The Legal Connector

Vol. 2, No. 6                                                                                                   June 2015
The Closing of Access Justice

Dear Reader, 

 

As reported in "People, Places & Things" below, after several years of operation, the innovative but troubled nonprofit Access Justice PSC has closed its doors.

 

At one point before being hired by Call for Justice, LLC, I had interviewed for the executive director's position with Access Justice. I found the concept--providing low cost legal services to people who make too much to qualify for Legal Aid but who can't afford market rate lawyers--both intriguing and worthy. However, because it appeared that execution of that concept was problematic, I passed on considering the position. 

 

Still, losing Access Justice means there is one less resource for people in legal need. More importantly, the organization's sudden closure (and ensuing discovery that client trust monies apparently had been misappropriated) left a number of clients without legal representation. Some of those clients have been placed with volunteer attorneys, but not all. As a result, various members of the legal community are working to place cases with new attorneys. (A big shout-out to Kirsten Olson of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid for taking a lead on this!). If you or someone you know would be willing to take on family law and harassment cases in metro area courts, please email me at ellen.krug@callforjustice.org. (See the list of cases in "People, Places & Things" below.) 

 

The Access Justice closure raises many questions which we as a legal community need to address in order to avoid a repeat. It also leaves a void which can be filled in part by the soon-to-open Collaborative Community Law Initiative. As some know, this is a project of Hamline and William Mitchell designed to train new lawyers while serving the same group of clients Access Justice served.

 

As the collective Bar, we can do better than what transpired with Access Justice. For me personally, I'm motivated even more to ensure that projects designed to help low- and moderate-income persons in legal need succeed.

 

  

ellie

Goings On:
Here are some happenings within the Twin Cities and Greater Minnesota legal and social services landscapes.
In This Issue:

1. Minnesota State Law Library Issues Annual Report

Great Stats from Our Law Library! 

Did you know that last year the Minnesota State Law Library answered 6,814 reference questions? Or that 67% of the persons accessing the Library's resources did so in person? Or that 14% of user inquiries concerned appeals?

 

All of this and a whole lot more information can be found in the State Law Library's 2014 Annual Report. You can find the report here. It's good to know how the state government's largest law library is serving the public! Kudos to Liz Reppe, State Law Librarian, and her team of super professionals!  

2. Tenth Judicial District Launches Pilot Self-Help Center

Helping Self-Represented Litigants  

June 1 marked the grand opening of the 10th Judicial District Self-Help Center at the Anoka County Courthouse. Administered by Sheldon Clark, the new SHC is a pilot project intends to help self-representing litigants on a variety of matters, including family law, landlord/tenant law, and criminal expungements. Regular walk-in hours are Monday-Thursday from 9-11:30 a.m. and 1:30-3:00 p.m. The SHC is closed on Fridays but will accept telephone calls on that day based on staff availability.  

 

For more information, call the SHC at 763-422-6963 or email 10CourtHelp@courts.state.mn.us. A flyer describing the SHC services can be found here.

3. VLN Sponsors July 23 Ethical Concerns CLE

Timely and Topical 

A lunch hour CLE sponsored by the Volunteer Lawyers Network will take place at the Hennepin County Bar Association offices on July 23. The CLE, entitled "Ethical Concerns for a Legal Services Organization" will cover topics such as inter-agency information sharing and how law students and volunteers are subject to attorney ethical requirements. Pat Burns, First Assistant Director of the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility will present at the CLE, which will offer 1.0 hours of ethics credit.  

 

To register, click here. Questions about this CLE can be directed to Martha Delaney at martha@vlnmn.org.  

4. A Call for Personal Stories by the Sexual Violence Justice Institute

The Sexual Violence Justice Institute is Collecting Stories from Survivors, Advocates and Practitioners  

The Minnesota Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Sexual Violence Justice Institute are in the process of collecting stories to help the public understand trauma-informed care through real-world experiences. They are calling on those who are comfortable sharing their experiences as a way to educate practitioners on using trauma-informed care.

For survivors willing to participate, the Sexual Violence Justice Institute has created a confidential forum to submit stories: www.surveymonkey.com/s/storyproject. Survivors can also send their story via email to Jessica Jerney, Evaluation and Research Coordinator, at jjerney@mncasa.org , or call 651-288-7456. Individuals are also encouraged to forward the call for stories to their professional networks or post it to your website. If interested, they will send you the official website message. View the Story Submission Form and Storytelling Guidelines & Hints.

Stories will be collected until July 31, 2015.
5. LawHelpMN Goes Mobile

Darn Smart and Simple

This week Legal Services State Support is launching its new LawHelpMN mobile website. This site is designed to make the information on LawHelpMN accessible on smartphones and other "smart" mobile devices, with a variety of operating systems such as Droid and iPhone. You can now find Legal Aid organizations, and many useful articles, forms, and resources on your mobile devices at http://m.lawhelpmn.org. Nearly all the articles and forms on the full site are available through the app.

Given how we've become a society of smartphone users, this is a great addition to the toolbox for helping low-income persons connect with legal resources.

People, Places & Things
News about personnel shifts, events, and other items of interest.

Access Justice Closes 

As Ellie reports in her opening comments, Access Justice PSC closed its doors in late March, leaving many clients without either representation or retainer funds. We understand that the Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility has been investigating the closure.

The following matters are ongoing and need immediate counsel:
  • Benton County: Escape and Assault 4th Degree; Settlement hearing set for August 31. (Lost  retainer $1,500.)
  • Hennepin County: Child pornography conviction; Sentencing hearing set for July 9. (Lost retainer $3,000.)
  • Wright County: Felony Domestic Assault; Pretrial hearing "set for August." (Lost retainer $2,015.)
  • Crow Wing County: Domestic Assault and Disorderly Conduct; needs counsel relative to completing probation. (Lost retainer $1,133.)  
  • Ramsey County: Application for Harassment Restraining Order. (Lost retainer $2,013.)
  • Dakota County: Child Custody/Parenting time. Not yet filed. (Lost retainer $1,500.)
If you or someone you know is interested in taking on one of these matters, please contact Ellie Krug at ellen.krug@callforjustice.org.

Fifth Year Attorney/Mentee of Ellie Krug Seeks Position

Ellie has long mentored to a young woman of color who's an attorney and who presently works for the state of Minnesota doing program compliance work. She is a 2010 graduate of Hamline University Law School and holds both a MSW and a JD. This person seeks to make a move back to direct client representation and has asked that C4J post her availability in TLC. If you're interested in hearing more about this exceptional young lawyer, please contact Ellie at ellen.krug@callforjustice.org.  

Emily Good Starts with State Support

Emily Good, a 2003 graduate of the University of Minnesota Law School, recently started with Legal Services State Support as the Legal Projects Manager. Emily formerly worked at the Advocates for Human Rights. Welcome to State Support, Emily! You're in with a great group of people doing exceptionally great work!

In Closing
If you have an announcement or legal update that you'd like to submit for possible inclusion in our July issue, please contact Program Manager Emily Lindholm at emily.lindholm@callforjustice.org by July 10.

Sincerely,

Ellen (Ellie) Krug
Executive Director
ellen.krug@callforjustice.org
- Made Possible by C4J Donors -

 

Foundation Support:
The Dorsey & Whitney Foundation, F.R. Bigelow Foundation, Hennepin County Bar Foundation, Leonard, Street and Deinard Foundation, Otto Bremer Foundation, Ramsey County Bar Foundation and The Saint Paul Foundation.

 

Law Firm Support:
Aafedt, Forde, Gray, Monson & Hager, P.A., Arthur Chapman Kettering Smetak & Pikala, P.A., Barry & Helwig, LLC, Bassford Remele, A Professional Association, Best & Flanagan LLP, Briggs and Morgan, Professional Association, Chestnut Cambronne PA, Collins, Buckley, Sauntry & Haugh, PLLP, Cooper & Reid, LLC, Cousineau McGuire, Chartered, Dorsey & Whitney LLP, Eric Richard Law Office, Faegre Baker Daniels LLP, Fish & Richardson P.C., Foley & Mansfield, PLLP, Fredrikson & Byron, PA, Gray Plant Mooty, Halleland Habicht PA, Halunen & Associates, Henson & Efron, P.A., Hinshaw & Culbertson LLP, Jerry A. Burg Law Office, Kennedy & Graven, Chartered, Larkin Hoffman Daly & Lindgren Ltd., Larson King, LLP, Lind, Jensen, Sullivan & Peterson, P.A., Lindquist & Vennum LLP, Maslon LLP, Mansfield, Tanick & Cohen, P.A., McShane Bankruptcy LLC, Meagher & Geer, P.L.L.P., Merchant & Gould, Moss & Barnett, A Professional Association, Nilan Johnson Lewis PA, Oppenheimer Wolff & Donnelly LLP, Robins Kaplan LLP, Schwegman, Lundberg & Woessner, P.A., Stinson Leonard Street LLP, Unger Law Office, Wallen-Friedman & Floyd, PA and Zelle Hofmann Voelbel & Mason LLP.

 

Business & Community Support:
Best Western Normandy Inn, Boston Scientific, Brending Electrolysis, Carpenter, Evert and Associates, Ltd., Court Videographer Services, Inc., Greater Twin Cities United Way, Michaud, Cooley, Erickson & Associates, Inc. and Minnesota Lawyers Mutual Insurance Company.  

 

Friends of Justice (Individual Donors):
Lisa Lamm Bachman, Ginny A. Bell, Les Bendtsen, Mark Bloomquist, Elizabeth A. Brenner, Dan Burton, Vicki & Richard Carlson, Regina M. Chu, Emily Cooper, David Couillard, John Daly, Gina DeConcini, Martha Delaney, Paul Dieseth, Liz & Brian Dillon, Phyllis Doman, Jerrad Fenske, Charles Ferrell (In honor of Richard Kyle), Al & Ellen Fisher, Donna & Paul Floyd, Donald & Arvonne Fraser, Tom Fraser, Sara Galligan, Beth Garland, Elise Ginsburg, Sara Granberg-Rademacker, Fouthma Haji-Taki, Rebecca Hallette, Joy Hamilton, Frank & Jayne Harris, Bradley Hart, Robert J. Hauer, Jr., Catharine Haukedahl, Dick & Peg Kavaney, Amy Walsh Kern, Anita Kozan (In memory of Ruth Evelyn Iverson Kozan), Ellen Krug, Mark Krug, Richard Kyle, Jr. & Elizabeth Wittenberg, Brian & Erin Lindholm, Jim Long, John Medeiros, Pete Michaud & Tom Wilson, Caitlin Miles, Alan Miller, Kathy Moran, Ari Murphy, Jean Nead, Crystal Ng, Kathy Nielsen, Kelly Olmstead, Melissa Otto, Laurie & Gary Pearcy, Gary Pederson, Kelly Phillips, David Piper, David Potter, Jill Prohofsky, Paul Quast, Linda Raines, Mary Rea, Christine Rehm, Thea Reilkoff, Liz Reppe, Brent Routman, Joseph Satter, Laura Strong & Pam Michaud, John L. Sullivan, Vanessa Tennyson, Dennis Tharp, Jamila Tharp, Tom Tinkham & Jacquelyn "Jacq" Hauser, Mike Unger, Mary Vasaly, Ella Washington, Paul Wehrwein, Jodi Williams and Jay Wolkenbrod.