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Access to Justice

Real Faces of Pro Bono

Excerpts from the October 2012 Pro Bono CLE, part of Pro Bono Week 2012, sponsored by the MSBA and hosted by Faegre Baker Daniels in Minneapolis, MN. Opening remarks by Robert Enger (MSBA President 2012-13), Chief Justice Lorie Gildea (Minnesota Supreme Court) and Steven Marchese (MSBA Pro Bono Development Director). Four clients speak about the impact pro bono representation had on their lives and why attorneys need to be committed to helping low income clients.

North Star Lawyer

MSBA Pro Bono Recognition Program

The Minnesota State Bar Association is proud to recognize members who provide 50 hours or more of pro bono legal services per year as North Star Lawyers.

Lawyers who serve the poor without charge should be celebrated. By generously donating their time and talent, they change lives. They help people who otherwise could not afford counsel achieve justice. The Minnesota State Bar Association is tremendously proud of our members who render free legal services to low-income persons.  

Starting in 2013 (for hours volunteered in 2012), the MSBA will give special recognition to members who provide 50 hours or more of legal services in a calendar year to low income people at no fee and without expectation of fee. Over 740 members met this standard in 2013.

Visit the North Star Lawyer home page for more details.

Certification forms can be found on the North Star page. 

Civil Gideon Task Force Final Report Now Available

The final report of the Civil Gideon Task Force is now available. Access to Justice: Assessing Implementation of Civil Gideon in Minnesota contains detailed information about low income people's needs for representation in matters involving basic human needs, the impacts when counsel is not available, and recommendations for addressing the justice gap. The report has been accepted by the MSBA Assembly and is being reviewed for potential further action by the Bar.

More information about the Task Force is here. Questions about the report can be directed to MSBA staff liaison to the Task Force, Lindsay Davis.

Minnesota Client Access, Barriers and Solutions Study

The Minnesota Client Access, Barriers and Solutions Study ("MN-CABS Study") was a joint project of the Minnesota State Bar Association, the Bremer Foundation, the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition and the Legal Services Advisory Committee.  The purpose of the MN-CABS Study was to identify specific groups of legal services-eligible clients around Minnesota, the barriers they face to obtaining legal services, and strategies for overcoming those barriers.  

This study was the first of its kind in Minnesota and in the country. Its innovative methodology - using direct surveys and focus groups of eligible clients, much of it conducted by staff from legal services and pro bono programs that have been trained by University of Minnesota researchers - provides a model of client-centered analysis that goes well beyond generic needs assessments.

The study was released on September 13, 2011 and is available at the following link:  Final MN-CABS Report.

The MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee has developed a Program Self-Audit to help programs include the findings of the report as they set local priorities. Links to the Sel-Audit and other MN-CABS resources are available here.

For more information about the report, contact MSBA Access to Justice Director Lindsay Davis at ldavis@mnbar.org.

Through partnerships with the courts, the legal profession, and the community, the MSBA promotes access to justice on several fronts. The MSBA plays a central role in advancing pro bono activities among lawyers, and supports programs providing legal services to low-income and disadvantaged Minnesotans.

For Lawyers: Resources, networking, and CLEs for pro bono and legal services lawyers.
For the Public: Multi-lingual fact sheets and booklets on poverty law topics and links to legal aid offices.
Minnesota State Bar Foundation
For the State: Grants for programs targeting legal assistance to the disadvantaged & other initiatives
For the Public: Online Self-Help Center to assist people representing themselves in District Court


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