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Attorneys

As an attorney, your skillset is invaluable to the Legal Aid Pro Bono Program. We provide training, administrative support, translation services and malpractice coverage to all volunteer attorneys, as well as the option to reserve a space in the Legal Aid office or work in a remote location that suits you.

  • Provide direct legal services
  • Represent clients in hearings
  • Participate in single day workshops
  • Draft white papers on developing areas of law
  • Help clients navigate the court system
  • Mentor volunteers in a specific area of law

Requirements

  • Be in good standing and admitted to the bar of any state.
  • Represent your pro bono clients with the same degree of professionalism as you would with any other client. 

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Have Questions? Browse Frequently Asked Questions or contact our Pro Bono Director

Frequently Asked Questions

Get more details on the program, expectations and the commitment requirements you can expect as a volunteer.

  • Where are the pro bono opportunities located?

    The Pro Bono Program works primarily from our Hennepin County location in downtown Minneapolis. All of our workshops are located in Minneapolis as well. If you are interested in volunteering outside of Hennepin County, please contact the Pro Bono Director for information.
     

  • What is the time commitment required to volunteer?

    Each experience is different. The time you devote to the Program depends directly on the volunteer opportunity you choose and your previous experience with the subject matter. Pro Bono Program volunteers taking direct representation matters can anticipate spending anywhere from 5-40 hours on a case, inclusive of client interviews and court time. Because staff attorneys offer mentorship and limited supervision in many of the cases, we encourage all attorneys to volunteer to represent clients directly. Our office will also provide support and answer any questions throughout the representation.

    Workshops generally last between 3 to 4 hours, depending on the number of clients being served. Some of our workshops require ongoing commitments, such as attending an interview or a court hearing with the client post-workshop.

    Please make sure that you understand and agree to the expectations of each project you volunteer for because the clients are counting on you!
     

  • Where will I meet with clients?

    You may work out of your own office or at our office. Our office space is limited, so prior arrangements must be made with the Pro Bono Director. If you have private office space, we encourage you to meet with clients at your offices, keeping in mind the potential constraints (transportation/time) of indigent clients.
     

  • Do I need prior legal experience?

    We accept both new and experienced practitioners. Prior to volunteering in a Legal Aid workshop, attorneys attend a training session and, if available, receive a training manual with in formation about the project. Additionally, experienced staff attorneys are present at each workshop to answer questions for both volunteer attorneys and workshop participants. Attorneys taking direct representation cases are also provided with mentorship, if desired. Staff attorneys are available to answer questions in the substantive area of the law, as well as to assist volunteers in understanding best practices for
    working with our clients.

  • I am in good standing with the Minnesota Bar, but I do not currently practice as an attorney. Can I still volunteer?

    Yes, non-practicing attorneys who retain their licenses and are in good standing with the state bar may still volunteer with our organization. There are many ways to volunteer with Legal Aid and we will provide you with the supervision and assistance you need to effectively assist clients.
     

  • Do I have to be licensed in Minnesota?

    No, but you must be in good standing in the state in which you are licensed. Non-Minnesota attorneys can volunteer for some of our programs, while other opportunities are only available to those with a Minnesota license.
     

  • Do you offer CLE credit?

    Yes, as a volunteer you are eligible to receive free and low cost CLE’s through Legal Services State Support a project of Minnesota’s Legal Aid programs. In addition, as a volunteer you can register for ProJusticeMN.org which provides monthly upda tes and emails about CLE events.

  • Will I have to pay for expenses related to my case?
    • Court filing fees: Whenever possible, volunteer attorneys should file a Fee Waiver or Affidavit to Proceed In Forma Pauperis with the court to get filing fees and court costs waived on b ehalf of indigent clients.
    • Attorneys are not required to pay out of pocket costs for clients. Clients are instructed that, depending on the retainer agreement, they may be responsible for some administrative costs, in addition to court filing fees, unless waived through IFP forms. If your office policy is to ask indigent clients to pay administrative costs (copying, mailing, translation, etc), we ask that you notify the Pro Bono Director prior to requesting a client to pay. It is important to set any terms relating to costs in the retainer agreement.
    • Legal Aid is unable to reimburse you for mileage or parking.
  • Who are the Pro Bono clients?

    Every case we refer to the Pro Bono program has gone through Legal Aid’s intake process to determine program eligibility. We generally work with low-income residents of Hennepin County. Individuals are screened to verify:

    • Household income is at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
    • There is a legal issue which falls within the current Pro Bono project guidelines.
    • There appears to be legal merit to the case.
       
  • What is the Pro Bono process for a client?

    Eligible clients are interviewed by Legal Aid staff to gather information to determine conflicts, develop a client file and create a transfer memo for the Pro Bono Program volunteer. Clients are informed that we will attempt to find an attorney for their case. However, no guarantee is made that an attorney will be found to represent the client pro bono. Case synopses are publicized via e-mail, phone and on the Pro Justice website. Once an attorney is identified, the Legal Aid Pro Bono Program will provide the volunteer’s information to the client and transfer the case appropriately. If no volunteer is identified after a significant period of time, the client is notified that their case could not be place with a volunteer attorney.

  • What is the Pro Bono process for an attorney?

    When you volunteer to take a Pro Bono case for direct representation, you are agreeing, at a minimum, to an initial consultation with the client. The Legal Aid Pro Bono Program will provide you with details of the transfer of representation of the client. We will ask the client to contact you for an appointment within the next 5-10 days, depending on the deadline associated with the case. You can reach out to the client if there is a communication lag.

    We ask that you meet with the client with the intent of providing full legal representation on the legal issue initially identified. However, the scope of your relationship with the client will be determined at the first meeting. We encourage Pro Bono Program attorneys to sign a retainer agreement with the client that details the extent of the representation. We are happy to send you sample retainers.

    After your initial meeting with the client, you will need to contact our office. Following that time, we will be in touch with both you and the client, on a periodic basis, to verify that the matter is progressing satisfactorily and to ask for the number of hours spent in consultation. We will also verify that you are receiving the support you need on the matter. You are, of course, always encouraged to contact us with questions. When the case concludes, you must notify the Pro Bono Program director of the resolution. At that time, we will send you a case closing form to collect basic information about the case disposition. You may close the case when you feel it is appropriate, as you would with any paying client.
     

  • If I agree to take a Pro Bono case and it becomes too complex or time consuming, can I withdraw?

    The Pro Bono Program generally offers mentorship and supervision on cases referred by our office. Our goal is to provide you with the training and support to be an effective advocate for the client. If, however, you are unable to complete the representation, we ask that you notify us immediately. Under certain circumstances, we may be able to identify another volunteer or a staff member to take over representation. Please note, in many cases, whether you can withdraw or not will still depend on whether the presiding judge will grant you an order to withdraw.

  • Can I ask for attorney’s fees?

    Yes. If you have a case in which the court permits an award of attorney’s fees, you or your firm are encouraged to ask for these fees. If fees are awarded, you may keep the fees or donate all or part of those fees to MMLA. The arrangement should be set forth in the retainer agreement to avoid confusion at the conclusion of the matter.
     

  • How do I sign up to become a volunteer?

    Complete the online registration form and submit it to our office. If possible, we would also like to see a copy of your recent resume. If you are unable to access the form online, please contact the Pro Bono Director for a copy of the form. Once your information has been received by our office, you will receive an informational call from the program.

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Paralegals

As a paralegal in the Legal Aid Pro Bono Program, you bring a much-needed skillset to the Program. We provide training, administrative support, translation services and malpractice coverage to all volunteers.

  • Interview clients
  • Develop legal fact sheets
  • Assist attorneys in the development of motion documents
  • Provide guidance on e-filing
  • Provide notary services

Requirements

  • In good standing and certified as a paralegal
  • Have notary capabilities (if applicable)

Change a life today




Have Questions? Browse Frequently Asked Questions or contact our Pro Bono Director

Frequently Asked Questions

Get more details on the program, expectations and the commitment requirements you can expect as a volunteer.

  • Where are the pro bono opportunities located?

    The Pro Bono Program works primarily from our Hennepin County location in downtown Minneapolis. All of our workshops are located in Minneapolis as well. If you are interested in volunteering outside of Hennepin County, please contact the Pro Bono Director for information.

  • What is the time commitment required to volunteer?

    Each experience is different. The time you devote to the Program depends directly on the volunteer opportunity you choose and your previous experience with the subject matter. Pro Bono Program volunteers taking direct representation matters can anticipate spending anywhere from 5-40 hours on a case, inclusive of client interviews and court time. Because staff attorneys offer mentorship and limited supervision in many of the cases, we encourage all attorneys to volunteer to represent clients directly. Our office will also provide support and answer any questions throughout the representation.

    Workshops generally last between 3 to 4 hours, depending on the number of clients being served. Some of our workshops require ongoing commitments, such as attending an interview or a court hearing with the client post-workshop. Please make sure that you understand and agree to the expectations of each project you volunteer for because the clients are counting on you!

  • Where will I meet with clients?

    You may work out of your own office or at our office. Our office space is limited, so prior arrangements must be made with the Pro Bono Director. If you have private office space, we encourage you to meet with clients at your offices, keeping in mind the potential constraints (transportation/time) of indigent clients.
     

  • Who are the Pro Bono clients?

    Every case we refer to the Pro Bono program has gone through Legal Aid’s intake process to determine program eligibility. We generally work with low-income residents of Hennepin County. Individuals are screened to verify:

    • Household income is at or below 200 percent of federal poverty guidelines.
    • There is a legal issue which falls within the current Pro Bono project guidelines.
    • There appears to be legal merit to the case.
  • What is the Pro Bono process for a client?

    Eligible clients are interviewed by Legal Aid staff to gather information to determine conflicts, develop a client file and create a transfer memo for the Pro Bono Program volunteer. Clients are informed that we will attempt to find an attorney for their case. However, no guarantee is made that an attorney will be found to represent the client pro bono. Case synopses are publicized via e-mail, phone and on the Pro Justice website. Once an attorney is identified, the Legal Aid Pro Bono Program will provide the volunteer’s information to the client and transfer the case appropriately. If no volunteer
    is identified after a significant period of time, the client is notified that their case could not be place with a volunteer attorney.

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Law Clerks & Students

We rely on law clerks to help us meet the growing needs of our clients. In addition to paid law clerk positions, we also accept a number of volunteer law clerks each summer. These positions are a great way to make a difference and gain valuable experience while making a difference for those in need. We provide training, administrative support, translation services and malpractice coverage to all volunteers. Areas of practice include: consumer issues, disability, housing, immigration, litigation, seniors, state support and resources, tax and youth law.

  • Deliver “Know Your Rights” presentations
  • Speak with clients at legal workshops
  • Update client-focused legal materials
  • Conduct legal research

Requirements

  • Currently attending law school
  • Preliminary experience working with clients and preparing legal documentation.
Summer Clerk

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Have Questions? Contact our Pro Bono Director

Interpreters

When language barriers exist, helping clients understand their rights and gain access to needed legal services can be challenging. Legal Aid’s Pro Bono Program relies on trained volunteer interpreters like you to remove the obstacles and pave the way. We provide training, administrative support, translation services and malpractice coverage to all volunteers.

  • Staff legal workshops
  • Attend administrative hearings
  • Meet with clients and volunteer attorneys in person or via telephone
  • Translate documents
  • Assist in community presentations

Requirements

  • Fluent in both English and a foreign language.
  • Previous experience working with clients to provide interpretation services.

Change a life today




Have Questions? Contact our Pro Bono Director

Pro Bono Programs

Serve clients based on what works best for you. We offer full representation and direct legal services as well as seminars and workshops, legal research and writing projects across a variety of subject matters. We also provide a consulting program for senior attorneys to volunteer time educating other volunteers in specific areas of law. For more information, see our Pro Bono Program Descriptions.

Give what you can, when it works best for you. Expertise is needed in several key practice areas.

Family Law

Help clients with children who are seeking a divorce and/or protection from domestic challenges.

Immigration

Assist clients with affirmative applications to the immigration service and administrative or in-court representation, including citizenship, U Visas and Unaccompanied Minor Screening Projects.

Housing Eviction Expungement

Spot issues, determine defenses and develop and file expungement motions. Staff attorneys provide assistance and opportunities for shadowing throughout the project.

Mediation

Volunteer attorneys are needed to represent and mediate on behalf of Legal Aid clients. When needed, we will provide interpreters to support the client/attorney relationship.

Personal Care Attendant Appeals

Assist clients in asserting their rights with the Department of Human Services after supportive services have been limited.

Reasonable Accommodations in Housing

Assist clients in establishing and asserting their rights to reasonable accommodations in the housing area.

Special Education

Help ensure that children with disabilities receive the educational services and supports they need so that they have an equal opportunity to learn as non-disabled students.

Tax

Counsel low-income taxpayers involved in controversies with the IRS and the Minnesota Department of Revenue.

Needs for Highly-Specialized Skillsets

Needs for Highly-Specialized Skillsets

We also seek volunteers with more specialized areas of expertise to meet the growing needs of our clients.

  • Counsel on large-scale litigation matters
  • Provide independent counsel for low-income individuals in civil matters that are outside of MMLA priorities; examples include probate, guardianship, custody, employment and harassment orders
  • Provide advanced expertise and mentorship to Legal Aid staff and Pro Bono attorneys (for senior, experienced attorneys only)
  • Lead legal research and writing projects: varying in scope from issue briefs and white papers to large-scale collaborative research and writing projects
  • Develop legal fact sheets
Kirsten Olson

Meet Our Pro Bono Director

For additional information or questions contact Kirsten Olson at (612) 746-3716 
or klolson@mylegalaid.org.