Winter 2020 Newsletter

Creative Kuponya

In November, the Minnesota Justice Foundation hosted the professionals at Creative Kuponya for a virtual event open to students at all three law schools concerning the impacts of vicarious and secondary trauma within the legal profession. Creative Kuponya founders, Sara and Jamil Stamschror-Lott, facilitated the conversation with students and offered participants an opportunity to express how they were handling the stress of the COVID-19 pandemic, law school, and their other obligations to work and family. Jamil and Sara provided additional information and context about how our bodies respond to stress and various coping mechanisms.

In the one-hour small group discussion, participants had the opportunity to hear from Jamil and Sara about how to process pain, metabolize trauma, recognize a client’s trauma, and understand secondary trauma. Jamil and Sara have experience consulting with lawyers and law firms on issues related to mental health; therefore, their insight was provided within the framework of how secondary trauma affects legal professionals. Jamil and Sara also provided some practical tips for students about how to support their own mental resilience. The advice and discussion was greatly appreciated by the law students and MJF staff.

Creative Kuponya have been recognized and featured by USA Today, Kare 11, Fox 9, WCCO, and many others. Jamil provides mental health consultations, restorative justice circles in local communities, and therapy services. Amongst her many other roles, Sara also serves as the Wellness Director at All Square, a civil rights organization that works towards dismantling the barriers of oppression towards individuals impacted by the criminal justice system. The work of Creative Kuponya has been very beneficial, as evidenced in our most recent discussion with Jamil and Sara.

To learn more about Creative Kuponya, please visit their website.

To learn more about All Square, visit their website or restaurant (check hours):

4047 Minnehaha Avenue

Minneapolis, Minnesota 55406

To read more about their work in our community, click here.

2020 Virtual Annual Awards Celebration

For the first time in our history, MJF hosted an online version of our Annual Awards Celebration.

Our guests joined us on September 30, 2020, for a quick virtual cocktail/mocktail lesson, then stuck around to watch keynote speaker Ivan Fong and to hear from the winners of our 2020 Outstanding Service Awards:

Direct Service Provider: Erin Osborne (CMLS)
Private Practice Pro Bono: Richard Allyn (Robins Kaplan LLP)
Advocate: Sothea Phea Poch (SMRLS)
Law Student awards:
Katherine Boland (University of St. Thomas School of Law)
Marisa Tillman (University of Minnesota Law School)
Dylan O’Brien (Mitchell Hamline School of Law)

Conditional Medical Release Project

In addition, MJF recognized the work done in 2020 by the Mitchell Hamline Reentry Clinic, in association with Mitchell Hamline Professors Jon Geffen and Bradford Colbert, University of Minnesota Professor Perry Moriearty, University of St. Thomas Professor Mark Osler, and students from all three law schools.

Beginning in April 2020, the three local law schools urgently began to assist incarcerated individuals apply for conditional medical release (“CMR”). This process was created to seek the release of incarcerated individuals who have illness or conditions that make them susceptible to COVID-19. The five largest hot spots for COVID-19 in the country are in jails and prisons. The Minnesota Department of Corrections (“DOC”) agreed to allow incarcerated individuals to call a newly formed law school “hotline” to complete the application forms. Unfortunately, due to the volume of calls, the Mitchell Hamline Reentry Clinic needed numerous volunteers to answer calls. Moreover, because the callers are incarcerated, they were unable to call them back. It became clear they needed help. Professors from the local law schools sent emails to students seeking volunteers for this important project. The response from law students was overwhelming. The response from the callers was exclusively positive and routinely praised the work of the students. In all, students drafted nearly 300 applications for CMR and took hundreds more calls from family and friends. As of July 16, 2020, DOC has approved the release of 164 individuals and the number is still increasing. None of this was possible without the selfless volunteers who stepped up in a time of crisis and helped. The students’ actions epitomize the empathy and dedication we want from future lawyers and society.

MJF recognizes the work of these law student volunteers:

Annika Beck
Claire Beyer
Anne Bolgert
Kjestina E. Bruer
Emily Curran
Abrianna Dolfi
Thomas D. Godfrey
Kevin Gray
Braxton Haake
Abigail Hanson
Holly Harrington
Chad Huot
Maya Johnson
Catherine Keating
Sara Jane Koste
Nari Kretschmer
Sam Logterman
Kristina Ludewig
Andrea J. Meitler
Jessica M. Nyland
Elizabeth Pancratz
John Schwieters
Laura Sweeney
Matthew Thom
Brandon Vaca
Madison Vandenberg
Angela Whicher
Lindsay Zerfas

A video of the complete program is here.

The program book for the event can be found here.

The full text of keynote speaker Ivan Fong’s speech is here.

Street Law

Every Spring semester, MJF invites pairs/small groups of law students to collaborate with middle school, high school, and adult learning classrooms to teach various legal concepts to students. Law student volunteers, together with the classroom teachers and students, decide on which areas of law are of interest to the classroom. Some topics requested are: criminal law, family law, interacting with the police, constitutional law, immigration, etc.

In addition to students learning their legal rights and responsibilities in society, it also serves as a pipeline project to inspire students to go to law school in the future.

This year, as we enter into a new world of distance learning, we are excited to see law students engage creatively with their virtual street law classrooms.