivan Hook, Nancy Kleeman (staff), Peter Knapp, Jerry Lane, Jean Lastine, Bricker Lavik, Susan Ledray, Jaynie Leung, David Lund, Michele Garnett McKenzie, Tom Mielenhausen, Patty Murto, Judge Paul Nelson, Larry Nicol, Maureen O’Connell, Barbara Penn, Floyd Pnewski, Steve Reyelts, Andrea Rubenstein, Jorge Saavedra, Sally Scoggin, Sarah Shella-Stevens, Julie Stanberg (guest), Maggie Skelton (guest), Sheila Stuhlman, Brad Thorsen, Renee Tomatz, John Ursu, and Nancy Wallrich (staff).
Justice Hanson welcomed everyone and noted that we have been on two tracks. The first was LSC program configuration. Now we are looking to the bigger picture, statewide planning. The pro bono subcommittee has been gearing up for the second phase. Today we will look through the lens of pro bono to bring it into the discussion in a strong way. First we will have three brief subcommittee reports, then a word about the LAD committee, then a discussion of pro bono.
Sally Scoggin reported for the resources subcommittee which has been working on legislative funding, an increase in attorney registration fees, and, with other subcommittees, on data gathering through a revised IOLTA/LSAC application and possible infrastructure savings. At the March full commission meeting the subcommittee will be recommending that the commission push for a $75 increase in the attorney registration fee (lower for low-income and new attorneys), with $25 of the increase earmarked for pro bono activities. The current fee is (generally) $218 with $50 earmarked for legal services. The subcommittee has also worked hard on a joint IOLTA/LSAC application. Most providers apply to both bodies. The joint application would enable both bodies to make more informed decisions because it would provide more consistent information about providers, and it would enable programs to file one form for both entities.
Jerry Lane reported on progress with respect to a possible increase in funding for legal aid including pro bono programs during the 2004 legislature. The proposal would add a $2 surcharge to certain real estate filing fees with a $3 million appropriation for legal services based on the revenue source (similar to what was done twice in the early 90s). Recording fees are already in play because the county recorders have a bill to double fees ($20 increase). Sponsorship commitments include Senators Knutson, Neuville, Ranum and Cohen. There is a meeting this afternoon with House committee chair Steve Smith and Glenn Dorfman from the MN Realtors Association who is a key supporter. [UPDATE: Smith agreed to be the lead author in the House with Representatives Entenza, Strachan, Meslow, and Lesch as co-authors. The bill has been introduced as HF 2585.] Dorfman has also had a supportive meeting with the Governor’s chief of staff Dan McElroy
Peter Knapp reported that the best practices subcommittee has been gathering information on planning and oversight committees in various states. If asked to imagine any plausible structure, we could find one like that somewhere. There is a wide range of experimentation. Membership varies widely from 9-10 to 30-40 members. Many committees are under bar associations; some are under the state court system. Full-time professional staff varies from 4+ to 1 fulltime equivalent (sometimes combining time from multiple positions). The amount of centralized authority varies from Washington state’s centralized committee with a great deal of oversight and control over funding and planning, to California, at the opposite end, which is much more diffuse, in part because the state is so large with so many programs and bar associations. Knapp reported that he was impressed with Michigan’s model on paper, but he learned that the configuration process there so badly damaged cooperation and communication that program planning has essentially stopped and efforts are focused on repairing the damage. Many states are still in early stages; Minnesota will need to make its own decisions. There is much experimentation but it is too early for any program to report long-term success.
Beverly Heydinger reported on the client needs subcommittee, thanking best practices for agreeing to try to find out how cost-effective needs assessments are being done in other states (looking at states beyond those with major social science research approaches). Getting a handle on good ways to get information about client needs is challenging. It’s difficult to collect good demographic information about clients served statewide and whether current services are equitably distributed. Work on the joint application for funding will help with that effort. The subcommittee is now looking at barriers to access. Buff-colored handout is a draft survey under review for use to collect a information from a sampling of social services agencies around the state to help identify barriers and ways in which barriers can be overcome. The subcommittee wants to be sure that the commission’s report shows that attention has been paid to this issue and that the recommendations flow from client needs. The subcommittee would like feedback on the survey. The intent is for commission members to email or fax the survey to selected agencies and to follow up with telephone interviews. Program/delivery subcommittee will be asked to get legal services providers to respond to the survey as well. The subcommittee is also working on recommendations for the March meeting. The subcommittee will meet by phone conference on March 9 at 3:00 p.m. and all are invited.
Justice Hanson noted that program and delivery subcommittee is meeting March 11 from 11 a.m. – 2 p.m. at the Judicial Center (with the resources subcommittee sharing one major agenda item on possible cost savings and greater coordination) and all are invited.
Jim Baillie gave an overview of the MSBA’s Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee, a standing committee that works on access to civil legal services including pro bono issues. The committee goes back to 1981 and is one of the things that has made Minnesota’s system better, in part because of continuity since the early 90s. Barbara Penn and Tom Mielenhausen are the current chairs, continuing a tradition of co-chairs from the private bar and the legal services community. [Handout materials were described – President’s pages, update on 2003-04 pro bono initiatives and a law review article by Baillie]. This year there has been an extensive cooperative effort between LAD and Baillie as MSBA president. LAD adopted Baillie’s recommendation for 10 things to get done this year. Committee members and others have formed subcommittees to work on these pro bono initiatives. Baillie anticipates both one-year and long-term effects.
Steve Reyelts, chair of the pro bono subcommittee, introduced Steve Scudder. Scudder, who is with the ABA in Chicago, is originally from Omaha, where his father was a legal services attorney. He graduated from Hampshire College in Massachusetts and Franklin Pierce Law Center in New Hampshire. Scudder lives in Concord NH. He was in private practice and then was hired by the New Hampshire Bar Association to establish a pro bono program housed with bar and integrated with their lawyer referral service. This job expanded to cover the whole panoply of legal services for the New Hampshire Bar Association. He worked as consultant for the ABA before his appointment in 1994 as director of the ABA’s Center for Pro Bono. He continues to live in New Hampshire, although job is in Chicago. In 1996 he was appointed counsel for the ABA Pro Bono Committee and oversees pro bono efforts all around the country. Reyelts expressed appreciation for the ABA’s assistance in getting him here.
Notes from Scudder’s presentation appear below. His presentation outline is attached and will be posted with the notes on the web site.
Steve Scudder: It’s wonderful to talk about pro bono. He noted how LSC funding and regulatory rules can get in the way of program development. He outlined the recent history of pro bono. LSC, in 1974, did a delivery systems study and looked at 35 different programs. The study concluded that a model was viable if it demonstrated feasibility, and did well on cost, quality of service, and impact on client needs, among other things.
The study did not identify a “best delivery” model but concluded that a number of models can be effective at delivery. Pro bono, Judicare with a staff component, and contracts with private firms were three models that met the viability tests. Those three, particularly pro bono, have been widely used since the report was issued in 1980. Vouchers and other models have dropped out. Pro bono is the most fully developed of the three in last 30 years. A final note from study: LSC, clients, legal profession should concentrate on finding global delivery systems that include private attorneys fully integrated with staff attorneys. But Scudder questions whether full integration of private with staff attorney has happened, questions “why not?” and wonders “what are we going to do about it?”
Around the time this study came out, then- President Reagan decided to de-fund LSC. ABA mobilized to keep funding, had a march on Washington, took a strong stance, staved off attack, and kept funding at 2/3 level.
Then LSC required that 10% of funding (later upped to 12.5%) had to be used to support private attorney involvement. This directive engendered some hostility that became the “elephant in the room” no one wants to talk about. Hostility and lack of support by LSC, which did not provide any background, training or support to help with its mandate, left a difficult situation for development of pro bono in many LSC programs
There was a dramatic growth in the number of programs but quality of many was questionable and there was little incentive, other than the regulation, to support the programs. Some programs charged questionable things to PAI requirement. In some places, pro bono, like Cinderella, was put over in the ashes, and now we need to dust if off and bring it out and see what we can do with it.
ABA Pro Bono Committee has been engaging in dialogue with LSC programs to overcome
this history and has asked legal services communities to share their experiences
with problems getting private bar involved. Just talking about it has been very
Clients don’t care who provides the services: just want skilled lawyer who cares to be there to make a difference for them. Our job is to make sure as many lawyers as possible are available. Systemic global view, thinking about all resources, is so important.
The reconfiguration process was intense (not as much in Minnesota as other places) where the process left terrible feelings about LSC and about statewide vs. local programs. The ABA commissioned a study of pro bono in the context of reconfiguration. Results are available on the commission’s web site at http://www2.mnbar.org/committees/lad/impact-reconfiguration.pdf . Scudder also suggested that people go to the ABA’s Pro Bono webs site at www.abaprobono.org. It is fantasy to think reconfiguration happens in vacuum; staff, union contracts, local boards exist. In forced reconfiguration, even here in MN, it’s impossible to ask “if we are going to build a perfect system, what would it look like” because of all this other stuff, but still need to ask it. Even where reconfiguration was voluntary, focus is now so much on program structure, it takes away from delivery model focus. You can’t look at big global issues when focus is on program structure. We didn’t expect that. Effect was not just on pro bono; no delivery issues have been part of reconfiguration discussions.
What makes a good pro bono program? The ABA, as more programs developed, came up with set of standards to help and set benchmarks, Jim Baillie was one of principal people involved in developing these standards. They are not mandatory and not minimum standards, only aspirational goals. http://www.abanet.org/legalservices/probono/standards.html. Five key areas covered are: governance, effectiveness, relations with clients, relations with volunteers, and effectiveness of delivery.
The standards are used in consulting work, workshops and for training. Lots of programs have used them. It’s not coincidental that you start by talking about fact that every pro bono program needs some kind of governing committee, and it’s not typical for existing programs, especially with LSC-based programs. Imagine how different it would be if every program had a governing body that determined and ensured that the program had, and implemented, a mission; provided support and staff; did effective organizational planning; advocated for resources and management of resources; provided guidance over delivery of services and evaluation. If every program had such a board, pro bono would be different everywhere. If the board understood the rest of the standards, programs would be different. Pro bono programs generally don’t establish their own priorities. If they could, in consideration of volunteer needs/interest, and other providers in community, a program will establish itself as an independent component within the legal service delivery system.
If you had an effective delivery design, tailored to needs and circumstances, with intake; policies; placement system; tracking and oversight; effective record keeping; attorney supervision for non-attorney staff; quality assurance, it would make a difference: ongoing training support for volunteers; systems for regularly reviewing in context of other programs in state; sound fiscal management; cooperation and coordination with other programs; maximizing resources of state and local bar; take advantage of judicial support.
The ABA is reviewing the model code of judicial conduct and hopes to include language in commentary to one of rules about judicial support for pro bono. It is important for judges to be involved as leaders.
Another key component: program has to understand and focus on client concerns and what can clients bring to help support themselves.
There are195 pages of text with the standards. Pro bono is a whole lot more than matching a lawyer with a client. You need staff to support all of this.
How do you measure the value? It’s difficult to understand the evaluation issue without understanding the components that you have to have in place. Simply looking at the cost of placing an attorney with a client or the number of attorneys the program has misses the boat in a lot of ways.
There is no hard and fast formula for evaluating pro bono programs. Paul Doyle
of the Florida Bar Foundation has come up with list of questions related to
the pro bono standards and to specific programs and more global programs. The
Doyle’s questions are useful when assessing programs as consultants. He was coming at it as a funder, evaluating overall legal systems delivery system, not just pro bono.
Scudder than highlighted a few particular pro bono programs.
Legal Aid of West Texas-- 114 counties including Dallas (urban and rural); LSC funded program-- recently reconfigured and looked at what to do with pro bono as part of new model. All 13 branch offices have at least one pro bono staff person; 21 staff work for pro bono program. There is a pro bono oversight committee with diverse representation (judges/students/lay; client etc.). ..Dallas, as well as some of the other larger communities, have their own advisory boards. They do their own intake for eligibility, some in person, some by phone, some referrals from shelters, human services. Provides range of services pro bono, reduced fee, judicare and handles range of issues. Case priorities are set in conjunction with LSC model but are parallel and overlapping: not just “everything else goes to PAI.” Staff lawyers take some cases in-house. but mostly provide back up and support -- providing malpractice insurance, forms, CLE, volunteer law students and paralegals, mentoring, expenses, legal research, access to libraries of LSC programs, secretarial support. So this is an LSC funded program that effectively partners private and staff attorneys. It costs a lot. Gets support from Dallas bar and some other bar associations, but LSC program devotes significant resources to this program.
Idaho-- statewide program is the only pro bono program in state. It is housed at bar association. Has small sub-grant from Idaho Legal Aid, (not significant.) 3.2 full- time equivalent staff. Bar gives $5000 to support. It is a project of Bar Foundation that provides offices and other in-kind support. Does its own intake, referrals from legal aid, lawyer referral service, courts systems officers in each county, judges, private attorneys. Handles brief advice and full representation, full spectrum of issues, no reduced fee or judicare component.
Additional information gathered by ABA staff will be included with his outline.
Policy initiatives like mandatory reporting are a way to change the culture of pro bono. Maryland just finished 1st year and Florida its 10th year, of mandatory reporting. Tidbit from Maryland: 97.6% response rate, 47.8% reporting did some pro bono work, 52% not. Establishes a benchmark; then can see if promotional and support activities are having an impact. Maryland had higher proportions of response in rural areas than in urban area. 33.1 hours on average. Compare this to non-mandatory reporting study in NY that determined average hours 41.3 hours.
ABA model rule has 50 hours as benchmark but if every lawyer did 33 hours, the result would be not bad. ABA is about to undertake a national study. We don’t know how many lawyers and how many hours, but are frequently asked. Measure will be over course of next 18 months to establish a benchmark. State may contact the ABA about doing its own sample to compare with neighboring states.
Things that have to happen that go beyond model rules: need leadership from everyone. In Indiana it came from chief justice of Indiana Supreme Court who said “I’m going to change the culture by ensuring that 100% of IOLTA goes to support pro bono” [NOTE: Indiana was the last state to implement IOLTA so this allocation was part of convincing the court to start IOLTA]. Indiana also took from Florida the idea of circuit court pro bono committees. These committees work with private bar on funding, staff, planning, website, central oversight commission. Give incentive, leadership commitment. Judicial leadership is important at a lot of levels, just talking about it, showing up at award ceremonies, making presentation of awards – these all make a difference.
Different layers: when chief justice supports, other judges will, and lawyers become involved. When general counsel of corporation supports, in- house counsel supports. When corporate law departments do it, law firms they work with do it. When partners support and do pro bono, associates participate. When deans of law schools support, law students follow. Sense of commitment has to extend across the board. Won’t happen just because president of bar supports. Commission has opportunity to step back and ask what would perfect system look like; how to serve more clients, get more money, build partnerships with non-legal partners. This could have wonderful results.
QUESTION AND ANSWER SESSION:
Q: What is the role of the state bar association? What opportunities are there
for a bar association to be involved?
Q: How many state bar executive directors come to Equal Justice Conference”
Q: Have pro bono programs flourished and expanded where there is strong centralized
Q. Is there a state you think is the best example of state planning?
Q: How have you overcome concerns of some that pro bono will supplant rather
than supplement staffed legal services offices?
Q. The program that lost LSC funding (which will go to another Minnesota program
to serve that county) was a combined Judicare/staff model. The transfer might
lead to a reduction of Judicare and staff support for the private lawyers. How
has reconfiguration affected pro bono?
Q. If state has another dollar to spend, what model should be funded?
Q. How does total cost of well-run pro bono program compare to staff or judicare
Q. Some opponents to funding for staff programs suggest pro bono is a less
expensive, equally effective approach.
Q. With respect to accountability, are pro bono programs worse or better than
other models and how can pro bono programs provide effective quality assurance
Q. How do pro bono programs ensure they are addressing most important client
needs and how do they do needs assessments?
Q. Aren’t priorities driven by interests/needs of volunteers? ?
Q. What types of pro bono programs are good at taking messy family law cases?
Q. ABA definition of pro bono seems to exclude a number of things necessary
to make pro bono work, like participating in planning commissions like this
Q. What definitions are used in Maryland, Nevada and Florida where they have
Q. In general, where are the best pro bono programs found?
Programs that serve a single state are interesting, like Idaho. NH program historically handles all kinds of cases. Lawyers will take on challenging contested cases including custody based on a cultural commitment made a long time ago. This seems to work well in small population states. Tougher for larger states with many lawyers. Steve knew personally every layer in NH. That’s not possible in MN.
Q. How do non-LSC pro bono programs fit into overall delivery model, MN has
some in- house and some stand alone with different approaches. In MN two oldest
and best, VLN and VAP (Hennepin and Duluth) are independent. What are your views
in expanding those models?
Q. In subcommittee we had draft of statement talking about equal partnership
between LSC/private models, amended to say full partnership. What does equal
Q. 3M just got a national award for their pro bono efforts but corporate lawyers
often express concern about getting outside their comfort zone or realm of knowledge.
Children’s Law Center has found lawyers willing to take cases outside
their usual area of expertise if they have support. Is there any study that
shows staff to volunteer ratio to ensure quality, training, and real involvement
in support structure?
Q. Say more about staff support – lawyers serving as supervisors, making
sure the work is getting done right.
Q. Can imagine reluctance by staff attorneys since in some cases they might
feel it’s a burden and possible waste of time to be handholding. What
if had staff attorney without case load whose only role is to supervise, help
pro bono attorneys?
Comment: Lawyers Committee for Human Rights has staff attorneys review all pleadings before they’re filed. Staff attorneys have no independent caseloads. Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights assigns immigration attorneys as mentors but does not do total review unless requested.
Q. What are some exciting innovations?
Q. Is mandatory reporting considered beneficial?
Q. Do you see movement for constitutional right to civil representation?
Q. Where does pro bono fit in larger community beyond legal community? How
can we make better case in larger community to understand that lawyers are doing
their part? Is ABA doing anything?
Q. Every year we ask legislature for more money. Need to educate public, to
make that task easier.
Justice Hanson: Many thanks to Scudder for joining us. The March 25
meeting (9:30 to 3:30 at the Judicial Center) will pull together elements
of future state planning body and will begin consideration of subcommittee recommendations.
Barbara Penn chaired the meeting. Those attending included Candee Goodman, Judge Lloyd Zimmerman, Larry McDonough, Virgil Wiebe, Pat Burns, Karen Canon, Bricker Lavik, Tom Mielenhausen, Sharon Fischlowitz, and Tom Conlin and Nancy Kleeman and Nancy Wallrich of the MSBA staff.
Nancy Wallrich reported that we are at 182 out of the 500 goal for new or returning lawyer volunteers. MJF has been asked for a clerk to contact providers and firms, which have not yet reported. We are also trying to reach smaller firms and corporate law departments. We are getting numbers not names after consulting with providers and it appears that there is little if any duplication. The deadline for reporting is April 1 so that a report can be prepared for the convention. New cases already far exceed the 1,000 goal.
Law student goal is 80% but there are problems with reporting the data. With clinical participation included, the rate is significantly higher. Even if school doesn't count clinical work for the Law School Public Service Program, the consensus was to still count for the purposes of this report
Karen Canon reported on the concept of a pro bono council, which would be a voice and coordinating body for pro bono. The closest thing previously has been the regular meetings of VAP coordinators convened by the MSBA. That group was enthusiastic about the concept but said that decision makers - upper level management must buy in. The purpose would be to talk about statewide initiatives, implementing standards for programs, better reporting. Front line people felt that others have to be at the table. This would be a policy group that would have representation of a cross-section. Whether it should be separate from the MSBA is still on the tale. The group is recommending a pilot approach for the first year. The question was raised of how this effort/entity would relate to LAD. Pro bono should be a full partner in any legal services planning process so where should this go for future life. Figure this out over the next year. Law School Initiatives might be a model; it is a standing LAD subcommittee that includes broad representation from law schools, providers, MJF and the private bar. The Pro Bono Council group recommends that the MSBA provide staff support.
Pat Burns reported on data collection which was originally focused on how to collect data to measure success with this year's goals. They also hoped to come up with a uniform reporting form and grant application form for LTAB ad LSAC and the three bar foundations at least. This would help with a database as well as helping providers and funders. Ultimately the group would like this to be web-based with forms filled out online and then the information would be tabulated and disbursed to various funders. One goal is to get data in a central location. Not for this funding cycle -- take time to meet with funders and providers. Find out if instrument and method meet their needs. Put a draft form together and were just ready to get input when contacted by members of the planning commission, which wanted something done this year. Get one form for both LSAC and LTAB. A draft form is circulating and the subcommittee is involved and will provide comments. Mielenhausen noted that the LTAB and IOLTA processes need to be streamlined and also have more accountability -- give boards better aaility to make priority decisions. He doesn’t expect major, sudden changes this year but rather an effort to try to format in a way that the boards and the commission will learn more and will get more uniform information. The subcommittee will keep working on this. There is Subcommittee meeting on 2/17. Their input will be available to LTAB and LSAC as they decide about the form for this year at a meeting later next week. Goodman expressed concern about the commission co-opting the LAD project which has its own mission. Also LAD wants to relate to bar foundations and others that use the common grant application form.
Zimmerman reported that local coordinators and law firm coordinators are very enthusiastic about judicial pro bono leadership. Letter is going from the Chief Justice to chief district judges. So far seven of the districts have assigned leaders for their local committees. The local committees will include local legal aid, volunteer attorney program and private bar as well as court representation. [Hennepin: Gillespie Dickstein and Rosenbaum; Ramsey: Cleary and Hicks overseen by Mott.] Planning to have designees in every district by February 24 and have them set up their local committees/working groups. Emphasis is recruiting and recognition. First meeting in the 4th district is February 25. These groups will be the legacy. Nancy Wallrich is helping put a packet together to be used at these initial local working group meetings. Each local area will be able to have its own emphasis within the overall mission. Wallrich will get the current list of local leaders and circulate to the whole LAD Committee and will circulate the additional names as they are available.
Virgil Wiebe, Sharon Fischlowitz and Larry McDonough -- fill in from what they email
Kathy Gross Schoen reported by phone on the marketing efforts. Handed out the strategic marketing communications plan. This project has been selected as a pro bono project by a major marketing firm which is creating a plan and ads at no cost. There was lengthy discussion of the marketing plan. One suggestion related to developing another new pro bono web site. Fischlowitz noted that law students need to be trained to use the same website/database that they will use as lawyers Conlin said we also need to cater to lawyers who are more comfortable on the phone and not the web. Long term do we want a tracking database?. Through this group could get a $30,000 web site for $1,000 but must act immediately as the offer is only available for the next two months. It was suggested that the law firms be asked to come up with the funds to develop this project. There is also a resource for postcards for 1 penny beyond postage. One clarification that will need to be made is changing the term "legal aid clinics.”
There was also discussion about the need to be prepared to immediately put people to work when they make contact as part of the PR campaign. Also have checklist of things that can be used by those working on this campaign and another of what needs to be done to make sure this campaign happens. A premise is that the status quo isn't working. Need to have the measurement and encourage submission of numbers, success stories, and involvement. Another concept suggested is a buddy program -- face to face communication and enthusiasm.
Tom Mielenhausen and Barbara Penn chaired the meeting. Others attending include Jim Baillie, Steve Befort, Bruce Beneke, Pat Burns, Karen Canon, Ed Cassidy, Tom Conlin, Joe Dixon, Mary Durand, Sharon Fischlowitz, Michael Friedman, Roy Ginsburg, Candee Goodman, Kathy Gross Schoen, Kenneth Kohnstamm, Jerry Lane, Jean Lastine, Bricker Lavik, David Lund, Michele McKenzie, Patty Murto (by phone), James Patterson, Barbara Penn, Sue Pontinen, Roger Stageberg, Mary Szondy, Katie Trotzky, and the Hon. Lloyd Zimmerman. Also present were Nancy Kleeman and Nancy Wallrich, MSBA staff.
Introductions of all present were done including welcomes for new members. Mielenhausen noted that more than six new admittees had recently asked to be added to the committee and would be welcome additions.
The principal agenda item was reports from the pro bono subcommittees.
Pat Burns reported on the data subcommittee, which is trying to come up with a uniform grant application. This was originally for pro bono programs but they are looking more broadly. One goal is to capture more information about what pro bono work is actually being done and to get statistics at least for groups that get state and IOLTA funding. Other goals would be to make the grant application process easier for providers so that the same proposal could be used by as many funders as possible and save administrative time. They would also like to have more uniform definitions so that there is more consistency in the data provided. Providers approach what they submit so differently now that data can’t be compared. A final rough draft is close to being done. The group is meeting again on January 12 and will then start outreach to funders and providers to see if it will work. Ideally they would like this to be web-based both for filling out and access to the information. Burns has talked with Sally Scoggin, chair of the Legal Services Advisory Committee (LSAC) and of the resources subcommittee of the Legal Services Planning Commission (Commission) and will pursue more detailed conversations soon after the January 12 meeting. Questions were asked about the relationship to possible reporting of pro bono and getting large firm numbers without double counting. It’s clear that this won’t capture all of the pro bono but it will be much better than we have now. The Commission will be considering required reporting again both to capture information and to have the added incentive for doing pro bono and donating money.
New member Michael Friedman raised the question of whether the committee or commission is looking at low bono and/or other reduced fee options for people who aren’t served by the legal aid and pro bono providers. Burns noted that we’re not looking at this now but it is something that should be looked at. It is important to look at the eligibility guidelines for all programs and also how many people are turned away.
Ed Cassidy reported on the pro bono and judiciary subcommittee. About half the districts have responded. The PR folks are coming up with some materials. The goal is to get a committee in each judicial district. Cassidy will try to attend the January Conference Of Chief Judges meeting. For now the work will start in the districts that have already acted. The goal is permanent committees that will institutionalize the support in each district. In each district the core group working on this would be a judge, bar and legal aid representatives and local VAP coordinator as a start. Baillie offered to contact the Court and/or Conference to encourage movement.
Bricker Lavik reported on the marketing subcommittee, which is working on three areas – PR, advertising and recognition at the MSBA convention. PR would like to use some success stories and examples of the economic impact of the work. They are looking at lots of different publications. Kathie Gross Shoen provided a handout. The advertising group has found some donated space. Recognition is on the agenda for the convention. The committee is looking for other ways to provide recognition, for example, they have thought about inviting all recipients of pro bono awards from around the state during the year. The hardest thing is gathering the information on success stories, data and even who has received awards. It was suggested that the success stories should focus on new people doing pro bono and those returning to pro bono. Firms are being reminded to measure where they are on this year’s goal.
Jim Patterson reported that the largest 50 firms have been contacted to follow up on the letter sent by Baillie and the Chief Justice. The next 50 firms are now being contacted. Reporting and accounting are the most difficult issues. Their next meeting is January 15.
Karen Canon reported on the Increased Role for a VLN-type Organization subcommittee that is looking at enhancing pro bono support/coordination and whether there is an increased role for a VLN type organization and/or statewide umbrella organization. The goal is expanding pro bono but some of the existing programs don’t have sufficient capacity to handle new volunteers. In other areas the programs don’t have additional lawyers to reach out to. It’s clear that new strategies must be coordinated with existing programs and efforts. Pro Bono cannot be looked at in a vacuum. The Commission will be looking at the same/similar issues to what this subcommittee is looking at. So this subcommittee will hold a joint meeting with the commission’s pro bono subcommittee.
Central to all of this is that funding remains critical. Canon’s subcommittee presented a resolution on allocating funding: “BE IT RESOLVED that this subcommittee recommends to and requests of LAD that it defer approval of the use of any new funding or any particular allocation, application, assignment or earmarking of any such new funding until after the completion of LAD’s review.”
Extensive discussion followed. While there are efforts to expand funding/support for pro bono at the HCBA and the MSBA, the bar associations can’t do it all. Other new funding sources are being explored and allocation for pro bono needs to be considered. The commission is also looking at a more centralized way to address allocation of resources.
Mielenhausen reviewed some of the main sources of funding: state appropriation (now $7,339,000), attorney registration fee (about $1,050,000) (both administered by LSAC), IOLTA (which also distributes the earnings from the Legal Aid foundation fund – a total of about $1 million for the coming year). There are many other sources. The commission is thinking about how to make LSAC and IOLTA work more closely together. State funding is allocated based on a statutory formula where 85% goes to the regional programs on a poverty population basis without earmarking a particular delivery model. This was done to avoid geographic rivalries. Legislators are concerned about making sure that their areas get service. In most counties the pro bono/private bar involvement program is part of the regional program. Similarly the 15% is not earmarked for a particular service delivery model.
Joe Dixon said that this is a timely issue and needs to be addressed. If you go to legislature, you must tell them where the money is going to go and we can’t do this so quickly. More time is needed to deal with the allocation issues wisely.
Jim Baillie noted that to do real planning statewide, there must be some ability to allocate funding to implement new approaches. The effect of the 85-15 split over time has been a relatively small and probably declining portion to pro bono. So without more flexibility for the group of the future allocating funds, they won’t be able to do what they need to do.
Katie Trotzky pointed out the budget problems of currently funded programs that have faced major losses over the past few years. For example, funding sought at the legislature is needed to fill the hole. Existing programs need money for what they are already trying to do. If there were a totally new source of funds, that might be different. It’s not realistic to leave existing programs with such deep holes.
Question – how much of the current state appropriation goes to pro bono? We don’t have a specific answer. The commission is hoping to collect detailed information about all the non-Coalition programs that would help answer this and many other questions, for example, about exactly where non-Coalition programs deliver services.
Jerry Lane gave some history. When the legislative appropriation started it was a dedicated fund based on an increase in civil filing fees. In the later 80s, the revenue mechanisms remained in place but the dedication was removed so the appropriation is from the general fund. In the early 90s, certain real estate filing fees were increased, the money went into the general fund and then the general appropriation was increased for legal services. The money from appropriation increases, regardless of where the money comes from, when it comes out of general fund to Supreme Court is allocated according to the statute UNLESS we ask the legislature to change the underlying statute. The statute was drafted very carefully to ensure poverty population distribution and delivery by programs with a history of service.
History is complicated. Now we are at a philosophical crossroads as to whether more money should go to pro bono. Cassidy suggested coming back in January to consider this.
It was suggested that it might be possible to have a 12.5% requirement for pro bono on state money similar to the requirement that Legal Services Corporation-funded programs spend the equivalent of 12.5% of their LSC funds on private attorney involvement.
Bruce Beneke noted that one reason for the 85/15 formula is to ensure that there is clear geographic distribution. This has been a key reality in the success of appropriations. Historically LAD supported the 85 % formula. The regional programs have common accountability, similar reporting etc so that there wouldn’t need to be a state bureaucracy; instead the existing regulatory scheme would be used. Also, we have the state planning commission, which should be the group that makes any recommendations like this. All support full partnership for pro bono but the real questions are what more do we want pro bono to do, what are the barriers and how do we overcome them. Any increase in funding needs to be premised on answers to these questions. Also, need to go together to legislature. Over the years, we have promised the court and legislature that we’ll work out our own issues.
Jean Lastine talked about the commission’s client needs subcommittee. This group of the commission wants discussion of how pro bono lawyers address identified client needs as part of any allocation discussion. What are the best ways to identify client needs? Which delivery models are best suited to meeting the needs? Where might pro bono or other private bar involvement be helpful in meeting needs? What are the barriers for lawyers to help and how do we overcome them.
Lavik noted that the allocation formula was determined 20+ years ago and needs to be reexamined along with delivery models.
Cassidy moved that LAD endorse and encourage flexibility in the statewide allocation/distribution of funds for legal services for the disadvantaged. The motion was seconded and carried.
Discussion then shifted to the pro bono development director position that came about in part because of President Baillie’s initiatives and because the access to justice work including pro bono was more than one person could handle, especially this year with the Commission and the new initiatives. Funding for the special half-time one-year position was out of special one-time MSBA funds. Mielenhausen noted that Nancy Wallrich is 50% time and Candee Goodman at Lindquist & Vennum has been donating a huge amount of time. Nancy W has also been substantially leveraging committee members’ time as well as law firm resources. All the pro bono initiatives are just starting to bear fruit and will need significant follow up beyond this bar year. Kleeman’s time still needs to be devoted to the legislature and other statewide funding and continuing planning and she realistically won’t have time to take back all the pro bono followup.
The following motion was made, seconded and carried. Be it resolved, that the LAD Committee recommends adoption of a permanent, at least 80% FTE MSBA Pro Bono Development Director position funded by the MSBA.
Baillie explained the history of the current position and that the funding was provided to support his presidential priorities. This ongoing proposal will compete with other worthy bar projects and the incoming president’s priorities. He noted that LAD will need a report backing up in detail the services being provided and why this should be supported.
Patty Murto suggested that Minnesota Volunteer Attorney Program funding might be dedicated to supporting this position and that the Coalition should pay more for the access to justice director’s position (to which they now contribute over $39,000/year). Candee Goodman suggested that the focus should be advocacy for the MSBA to support this as a tremendous asset to the members.
Sharon Fischlowitz reported on law student/new lawyers subcommittee. There was a CLE for this group and 25 people showed up on a snowy day. The big question is how do we make seamless transition from pro bono in law school to pro bono by new lawyers. One big new idea has surfaced. Can we train judicial clerks (who can’t do direct client service) to do community legal education (street law). They are located all over the state and could work with judges, local lawyers and law students (during vacations in far away locations).
There being no more time, another meeting was set for Tuesday, January 13 at 8 am at the MSBA offices.
Tom Mielenhausen and Barbara Penn chaired the meeting. Others attending included: Mary Stoos, David Lund, Bricker Lavik, Erin Tomczik, Katie Trotsky, Sharon Fischlowitz, Roger Stageberg, Jean Lastine, Beth Stanciu, Sheila Stuhlmann, Jim Baillie, Ken Kohnstamm, Brad Thorsen, Candee Goodman, Joe Dixon, Pat Burns, Kathy Gross Schoen, Ed Cassidy, and MaryLou Klas. Patty Murto participated by phone.
Nancy Wallrich introduced herself.
1. General Updates
Bricker Lavik, Co-Chair of the Publicity Subcommittee, reviewed the managing partner/corporate counsel lunch at the MSBA convention and discussed how the “Call to Honor” theme and the goal of 500 new lawyers doing pro bono and 1000 new pro bono cases being served was shared with this group.
Bricker also shared that the LAD Committee is currently reaching people by presenting 5 minute “pro bono pitches” at many CLE and Bar programs.
Pat Burns, Co-Chair of the Database and Information Resources Subcommittee, reported that the subcommittee is working on defining what counts as a “case,” who is considered a “new attorney,” and how the data should be collected.
Tom Mielenhausen reaffirmed that the goals are concrete and we are trying to build accountability into the system. In addition we are motivating firms to recruit other firms. The question becomes, how do we motivate smaller firms and attorneys in rural and outstate areas? One idea is to use the judges to do that.
Ed Cassidy and Tom M. met with the conference of chief judges in July and also met with Chief Justice Blatz. Ed Cassidy, Co-Chair of the Judiciary and Judicial Districts Subcommittee, reported:
Mary Stoos shared that the Court Forms and Procedures Committee is working on preparing a uniform central self-help form so that all judges get the same information.
Nancy Kleeman said that some courts and districts implement night court or Saturday court to be able to hear pro bono cases.
In Duluth, paternity adjudication and pro se divorces are done in night court. Everyone waives venue so that one judge can hear all the cases.
Nancy Kleeman said the state planning commission is also looking at uniform data collection and a common grant form and encouraged the subcommittee to coordinate with the commission.
The discussion then turned to the need to deal with what is the definition of pro bono? Is it simply providing legal help for people who cannot afford it? Is it important to include that this is done without expectation of a fee. Rule 6.1 is broader. In order to do useful data collection there must be a clear definition.
2. How to Get More People Involved in Pro Bono:
Business Law Pro Bono is one new way and Family Law presents a constant need.
Jim Baillie reported that the Business Law Pro Bono Task Force finished its final report in June/July and submitted it to the MSBA executive committee. The Task Force will seek approval of the report from the MSBA Board of Governors in September. The MSBA will be asked to help establish a Business Law Pro Bono Program and to provide some money (about $15,000 for the first year). The Business Law Pro Bono project seeks to increase pro bono lawyer participation in providing legal help to microenterprises and nonprofits. The business law pro bono group does not seek to replace any existing organization. The thought is that the new group will subcontract with VLN, but will be a statewide program. Jim is confident the Board of Governors will approve it and the group will be up and running soon.
Jean Lastine reported on behalf of the Family Law Subcommittee. Reform is not something the subcommittee recommends.
The method to unbundle family law matters and disseminate the unbundled pieces is something the subcommittee recommends. Longtime family law volunteers do not want to do lengthy family cases. This group is more interested in mediation. The subcommittee will develop a list of opportunities. It will need to survey what individual programs can offer because program priorities differ around the state.
These efforts need to coordinate with the planning commission and the MSBA pro se implementation committee which is reviewing unbundling as a way to help pro se litigants.
Tom recapped by asking people to review the list of 10 action items generated by Jim Baillie and sign up for a subcommittee.
Jim Baillie asked the LAD committee to adopt the 10 action items list. This is the year we can implement concrete pro bono goals. Long term projects such as Rule 6.1 and required reporting recommendations have been great, but this is the year to solidify delivery of actual pro bono services. Jim generally discussed the idea of recruiting 500 new lawyers and 1000 new cases and how the 10 points seek to support that goal.
A motion to adopt the goals was moved, seconded and carried. The goals can be found at http://www2.mnbar.org/committees/lad/10-initiatives.pdf
A discussion was held on defining the term “new volunteer.”
4. Planning Commission Update:
LSC requires addressing the share of the grantee group and whether there should be consolidation or not. Other states have experienced major consolidation. The meetings are open and people are encouraged to attend. The first all day meeting was July 28. The next full Commission meeting is set for October 23. The process will extend into April and recommendations that will need to go to the bar will happen in April.
If interested in the pro bono subcommittee or any other subcommittee, let Nancy Kleeman know. It is important to coordinate on Pro Bono. The Commission is looking at the long term policies affecting pro bono.
The Commission is more policy oriented so LAD’s work is not duplicative. Another subcommittee needing close coordination with LAD is the Resources Committee. This subcommittee will tackle the question of whether or not there is a strategy for 04 that will have to be coordinated with LAD. LAD also has a working group on Cy Pres and since Nancy staffs both committees, she will make sure there is coordination and no overlap. The Chairs of the Legal Services Advisory Committee and the IOLTA board are both on LAD and the commission which also helps with coordination.
Barbara Penn chaired the meeting. Members attending included Jim Baillie, Bruce Beneke, Karern Canon, Ed Cassidy, Tom Conlin, Sharon Fischlowitz, Candee Goodman, Ken Kohnstamm, Jerry Lane, Bricker Lavik, David Lund, Michelle Garnet McKenzie, Patty Murto (by phone), Roger Stageberg, Mary Stoos, Katie Trotzky and Lloyd Zimmerman. Also attending was Nancy Kleeman of the MSBA staff.
Cassidy, substituting for Tom Mielenhausen.who wasn’t able to attend, led discussion about the various pro bono subcommittees’ activities.
On June 19 there will be a lunch at the MSBA convention to highlight the crisis in legal aid and what pro bono lawyers can do to address it. Mielenhausen and Cassidy met with Chief Justice Blatz last week and she agreed to help in any way she could. If possible the invitations will be on court letterhead from her; if not, Baillie will send them. The managing partners at the 50 largest firms and some corporate counsel will be invited. The program, with the Chief Justice, Baillie and Mielenhausen, will describe the unmet need and current difficulties in meeting that need. Attendees will be presented with definite goals for new volunteers and specific things that they can do. Blatz has asked for talking points, which the subcommittee will provide.
Some suggestions include designating a pro bono contact if the firm doesn’t already have one and signing up for some specific additional commitment (like taking housing cases for a specific period). Only about six firms have non-attorney coordinators and some others like Robins have pro bono partners doing the coordination. It needs to be clear that whatever is already being done, more is expected not simply reallocation of existing resources. Send additional suggestions to Cassidy as soon as possible.
There will also be an effort to go to the Conference of Chief Judges meeting Friday at the convention to ask if they would help get the word out on a district-by-district basis. They also need to be given some specific things to do. The Judges and Pro Bono report (http://www2.mnbar.org/committees/lad/role-judges.pdf ) should be handed out. It is in the ProJusticeMN library and is also posted on the MSBA’s web site. Judge Zimmerman met with Goodman and Lavik and is working with Chief Judge Burke on moving forward on involving the courts.
While there is also the need for additional money, the Chief Justice can't make this pitch and the group doesn’t want to mix messages. It is important to discuss the need for administrative infrastructure, which firms can help with. Penn noted that firms do need understand the importance of more financial resources as well.
While the convention lunch is by invitation only, there will also be a portion of the Thursday General Assembly led by Cassidy addressing legal aid and pro bono. Participants will be using "live polling" during this discussion. Also law firm marketing directors are working on a pitch to lawyers statewide so the lunch is only the kickoff. A statewide educational campaign when Rule 6.1 was changed was successful so we need to do that again with local judges and others.
Beneke gave an update on state funding. The 3.09 % cut is the best outcome that could have been achieved. Many thanks to all who wrote letters and made contacts. The Coalition’s lobbyist Peg Larsen spent many hours along with the MSBA’s lobbyist Lloyd Grooms. Teamwork was the keystone. Conference committee members mentioned that legal aid teamwork, making the case positively in a low-profile way and keeping a steady presence throughout the session, was perhaps the best lobbying effort this session. The MSBA was pivotal in urging equitable, fair proportionate treatment of legal aid. The Chief Justice and Sue Dosal were very helpful in communicating this message. Special thanks to Ranum, Knutson, Hottinger, Cohen, Foley (who came in at conference committee time) in the Senate and to House members Smith, Lipman and Fuller who were helpful in the conference process, less than an hour of which was in public session. Lane added special thanks to Beneke and again to the Court, which was consistently strong in supporting legal aid. Thanks should be sent to the Blatz for her leadership. Ranum and Knutson in particular need to be thanked. Knutson is also working to preserve county funding for Legal Assistance of Dakota County. The LAD web site will be finally updated as soon as the Governor signs the bill. Lane noted that the Governor’s messages throughout supported equitable treatment of legal aid.
Lane updated the group on the LSC-mandated state planning process, which needs to produce a plan on reconfiguration of LSC-funded service areas by December of 2003 so LSC can issue its request for proposals for 2005. LSC’s Minnesota state planning staffer Melissa Pershing is visiting all LSC grantees before the end of June and is at CMLS this week. She expects and hopes that LSC will accept and adopt Minnesota’s report. Clearly, there is a commitment to doing this process as well as possible. Bar representatives met with the Chief Justice who has named Justice Sam Hanson to work with the new commission. He is very enthusiastic about the process. The providers, Bar and Court need to meet soon to move ahead on this. The Commission will look at structure, how programs work together, resources, pro bono and generally how to make the statewide delivery system work better. LSC has granted extensions in the past but we are about the last state to go through this process. There is a new LSC board and LSC will almost certainly have new staff so existing staff would like to finish this process. It was emphasized that all programs, not just the Coalition programs, need to be involved in this and that more coordination with non-Coalition programs is important. There will definitely be LAD representatives.
Lane said that feedback from LSC is that they are not committed to a single statewide LSC recipient in Minnesota (which they have done in some other states), which is not to say that we might not decide that this would be meritorious. LSC is sensitive to concerns that the big city folks not dominate the outcome. There is clearly sensitivity to problems of the rural poor and the lack of resources in rural areas. Murto mentioned an LSC document about Pro Bono in the Reconfiguration Process that she will get and share with the committee.
Baillie noted that he plans to focus on pro bono and legal services in the coming year and his first President's page will be on this topic. He would like a pro bono plan to announce early in his year. He briefly updated LAD on the Business Law Pro Bono Task Force. The goal is to bring in lawyers who do transactional work and are resistant to doing litigation to provide legal services to nonprofits and microenterprise. The task force has been meeting since the fall with enthusiastic participation. Their goal is to present a report at the convention. They are wrestling with whether to suggest a new freestanding program or a program that works closely, for example, with VLN and other existing programs and expands what they do. There is a large need to better make these matches especially outside big firms.
Conlin serves on the LAD subcommittee on involving more volunteers. He helped to convene a group of law firm marketing directors to help with this campaign. This provides a major opportunity to do a marketing campaign reaching out to the entire pool of lawyers in the state. One question is infrastructure – this needs to be in place before soliciting volunteers. Which programs have the infrastructure in place to provide training and to screen and place cases? It is important to have this piece in place so potential volunteers don’t get frustrated. They are gathering information on what currently is being done, where programs have immediate needs and for what, and where there is the ability to absorb more volunteers. Murto will make available a survey she saw from another state that might be helpful.
Baillie mentioned that the MSBA is in the process of hiring a new part-time Pro Bono Director to support these efforts for one year. One task is figuring out how to sustain these efforts. VLN hopes to have new executive director to announce by the VLN 6/18 annual meeting.
Penn noted that Baillie, LAD and staff also need to pay attention to follow through on projects launched during Gernander’s presidency. One was encouraging earmarking of cy pres funds for legal aid. A Handbook was developed and can be found on the MSBA's website.
Kleeman reminded the group that Probono.net/mn has a new name - ProJusticeMN.org - with a new look and new features! The Civil Law Practice Area now includes Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF) users. Suggestions on resources and improvements for the site are most welcome.
Some of the new features include:
**Save Your Login -- Allows you to save your user name (email address) and password, so you will not have to log in each time you return to the site
**New Views of the Library, Calendar & New Cases areas -- Use the View By menu in the right-hand column to re-sort key resources by Topic or Location (but we’re still tagging documents in the library so the topic view isn’t fully operational).
**Better Searching -- A more prominent
search box allows searching
Tom Mielenhausen and Barbara Penn chaired the meeting. Members attending included Steve Befort, Karen Canon, Ed Cassidy, Joe Dixon, Sharon Fischlowitz, Matt Forsgren, Candee Goodman, Dana Hofmann-Geye, Mary Louise Klas, Ken Kohnstamm, Jerry Lane, Jean Lastine, Bricker Lavik, David Lund, Barbara F. L. Penn, Mary Stoos, and Katie Trotzky. Also attending was Nancy Kleeman of the MSBA staff.
Handouts: MWL article on legal aid/pro bono funding crisis, Bench & Bar article on court/legal aid funding, Mielenhausen pro bono ideas, Lavik subcommittee action ideas, summary of MSBA member survey, and summary of IOLTA Supreme Court decision.
Lane gave a legal aid funding update. MSBA and legal aid leaders are meeting regularly with the Court and have met with all key legislators. The key message is that legal aid should be treated in parity with the court as far as cuts and application of revenue generated from court-related fee increases. Now that both the House (cut of 20% -- $1,572,000 per year) and Senate (level funding) have passed bills, a conference committee will be appointed and given a spending target to work with. Regular updates and background materials appear at http://www2.mnbar.org/committees/lad/funding.asp .
Discussion focused on contacting the conference committee as soon as it is appointed. It was suggested that messages be sent to the law firm pro bono roundtable and LAD with the request that key people in each law firm and other organizations commit to write themselves and recruit at least several others to write letters We need to identify key contacts to make sure this happens. Lane also noted that it is important to thank Senators Ranum and Cohen.
Lastine reported that the Legal Services Corporation Board has requested a funding increase for LSC even though the President's budget was level funding (which is good under the deficit circumstances). LSC received a $9.5 million one-time increase for 2003 to provide transition time for states like Minnesota that are losing money due to census readjustments (Minnesota is down 17.35% overall with Northwest Minnesota down 30% -- the largest drop in the country.) The Board is asking for $4.5 million for 2004 for one more year of transition plus more for an overall increase. The ABA is asking for a $51 million increase. Jim Baillie, Jon Duckstad and Susan Holden all participated in ABA Day in Washington meeting with several members of Minnesota's congressional delegation. New LSC board members are now in place with a supportive board chair who has served on legal aid boards in Georgia. Overall the board is much more conservative.
States that were once considered the best on state planning are now all facing reconfiguration. Minnesota was notified in October that we must have a formal state planning process and provide recommendations by December 31, 2003 on reconfiguring LSC-funded program service areas. Our LSC staff contact Melissa Pershing has visited twice already to get an overview and to meet with the Anoka and Northwest programs. She will return at least four more times before the end of June to visit the other programs. In April she met with directors and representatives of the Coalition programs' boards. It is clear that will be fewer than six LSC-funded programs at the end of the process. There is only one single county LSC-funded program left in the country besides Anoka (San Diego which is a huge program in population and geography).
At the LAD Committee's request, two members of the MSBA Executive Committee and Lane and Beneke met on April 21 with the Chief Justice who agreed to appoint a Blue Ribbon Commission to serve as the Designated State Planning Body in cooperation with the MSBA and the Coalition. A request for $10,000 is pending before LSC to help with the Commission. LAD will be kept informed as this goes forward.
Kleeman noted the need for corrections in Pat Douglass's MWL article that was handed out. Congress did not withdraw Violence Against Women Act funding. While Congress appropriated funds for VAWA, there have been problems with significant gaps between grants for VAWA Civil Legal Assistance providers so that grants end as much as a year before renewals are processed. The characterization of McKnight grants ending is also a bit misleading. Their Legal Services for Women Initiative went on for 9 years, which is far longer than their special initiatives usually run (average is 3 years). All recipients were given a full year warning that this would end. The timing was indeed awful since these grants ended at a time when other sources were also slipping badly. Finally, as noted above a blue ribbon commission appointed by the Supreme Court, working in cooperation with the MSBA and legal aid providers, will be proposing a reconfiguration plan for LSC program service areas. The last sentence "Without the new plan, the funding is withdrawn" is incorrect. Funding based on a poverty population formula comes by statute to Minnesota. LSC will determine the program service areas for a 2005 funding competitive bidding process after receiving the Commission's proposed plan.
Committee members then introduced themselves. The chairs welcomed new member Matthew Forsberg from Briggs & Morgan.
Bernard P. Becker awards were presented at the April 26 Board of Governors meeting to SMRLS Managing Attorney Larry Nicol, Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis Legal Secretary Mescal Urich and University of Minnesota Law Student Douglas Kluver (nominated for his family law work with Legal Assistance of Washington County).
Mielenhausen gave an IOLTA update. The very good news is that the US Supreme Court upheld the IOLTA program. A summary of the decision was handed out. A research group had been put together to prepare for contingencies; it will meet in May to see if there are any ways in which the Minnesota program needs to be shored up in light of the decision. Justice Kennedy in his dissent did bring up first amendment issues so in the long term there may be another series of challenges. Because of very low interest rates, funding is not good. Revenues mean another 35% cut in grants for 2003-04 (on top of a 31.5% cut for 2002-03) may be needed. The Lawyer Trust Account Board and Legal Services Advisory Committee are having a joint open forum on May 12 from 10 to noon at the Judicial Center to get input on priorities and what should be their guiding principles in a time of reduced funding.
MSBA member survey results were handed out. Overall members are very supportive of LAD activities. The MSBA will be adding for 2003-04 only a half-time position to support pro bono activities. The job notice will be posted soon.
Lavik then led a discussion of possible Pro Bono action items. Handouts included Mielenhausen's draft memo and possible action items from the subcommittee. Goodman was thanked for all her support for the subcommittee's work. Highlights from the discussion appear below.
It was moved, seconded and carried to keep moving forward to develop ideas with full committee action needed to approve the specifics of particular items like fund raising before they go forward. It is important not to simply redirect resources. It was noted that increasing pro bono isn't just volunteer lawyers. It should also be technology, paralegals etc. Suggestions on new funding will dovetail particularly well with the new Commission and the state planning process, which is likely to have a Resources/Funding Subcommittee. .
Fischlowitz gave a quick Law School update. The good news is that funding from all four law schools for the Law School Public Service Program is moving forward. She also reported excellent numbers on generating opportunities for law students. 502 volunteers gave 16,084 hours to 6,154 clients in the 2001-2002 school year. 781 referrals resulted in 746 confirmed placements (a record 96% placement rate). And already in the 2002-2003 year, 410 students have given 11,337 hours to 2,817 clients through 520 projects. In 2000-2001, 110 agencies created 325 projects with spots for 1,200 students to volunteer. In 2001-2002, 169 agencies created 429 projects with spots for 2,664 students to volunteer.
The next meeting will be on May 28 at 8:00 a.m. at the MSBA offices.
Tom Mielenhausen and Barbara Penn chaired the meeting. Members attending included: Jim Baillie, Tom Conlin, Joe Dixon, Pat Douglass, Sharon Fischlowitz, Candee Goodman, Mary Lou Klas, Ken Kohnstamm, Jerry Lane, Jean Lastine, David Lund, Michele Garnet McKenzie, Erin O’Toole, Roger Stageberg, Katie Trotzky, and Lloyd Zimmerman. Also attending was Nancy Kleeman of the MSBA staff.
After introductions, the chairs asked Kleeman to give a Legal Services Corporation Update. She reported that final 2003 funding would be decided in the Omnibus 2003 Appropriations bill currently being worked out by a conference committee in Congress. The fiscal year actually began October 1, 2002; funding has so far been through continuing resolutions. The House bill contains level funding for LSC but, because of census readjustments, Minnesota programs were cut an average of 17.35% with the Legal Services of NW Minnesota cut by over 30%. On January 23 the Senate adopted an amendment offered by Senator Tom Harkin (D-IA) providing $19 million to restore funding to states suffering losses due to the redistribution of funds from the LSC appropriation due to the implementation of the 2000 decennial census. The amendment was adopted by bipartisan agreement. Sen. Mark Dayton co-sponsored the amendment. Many good contacts were made with Sen. Norm Coleman’s office but the amendment went forward before a co-sponsor decision could be made. Contacts are now being made to encourage the conferees to adopt the Senate position. Rep. Jim Ramstad is working on this in the House.
LSC has mandated that all states engage in a state planning process. The LAD Committee has been overseeing this process since the Joint Legal Services and Funding Committee (Joint Committee – sometimes known as Penn-Stageberg) ended its work in 1996. Kleeman is the Minnesota state planning coordinator. In September 2001 an extensive self-evaluation updating progress since the Joint Committee was submitted. No feedback has been received on that report to date.
In October 2002 LSC’s planning person assigned to Minnesota, Melissa Pershing, visited and told the programs that LSC expected Minnesota to consider reconfiguration of LSC programs and have the "designated state planning body," (DSPB) preferably a blue ribbon commission, report to LSC by December 31, 2002. A December 3 letter was received confirming this requirement. The self-evaluation, letter and other materials can be found at http://www2.mnbar.org/committees/lad/state-planning.asp. LSC has extensive parameters for the composition of the DSPB.
Minnesota now has six LSC-funded programs. It is almost certain that LSC will unilaterally reduce that number considerably (as it has in other states) unless Minnesota folks make their own proposal that is acceptable to LSC. LSC plans to announce service areas for competitive bidding for 2005 funding in April of 2004, which is what drives the timeline. Minnesota’s current programs have a commitment, through the last competitive bidding process, of funding for 2003 and 2004. Minnesota programs initially thought that the new blue ribbon commission could be appointed in summer (following the legislative session) to build on efforts of a smaller working group. Since LSC said that the working group would need to be comprised much like the commission, it makes more sense to convene the commission as soon as possible.
Pershing plans several day visits to each LSC-funded program between now and May. She also will meet with LAD members, community groups, judges, program boards and clients, other legal aid providers, and others.
During the committee discussion LAD members stressed the importance of the entire state justice community being involved in the planning discussions and not just the Coalition programs. The role of pro bono is a key element to be addressed.
The LAD Committee then agreed to ask the MSBA executive committee to work with the Court, in consultation with the LAD Committee and the Coalition, to appoint a blue ribbon commission to build on previous planning work to produce an updated state plan for a comprehensive, integrated civil legal services delivery system, including consideration of reconfiguring LSC-funded programs.
Lane gave a state funding update. He noted that there are extensive background materials on the MSBA web site at http://www2.mnbar.org/committees/lad/funding.asp. The focus right now is taking back already appropriated funds for 2003 to make up for a shortfall of about $350 million. The Senate plan takes nothing back from legal aid and the court. The House plan takes back $442,000 from legal aid, which happens to be the amount not yet paid out to the Coalition programs. A conference committee is meeting this week. On January 27 Senator Ranum held a hearing about legal aid and the court. Kent Gernander, Steve Witort from 3M and Judge Thomas Mott from Ramsey County testified on behalf of legal aid. They made the strong case that legal aid should not be cut any further than it already has been. Testimony highlighted the economic benefits to the state of legal aid including federal disability benefits, child support, homelessness prevention, and cost savings to the courts from cases resolved out of court and fewer pro se litigants. Senators were also told about cuts legal aid has taken from other sources.
Lane reported that legal aid has already cut case handling staff (lawyers and paralegals) by 20% and will cut another 10% in 2003 and 2004 without any further legal aid cuts. Senator Cohen, chair of the Senate Finance Committee, is hoping to hold legal aid harmless for 2003 and for the next biennium. He will be leading the conference for the Senate. Lane noted that legal aid advocates would continue to look for a revenue source, which will be essential for any increase and might be necessary to prevent cuts. The House picture has changed with current committee chair Rep. Rich Stanek's appointment as the Commissioner of Public Safety. Rep. Steve Smith will chair the committee.
In response to questions about how cuts affect staffing, Lane noted that there is about $60,000 in total costs for an attorney position. So there would be at least another seven lost attorney positions with the 2003 take back if it goes through. The magnitude of cuts from federal, IOLTA, foundation, and the already enacted 2003 state funding cut is 35-40% of casehandler staff (attorneys and paralegals) lost from 2001 through 2004 without any further cuts. Using the baseline of 40,000 cases per year handled by the Coalition programs, the reduction will mean serving about 15,000 fewer families. Because of the difficulty in gathering information, these numbers reflect only the Coalition programs which handle about 85% of the total cases each year.
Douglass commented on the serious impacts to all programs from the cuts. She noted that Volunteer Lawyers Network’s annual budget has been about $419,000. This year because of money anticipated but not received it is down to 388,500. For 2003-04 VLN is writing a budget for $350,000 but only anticipate at this point income of $250,000; so without new revenue and/or using up all of reserves, VLN will still be short by $90,000+. Law firm, lawyer and foundation contributions are way down. VLN has been told not to count on HCBA funding for future years. Trotzky noted that county money will almost certainly be down which will affect a number of programs.
Mielenhausen reported on a small group meeting about pro bono in November which included Jim Baillie, incoming MSBA president. Baillie suggested that we have a plan in place for pro bono initiatives by summer to be implemented during his year as president. Mielenhausen noted that the message needs to be communicated very carefully so as not to convey to legislators and other policy makers that the private bar can or should do it all. That is why all public documents going to the legislature focus on the public’s stake in legal aid, rather than on the pro bono efforts of the private bar. At the same time, within the bar we need a plan to encourage lawyers to do their part in both time for pro bono and money to support legal aid and pro bono programs.
Mielenhausen handed out and reviewed a "laundry list" of ideas to explore. That list is attached to these minutes. He noted that some of the ideas on the list may be bad or unworkable ideas thus needing to be dropped; others might be good ideas and need refinement. We need to increase both time and money from the private bar. He suggested that small groups evaluate (1) the desirability, feasibility and cost-benefits of these and other ideas, and (2) if an idea seems worthwhile to pursue, come up with short and long term recommendations. While downplaying this with some funders, we've got to begin getting across the idea that the private bar owns a share of this problem that is not going to go away. The MSBA needs to take the lead. Members were asked to sign up for areas they’d be willing to work on. Those not attending the meeting should review the attached list and let Mielenhausen or Kleeman know of their interests including additional ideas.
During the committee’s discussion, some short term project additions were suggested including revising, updating and revamping the Pro Bono Opportunities Directory and promoting probono.net/mn which will soon be significantly upgraded. Baillie reminded the committee that anything with budgetary implications needs to be proposed soon as the MSBA is doing a three-year plan. Baillie discussed one of the suggestions -- programming at the June 18-20 MSBA convention. Some possibilities include a program with the judges whose meetings are held at the convention, a meeting with managing partners, and building one of the law and literature CLE programs around a book like Praying for Sheetrock by Melissa Faye Greene.
Goodman announced that Jerry Lane will receive the HCBA’s public attorney award at the March 11 HCBA bar benefit. All are encouraged to attend this event.
Lane has approached former Vice-President Mondale about donating at least some of his unused Senate campaign funds to IOLTA to allocate to providers statewide. Calls to him to encourage this donation should be made as soon as possible.
Penn reminded the committee that the bar web site has regular updates on legal aid funding. There is also a phone hotline at 612-278-6324.
She also asked that people pass on ideas for blue ribbon commission members (including volunteers) to Kleeman.
Nominations for the Bernard P. Becker Legal Aid Staff and Volunteer Law Student Awards are due by February 15. Information and nomination forms can be found at http://www2.mnbar.org/committees/lad/becker-main.asp.
Fischlowitz gave a Law School Initiatives update. The subcommittee is chaired this year by Angie McCaffrey from Hamline. The focus this year is on securing and maintaining annual funding from the four law schools. This year Mitchell has provided $40,000 a year; St Thomas gave 40,000 their first year and is considering future amounts; Hamline is at $19,000 a year; and the U has given nothing in cash to date. A letter is going soon to the new Dean and the committee is optimistic. All four schools donate office space and other in-kind services.
The January 24 Legal Scholarship for Equal Justice Symposium drew over 200 people (the committee had hoped for at least 50) and the Dorsey luncheon workshop drew 35. Both were outstanding. That committee will meet soon to plan for the future.
April 9 is the fourth annual Law School Public Service Program Recognition Event. Details will follow.
Kleeman noted that the Minnesota Volunteer Attorney Program and the MSBA sponsor two scholarships to the annual national Equal Justice Conference which is April 9-12 in Portland Oregon. Two LAD Committee members and/or local volunteer program staff working on LAD’s pro bono initiatives are eligible to attend. The LAD chairs will decide soon on these so let them know if there are suggestions. Last year Mary Stoos and Pat Burns attended.
The next meeting full committee meeting will be scheduled in the spring.
Last Updated 8/18/11 -