Fall 2017 Newsletter

2017 Outstanding Awards Nominations Now Open

Do you know an attorney (private practice or public interest), law student, paralegal or legal advocate who has made a significant contribution to poverty law or public interest work?

If so, the Minnesota Justice Foundation encourages you to submit your nominations for deserving recipients in one or more of four Outstanding Service award categories:

Law Student Volunteer Awards (one from each of the three Minnesota Law Schools)
Private Practice Lawyer Award
Advocate Award
Direct Legal Service Award

Please follow this link to electronically complete a nomination form. Once you submit the form, you will have the option to return to it later if necessary to add or change any information.

Please submit the nomination form by October 6, 2017.

Our Anniversary Awards Celebration will take place Wednesday, November 15, 2017, at International Market Square. Our keynote speaker will be the Honorable David L. Lillehaug, Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court..

Pass this announcement and materials on to any interested parties.

Please forward questions or comments to me at or 612-625-0777.

Thank you. We look forward to receiving your nominations!

2017 Summer Clerkships

Standpoint staff: Madeline Kiehn, Lindsay Brice, Rana Alexander, Thi Synavone, Rachel Kohler and Chamee Vue (photo by Noah Finn)

Lora Fike: Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services

I experienced the sincere joy of serving as a certified student attorney through the Minnesota Justice Foundation’s clerkship placement at the Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) Government Benefits office in downtown Saint Paul. I worked alongside a team of passionate and dedicated attorneys who mentored me in my writing and advocacy skills. Most important, though, were the interactions with clients where I had to think on my feet to help address government benefit issues.

This summer I have been able to help people get their utilities turned back on, get back-payment for their food benefits due to county errors, and validate client’s frustration. I learned so much about being part of a legal team, how to sharpen my writing craft, and how to tailor a closing statement on the fly based on the opposition’s argument. I am so grateful for my time with SMRLS.

Noah Finn: Standpoint

This summer I worked at Standpoint, formerly known as the Battered Women’s Legal Advocacy Project.

I read Minnesota appellate case law related to domestic and sexual violence. This turns out to be a very broad category. I read cases related to a variety of crimes, family law, and child protection services cases. I summarized these cases as part of Standpoint’s New Laws program, which helps prepare lawyers and advocates for dealing with new laws related to domestic and sexual violence.

I was able to learn something about the types of people committing domestic and sexual violence by reading so many of these cases. Reading statements abusers made in attempts to explain or justify their actions was fascinating because the statements make little sense. One abuser, after committing an offense that lead to the termination of his parental rights, claimed he never harmed his children, only his girlfriend’s child, so there was no reason for the court to terminate his parental rights. It was interesting and sad to see just how irrational people can be.

It felt really good being able to have the opportunity to assist the attorneys at Standpoint. I may have had a fairly limited role, but the broader project of the New Laws program is something I consider very important and I was glad to be helpful. Being part of a service that educates advocates and attorneys, so they can better serve some one of the most vulnerable populations was incredibly rewarding.

Anna Street: Central Minnesota Legal Services

This summer, I served as a Minnesota Justice Foundation certified student attorney with Central Minnesota Legal Services (CMLS) in their Minneapolis office. The organization focuses primarily on family law, but I was able to learn about housing and benefits issues as well.

I learned so much while being a clerk at CMLS and that was hugely in part due to the wonderful women attorneys that work there. Every young woman attorney should get to learn about housing law from Elizabeth Sauer, every young woman attorney should get to see Erin Osborne advocate for an order for protection, and every young woman should be able to be led by Jean Lastine. Because they love what they do so much, they care for their clients beyond what is expected, and their desire to change the law and change the whole of society is inspiring. Along with the other great women attorneys that showed me their style of negotiating, their client interaction techniques and their friendly office demeanor. The most influential part of my summer clerkship was being able to see women attorneys doing amazing things.

Not only am I grateful for the clients that I was able to meet, or the Judges that allowed me to stammer through introducing myself on the record, but I am than grateful for getting the opportunity to remind myself why I wanted to go to law school. I saw so many powerful women doing exactly what I wrote about doing in all my law school applications – helping people, that really need help, and cannot afford help.

2017 Tri-PIE: October 24

The Tri-School Public Interest Expo (Tri-PIE) is one of the largest nonprofit, public interest, and government receptions of the year. 1Ls, 2Ls, and 3Ls from all three local law schools will be joined by Minnesota nonprofit, government, public interest, legal aid, immigration, and public defense agencies as well as the Minnesota bar agencies to talk about summer job opportunities, volunteer opportunities, and post-graduate careers. This is a networking event for employers interested in connecting with students from Mitchell Hamline School of Law, University of St. Thomas School of Law, and the University of Minnesota Law School who are exploring public service paths.

This year’s event is being hosted by Mitchell Hamline School of Law on October 24. Appetizers and beverages will be provided. Save the date and look for registration information in the near future. This is sure to be one of the premier events of the year for anyone interested in learning about a nonprofit, public interest, or government career.