Staff Attorney for Healthcare Legal Partnership, Mankato

Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services, Inc., (SMRLS) is seeking to fill a Staff Attorney position in the Mankato Office of its Southwest Region for its “healthcare legal partnership” with the Open Door Health Center (ODHC). The Lawyers Advancing Wellness at Open Door (LAW) partnership integrates free civil legal services into a health care delivery model. The attorney will handle a variety of poverty law matters.  This is a grant-funded position through 2019 and highly anticipated for renewal due to its success. 

The SMRLS Southwest Region has offices in Mankato and Worthington to assist low income persons in the 17 counties of southern Minnesota west of Interstate 35 to the South Dakota border. There are currently 12 attorney positions in the two offices, including two attorneys working on its Intake Hotline, along with 8 paralegal and clerical staff.

SMRLS is a non-profit law firm that receives federal, state, local, public, and private funding to provide free legal help to low income and elderly people who reside in 33 counties of southern Minnesota, including the St. Paul metropolitan area.  As Minnesota’s oldest legal aid program (founded in 1909), SMRLS has established a tradition of partnership with the private bar, a bi-partisan Legislature, the Minnesota Supreme Court and other Minnesota Legal Services Coalition programs in providing access to justice.  SMRLS has an experienced, dynamic staff of 60 attorneys and 45 additional staff.  Hundreds of volunteer attorneys help staff to provide legal assistance to approximately 10,000 eligible persons each year.

SMRLS is a client-centered organization which is committed to its Mission of providing a full range of high quality legal services, in a respectful manner which enable clients to: enforce their legal rights; maintain freedom from hunger, homelessness, sickness and abuse; and empower persons and ensure equal opportunity, thus, helping persons to help themselves and become economically self-reliant, to the extent their individual abilities and circumstances permit. SMRLS has adopted Practice Standards and Guiding Principles to accomplish its Mission and has established case priorities which govern the types of cases which will be accepted for representation.

SMRLS values, welcomes and promotes diversity in all aspects of its work.  SMRLS serves clients from a wide range of backgrounds.  SMRLS has adopted a Racial Justice policy to guide the firm’s work towards racial equality.

ODHC, a community health center, was founded in 1994 in Mankato as a volunteer-run clinic which today has over 120 paid staff members who provide integrated medical, dental, behavioral health (including mental health and substance abuse), outreach, and enabling support services to people across southern Minnesota. ODHC’s services are designed to meet the needs of low income and underserved communities in the region. ODHC offers a sliding fee scale. ODHC serves approximately 10,000 patients each year.

Mankato is located on the Minnesota River, about 90 miles southwest of the Twin Cities and has a state university, with several other colleges in the area.  It is the regional hub for an estimated 260,000 persons in southern Minnesota.


The LAW Staff Attorney position provides legal assistance to eligible clients with Housing Law, Government Benefits matters, Health Law, Family Law, and other types of problems. The attorney provides legal advice and represents clients in contested court and administrative proceedings. Assignments may change over time based upon client and firm needs. The attorney is the primary point of contact for ODHC patients with SMRLS and is available on-site at the ODHC facility a minimum of 50% of the time. The attorney attends ODHC staff meetings to answer questions and provide information tailored to facilitate cross-training between SMRLS and ODHC staff. The attorney must accept supervision and must be willing to maintain a caseload in compliance with SMRLS’ written practice standards and comply with SMRLS’ policies, practices, and guiding principles in furtherance of SMRLS’ Mission. Community education, outreach, intake responsibilities, and active bar participation are also required activities.  Substantial local travel is required. The position is funded by several grants, including ones from the Otto Bremer Foundation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Minnesota Foundation, and the Greater Mankato Area United Way.


Must be licensed to practice law in Minnesota or be a candidate for Bar admission. Non-academic experience working in low income communities, or other activities that demonstrate an interest in working with low income clients, will be given great weight.  Demonstrated ability to work effectively with victims of domestic abuse and persons from different cultural backgrounds is essential.  Prior experience working in or familiarity with healthcare settings will be helpful. Good communication skills; ability to work constructively with others in a team work setting; good judgment; strong organizational capability: ability to learn quickly and to work hard, independently, and under pressure; and ability to handle contested hearings are all required. Fluency in a second language, particularly Spanish or Somali, will be beneficial but is not required.  Basic computer competence required.      


The salary is $50,008+ DOE, pursuant to scale.  Good medical and dental benefits provided.           


As soon as possible after the position is filled.


Apply online, or email or mail cover letter and resume with  references to:                                     

                                                            Larry Nicol, Senior Leadership Attorney
                                                            12 Civic Center Plaza, Suite 3000
                                                            Mankato, MN 56001




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