Dear Partners in Service,

I write today to share how LASNEM has responded to the COVID-19 pandemic. We are in unprecedented times. For the individuals represented by LASNEM members, the COVID-19 pandemic is even more threatening. LASNEM continues to assess how we can best serve our communities during this time of crisis.

We are continually monitoring the recommendations put forth by the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the World Health Organization, the Minnesota Department of Health, and our local authorities for instruction and guidance. When determining how LASNEM should respond to these recommendations, our priority is the health and safety of our clients, staff, and communities we serve. Last week, LASNEM cancelled all community outreach, in-person intake, trainings, and clinics. This week, LASNEM worked swiftly to transfer its operational environment to a remote one. This means our physical offices are now closed to the public.

I am so incredibly proud of the team at LASNEM – they have all stepped up to ensure we could swiftly and seamlessly transition to remote working environments. LASNEM is still open for intake by telephone and online . We are still providing quality and compassionate legal representation to our clients: remotely and in court. We are adapting to the daily changes – whether it is limitations by each courthouse, recommendations from the CDC, or closures by many service providing partners.

We will keep you updated regularly on operational changes at LASNEM. As we continue to learn the changing needs of our clients, we will adapt our operations to meet those needs. We are focusing efforts to systemically advocate for our client communities because of the disproportionate impact the COVID-19 fallout has had on them. LASNEM is currently developing a hotline so we can increase our response time, because now more than ever, we must rapidly respond to the newly emerging needs of our clients.

As we enter this new chapter, partnerships and collaborations are critical. We will reach out to local partners to explore new methods for increasing service to individuals given the restrictions on gathering in public places and limiting face to face contact. We must work together to leverage technology to ensure individuals have access to legal assistance.

Please reach out to the team at LASNEM with your thoughts, ideas, and questions. We will do all that we can to support our partners.

Stay safe, healthy, and home if you can.

In Partnership,

Dori Streit
Executive Director
Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota