MLSC State Support Center activities include sponsoring training events for legal services staff from 35 legal aid firms and projects across the state, as well as volunteer and legal lawyers; Monthly coordination. MLSC State Support Center activities include sponsoring training events for legal services staff from 35 legal aid firms and projects across the state, as well as volunteer and legal lawyers; Coordination of monthly meetings of national task forces; publication of a newsletter twice a month, which is distributed to legal services staff, volunteer lawyers and other interested persons; and coordinating the production of community legal training materials. In addition, the center serves as a technology center and coordinates technology planning and implementation. Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance (MMLA) (www.midmnlegal.org) is to help disadvantaged people exercise their rights and support their efforts to resolve legal issues. Its objectives include the provision of legal aid to low-income persons and persons with disabilities; Empower customers by educating them about legal rights; promote self-representation; and ensuring that the interests of low-income people are represented before legislators. Rural areas are the most affected. Access to essential legal aid is particularly difficult in rural areas of our country. Five civil legal aid programs in Minnesota rely on LSC funds for a significant portion of their resources, and many of these programs are located outside the subway zone. MLSC used both products to develop automated forms on a small scale.
However, MLSC lacks the staff to start developing forms on a large scale. Under the ongoing guidance of the lawyer and MLSC website coordinator, CLC VISTA would be the primary developer of the form. Minnesota courts and legal services attorneys have already developed many forms that would be automated. LSC helps thousands of Minnesotans access legal aid when faced with critical issues such as domestic violence, illegal eviction from their homes, and unjustified denial of essential services to veterans, the disabled, and the elderly. Funding for civil legal aid programmes makes economic sense. Everyone benefits when we are able to house, ensure the safety and stability of our most vulnerable residents. In 2015 alone, civil legal aid programs in Minnesota served 47,000 individuals and families. A 2016 economic impact report by the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition and the Minnesota State Bar Association showed that for every dollar invested in civil legal aid programs in Minnesota, the return on investment is $3.94. This year, MJF is pleased to present its 2022 Lawyer Award to Raelene Caswell, Housing Advocate at Standpoint. Caswell (she/she) started working as a lawyer in 2009 and, as Standpoint`s housing lawyer, she works with the housing lawyer to help tenants/survivors of domestic and sexual violence deal with housing issues. These issues include breaking a lease for fear of violence, enforcing housing protection under the Violence Against Women Act, and communicating with landlords. It also provides training to lawyers from across the state.
With his team of attorneys, Caswell provides legal representation through Standpoint`s Action Line for Housing, Protection Orders and Injunctions, and other safety-related concerns. She supervises and mentors Standpoint`s general interns, works with Alexandra House, responds to victims/survivors at the hospital, and provides support on the crisis line and through advocacy in shelters. Caswell has worked with several agencies, including the Sexual Violence Center, Cornerstone, Women`s Advocates, SafeJourney, Catholic Charities and Freedom House, to provide dignified services to those seeking safety. She is particularly passionate about preventing burnout and promoting the well-being and resilience of lawyers in the field. MJF`s 2022 Direct Service Award goes to Bradford Colbert of Mitchell Hamline School of Law. Professor Colbert is director of the Minnesota Prisoner Legal Assistance Clinic (LAMP) in Mitchell Hamline. The LAMP clinic represents persons imprisoned in civil matters. LAMP cases range from standard resolutions to complex class actions. In addition to managing the LAM Clinic, Professor Colbert teaches criminal law and constitutional criminal procedure law at the Faculty of Law. While serving as appellate counsel, he argued Minnesota v. Carter in the U.S. Supreme Court (and lost).
Professor Colbert has received the William E. McGee Public Defender Award of Excellence and the Minnesota Lawyer Attorney of the Year. Legal Services State Support (State Support) is a project of the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition (MLSC), a group of seven legal aid programs that help low-income residents with a variety of legal issues. State Support operates this website, ProJusticeMN.org for lawyers and MNLegalAdvice.org, a national legal advice website. The speed of the project is evident as budget cuts are forcing legal service providers to create more efficient ways to serve clients. Clients are routinely rejected due to limited resources, and it is imperative that there be support for those who are forced to navigate the legal system on their own. This project will provide increased support to low-income individuals in this position. As mentioned above, MLSC recently received the new version of the HotDocs software for free and can access A2J for free. Finally, the developer of the MLSC websites, Pro Bono Net (www.probono.net), provides MLSC with access to a national server for the publication of interviews developed with a grant with LSC. These reasons, and the fact that many of the forms that would be used to develop the interviews already exist, make the timing of this project ideal. Civil legal aid programmes ensure justice for all. Federal Legal Services Corporation helps fund Minnesota`s civil legal aid programs and, with this funding, plays a vital role in leveraging the important work of pro bono attorneys.
“What [LSC] has been advocating for years has nothing to do with party lines or partisanship. It has everything to do with our shared goal that everyone in this country has the right to equal and fair representation before the law. – Tom Emmer, Congressman (R – MN 6th District) State Support`s mission is to improve access to justice for all Minnesotans.