SMRLS has been following the spread of COVID-19 in Minnesota and the rest of our country. As the virus continues to spread, we are changing how you work with our clients during this time. All in-person clinics have been suspended. However, we are making continuous efforts to serve clients remotely. If you were scheduled to volunteer at a clinic within the next month, you should be receiving information on if and how the clinic will be taking place remotely.
While day-to-day work is on hold in much of the country during the COVID-19 stay-at-home order, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services’ Volunteer Attorney Program still has plenty of need for volunteers. Now, we can use as much or as little time as you have to offer.
If you are an attorney who is able to represent a low-income client in a Pro Bono matter, you can videoconference or telephone a client to discuss the case, submit court filings, and work with them to prepare for the day that courthouses resume full operations. We also have many clients who only need legal advice to get their problem resolved. Some of the legal problems clients are now facing include debt and garnishment, contracts, landlord tenant, employment and unemployment, probate, and family law issues.
If you are not an attorney, SMRLS also needs your help! Intake operators are a critical component of SMRLS’ response to families seeking assistance, making sure their needs are heard, qualifying them under Federal income rules, and pairing them swiftly with the correct lawyers and specialists. If you have extra time during the Stay-at-Home Order, working with a client remotely or serving as an intake operator can be a great way to contribute to your community during this difficult time.
Legal aid cases are expected to surge as COVID-19 restrictions begin to lift. This is something SMRLS is working very hard to prepare for. If you would like to serve as an attorney at a walk-in clinic in your community or volunteer on our hotline serving remote clients after the pandemic has subsided, we can use your skills. If you are not an attorney you may be able to help register clients at a post-pandemic clinic. Keep an eye on our website and social media. We will be posting new opportunities as the situation changes.
Contact a Volunteer Coordinator to learn more. Renee Krause (firstname.lastname@example.org) serves SE Minnesota, Forrest McKnight (email@example.com) serves SW Minnesota/Greater Mankato, and Emily Bowen (firstname.lastname@example.org) serves the Twin Cities Metro area.
Use your skills to make a difference
Opportunities to work with clients range from advice-only counseling, to brief services, to full representation. We match client needs to the practice areas preferred by each volunteer attorney. Volunteer attorneys handle a wide variety of cases, including:
- Consumer: Issues with credit or creditors, consumer contracts, bankruptcy, defective goods, consumer contracts
- Discrimination and Civil Rights: In housing, education, public services, including disability discrimination
- Employment: Discrimination, employee rights, wage and hour issues, termination
- Family: Domestic abuse, divorce, child custody, third party custody, pro se divorce clinics
- Housing and Real Estate: Foreclosure, eviction defense, repair of substandard housing, fair housing, utility shutoffs, subsidized housing, contract for deed cancellation, condemnation
- Probate: Guardianship, conservatorship, estate administration
- Public Benefits: Unemployment compensation, public benefit payments (GA, SSI, Social Security, Food Support) and medical needs (MA, MinnesotaCare), work requirements, and criminal records expungement
- Tax: Individual, federal and state
Good for you; good for others
Did you know there are over 2900 eligible clients for every paid legal aid attorney in Minnesota?
Serving as a volunteer can be a very rewarding experience, while providing valuable legal services to someone in need. It also helps fulfill the aspirational goal of providing 50 hours of pro bono service annually for those who cannot pay.
Volunteer Attorneys earn 1 CLE credit for every 6 hours of volunteer work, for up to 6 credits in a CLE Reporting period. Learn more about the Minnesota Rules of Professional Responsibility 6.1 and the rules of the Minnesota State Board of Continuing Legal Education, Rule 6.D. Register for CLE credit by completing the Affidavit of Pro Bono Representation form and submitting it to email@example.com.