In attendance: Karen Canon, Emily Cooper, Janine Laird, Jean Lastine, Theresa Murray Hughes, Candee Goodman, Michael Vitt, Caroline Palmer, and Steve Hirsh
Karen Canon called the meeting to order and the minutes from the August 9, 2007 meeting were approved.
Karen reported that the Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged (LAD) Committee approved Pro Bono Council becoming a formal subcommittee of LAD. LAD asked Pro Bono Council to review its charter and see if any changes need to be made to reflect this new status. Karen reviewed the main objectives of Pro Bono Council: 1) serve as a voice for pro bono; 2) serve as a strategy/policy arm for pro bono; 3) review current statewide initiatives and develop its own; and 4) be a full partner in state planning body. The group discussed whether these objectives were inclusive enough for other LAD members and felt that nothing would be changed about the objectives this year. At the next LAD meeting Pro Bono Council will see if any additional LAD members would like to join.
Karen reported that LAD is planning to revisit the issue of mandatory (unified) pro bono reporting. A LAD subcommittee was formed to study the issue. The group decided to invite the subcommittee to join with Pro Bono Council (since there was cross-over in membership anyway and the issue is of interest). A meeting date was set and the subcommittee members will be invited, along with Nancy Kleeman, Tom Mielenhausen and Cathy Haukedahl, all of whom have past experience with the issue. Caroline Palmer will get a MJF student to research current state trends in mandatory reporting.
The group also discussed whether the new LAD publications subcommittee, which is designed to increase media visibility for legal services and pro bono issues, would also be a good fit with Pro Bono Council but it was decided that the issue was broader than pro bono and therefore better left as a separate subcommittee.
Emily Cooper and Theresa Murray Hughes raised the possibility of planning a joint meeting for the Pro Bono Roundtable and the Minnesota Volunteer Attorney Program coordinators. One of the topics discussed was how to roll out a pro bono program in a law firm and make it effective. The program could get CLE credit to make it more attractive to attendees and include a lunch in which the two different groups could mingle. Two potential dates were considered: March 11 and April 8. The date will be selected at the November meeting.
Emily also reported that the new ProJusticemn.org rollout is on track for the end of October and that there is a pro bono resources folder that could use content. All in attendance were asked to send her pro bono policies and other relevant materials to include in the online folder.
The next Pro Bono Council meeting will be Tuesday, November 27 at 11:30
a.m. at the MSBA.
In attendance: Karen Canon, Brad Thorsen, Emily Cooper, Jean Lastine, Mary Durand, Theresa Murray Hughes, Caroline Palmer, Steve Hirsh; Janine Laird (telephone).
Karen Canon called the meeting to order and the minutes from the May 30, 2007 meeting were approved.
Karen reported on her meeting with Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged (LAD) committee co-chairs Pat Burns and Cathy Haukedahl. LAD will take up the issue of Pro Bono Council becoming part of LAD at LAD's September 11, 2007 meeting. The thought is that Pro Bono Council would become a standing committee of LAD. This would provide more staff support to Pro Bono Council and its work would be more closely tied into LAD initiatives. Pro Bono Council might be the first stop for new initiatives, rather than having LAD creating new subcommittees. The group discussed what form Pro Bono Council should take if it becomes part of LAD - continue the joint venture structure or become more of a typical LAD subcommittee that members join. Theresa Murray Hughes said the pro bono coordinators said it made sense to have a "hybrid" structure - keep the agreement but there are additional groups that could take part. There was further discussion about whether to keep the agreement since a LAD member can join any subcommittee - perhaps creating a charter or mission would work. Everyone would feel welcome. On a practical level if Pro Bono Council is part of LAD it can still keep its identity but will work with LAD to pursue initiatives that can go to the bar assembly.
The group then considered the Hennepin County Bar Association/Hennepin County Bar Foundation/Volunteer Lawyers network report regarding hiring a pro bono coordinator at the HCBA to increase mid-size and small firm involvement. The proposal was considered by the VLN executive committee. There are many questions about the position including how it will be funded, where it will be housed (not at VLN), it could create conflicts with other programs. There was a hope that firms would step up to provide the funds rather than seeking from sources that are already supporting legal services and pro bono programs. It wasn't clear that the small and mid-sized firms want this position to exist. VLN will continue to discuss it but is not taking it on at this time. VLN is, however, trying to do recruiting in mid-size firms.
Theresa indicated that the firms are interested in working on more immigration issues, particularly workplace enforcement. Steve Hirsh offered to have Susan Koberstein, the immigration coordinator at the Coalition, contact Theresa to discuss it further.
The next Pro Bono Council meeting will be Tuesday, October 2 at 12
noon at the MSBA.
In attendance: Karen Canon, Janine Laird, Mary Durand, Bruce Beneke, Emily Cooper, Brad Thorsen, Jean Lastine, Caroline Palmer, Steve Hirsh, Theresa Hughes; by phone: Patty Murto; guest: Professor Deborah Schmedemann.
Karen Canon called the meeting to order and the minutes from the November 2, 2006 meeting were approved. "Community" was changed to "committee" in the fourth paragraph.
Professor Deborah Schmedemann presented preliminary results from her Pro Bono Perceptions study of William Mitchell College of Law 2001-04 graduates. She distributed the results and a discussion followed. The presentation will be included with the meeting minutes and distributed to the entire Pro Bono Council membership.
Canon then led a discussion of the Pro Bono Council's role (acting as a voice for pro bono, coordinating, planning, serving as an advisory group). Canon reviewed the chart created with Caroline Palmer outlining the different bodies that impact pro bono in the state. The chart will be included with the meeting minutes and distributed to the entire Pro Bono Council membership. There was additional discussion about the Pro Bono Council and MVAP relationship as well as how to expand the Pro Bono Council membership.
Cooper gave an update on MVAP activities with regard to CLE scholarships and ProJusticeMn.org. Cooper also mentioned that the MSBA will be automatically signing on legal services and pro bono staff to PracticeLaw.org. Thorsen expressed concern that pro bono volunteers were not included in this initiative. Palmer responded that is an eventual goal but is dependent on staffing issues (the MSBA is currently hiring a new Practicelaw director) and technology capabilities, both of which are in process.
The next Pro Bono Council meeting will be Thursday, March 8, 2007 at
12 noon at the MSBA.
In attendance: Karen Canon (chair); Malinda Schmiechen, Mary Durand, Theresa Murray Hughes, Brad Thorsen, Janine Laird, Jean Lastine, and Kari Wangensteen (phone); Jessie Carlson (Minnesota Legal Services Coalition); Emily Cooper and Caroline Palmer (MSBA staff).
Karen Canon moved approval of the minutes from the June 12, 2006 meeting. The minutes were approved.
Jessie Carlson from the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition requested suggestions for trainings from the group. The Coalition holds about 12-15 trainings a year worth up to 8 CLE credits. The Coalition will have its next biannual state conference in 2007. The trainings are on civil law and poverty law issues. The trainings are open at a discounted rate to volunteer attorneys and to staff from other LSAC programs. Volunteers are allowed to attend for free and programs send in a voucher to pay for the volunteer at the legal aid rate. Suggested topics included the new child support law, issue spotting, how to supervise law students, immigration and criminal representation.
Canon reported on the data collection project. Reports are still being collected.
Emily Cooper introduced herself as the new MSBA Pro Bono Manager. She will serve as the MVAP Executive Director and work on ProJusticeMn.org. She gave an update on the ProJustice usability study and she is developing a work plan for ProJustice.
Caroline Palmer reported on the MSBA's Pro Bono Report that will be published in June 2007. She solicited volunteers for an advisory committee and Jean Lastine volunteered to join.
The group discussed goals and initiatives for the coming year. Canon will send around the original list of goals and initiatives to revisit and make decisions for the work in the coming year.
Palmer and Brad Thorsen briefly reported on the LAD proposals addressing CLE credit for pro bono and emeritus/pro bono practice rules.
Palmer reported that the LAD statewide access subcommittee had its first meeting and will be meeting again. Mary Durand reported that Hennepin County Bar Association is working on a pilot project. More details at the next meeting.
The next Pro Bono Council will be Thursday, November 2 at the MSBA.
In Attendance: Karen Canon (chair), Jean Lastine, Janine Laird, Brad Thorsen, Caroline Palmer, Mary Durand, Theresa Hughes, by telephone: Patty Murto, Kari Wangensteen; guest: Professor Deb Schmedemann and Mary Schmedemann; MSBA staff: Guen Easley
Karen Canon opened the meeting and welcome Professor Deb Schmedemann to present on her findings so far in her one-year sabbatical project studying pro bono publico. Deb introduced her daughter Mary who is helping her with some of the analysis. Deb gave a review of her research so far and handed out a summary of her recent findings. She is not prepared to share this information with the broader public yet but she reviewed some information collected from Professional Responsibility students about how likely it was that they would take a case, depending on who asked (bar leaders, law firm partners, friends), and the result was that partners or friends carried more weight. She also reviewed questions asked about the type of assistance a legal services agency could provide to a volunteer (manual, staff attorney mentor, and experienced co-counsel being the top three answers) and the most appealing ways to do pro bono work (brief advice, working on a precedent-setting case, and advising a public interest organization being the top three answers). The group discussed several of Deb's findings and found her report to very helpful so far. Deb will continue her research and will communicate with the Pro Bono Council about her findings. It is anticipated that Deb will present on her research to the Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee as well.
The group then reviewed the data collection sheet presented by Jean Lastine and made several suggestions to change the format and some of the data collected. Once the changes are made the data collection sheet will be sent to LSAC recipients for data collection during March and April 2006.
Having run out of time the group decided to postpone discussion of the MVAP tech project, ProJustice, the LAD CLE Credit for Pro Bono, and Katrina Relief activities until the next meeting.
The next Pro Bono Council meeting will be April 6, 2006 at 12 noon at the MSBA.
In Attendance: Karen Canon (Chair), Janine Laird, Brad Thorsen, Theresa Hughes, Jean Lastine, Bruce Beneke, Caroline Palmer (MSBA staff), Nancy Mischel (MSBA staff) and Candee Goodman (guest); by telephone: Patty Murto, Mary Durand, Doug Johnson.
Karen Canon (Chair) called the meeting to order and explained that as chair of the Pro Bono Council Task Force she had called this special meeting and, absent objection, would serve as chair for purposes of today’s meeting. At the first “official” meeting on September 30, 2005 officers will be elected and other operating procedures will be decided. Karen reiterated that the purpose of Pro Bono Council (PBC) (which went into effect on July 1, 2005) is to serve as the voice of pro bono. PBC will not compete for the limited funds available to its constituent organizations and is not a 501(c)(3) organization. The reason Karen called this meeting is to address the upcoming Legal Services Advisory Committee (LSAC) deadline (September 9, 2005) and discuss three specific projects that will be proposed by groups seeking funds, specifically the MVAP technology initiative, the hotline for Spanish speakers, and the possibility of statewide hotline feasibility study.
It still needs to be determined whether Children’s Law Center will be joining the PBC. Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights will not join right now but may do so in a year. They are interested in serving in an advisory function.
Karen asked Caroline Palmer to give a report on the MVAP technology initiative. Caroline explained that she and Nancy Mischel are working on an initiative that originated out of the Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee (LAD). Many of the non-LSC programs do not have adequate computer hardware or software to efficiently manage their programs. A few years ago the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition (Coalition) obtained a Bush Foundation grant to assist their programs and Nancy and Caroline have been reviewing the application and reports to aid in development a needs assessment grant. Sue Ponsford from MAP for Nonprofits is currently putting together a proposal of costs for their office to conduct site visits at each of the roughly 20 non-LSC offices to evaluate current equipment and make recommendations based on program needs. MVAP will request a grant from LSAC in the amount of $10,000 to $12,000 to fund this project. Once the LSAC funds are secured additional funders will be approached for capital grants to help programs actually implement the technology recommendations made by MAP for Nonprofits. Bruce Beneke stated that from a Legal Services Commission point-of-view it is a terrific idea, the commission emphasized technology and collaboration. Bruce stated that the Coalition would provide a letter of support.
Caroline and Nancy will contact each of the eligible programs to inform them of this project and request letters of support. Caroline asked whether the PBC could also write a letter of support which led to a discussion of whether PBC could do so under the Joint Venture Agreement. During the Pro Bono Council Task Force deliberations concerns were raised about the PBC competing for funds and whether PBC support of individual grants would create a perception of competition. Some groups were skittish about joining because of this potential conflict. Karen stated there could be projects upon which all the PBC members agree and in the case of the MVAP technology initiative that agreement is there and fits paragraph 2.5(c) of the Joint Venture Agreement. Candee Goodman stated that it was too early for the PBC to place a “stamp of approval” on projects and that we first needed to develop a working relationship and foundation of trust. The PBC decided to revisit the process of supporting specific projects in the future.
Candee then described the hotline project for Spanish speakers. Pam Wandzel at Fredrikson & Byron was contacted by CLUES about starting a clinic. The new Mexican Consulate is housed at CLUES and even though it isn’t set to open until September already legal requests are pouring in. Pam contacted Candee because of her experience with Neighborhood House, where they are now doing a mini hotline. Now the project has expanded to include Minnesota Hispanic Bar Association (MHBA), Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN), Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF), Volunteer Attorney Program (VAP) and the court’s self-help center. The groups are creating a hotline that will be accessible to the public on September 1, 2005. It will be open Monday through Friday, 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. Every Thursday attorneys will be available to meet with the public for advice and referral service. MJF has approximately 30-40 students who speak Spanish fluently and CLUES will provide office space and some staff assistance. VLN will train students on how to run the hotline. The hotline will cover all issues including family law.
Jean Lastine suggested that when they are ready to go beyond advice and referral that a model be followed like the program currently conducted by VLN, Central Minnesota Legal Services (CMLS), US Bank and Dorsey & Whitney at the Brian Coyle Center in Minneapolis. Candee replied that they are not ready yet and will not start out with cases. MHBA, however, does have about 100 lawyers willing to do some cases.
Mary Durand stated that Chrysalis offers bilingual clinics for women and would like to be involved in the hotline. Candee invited Mary to join the planning group for the hotline.
The hotline planners are working with VLN and VAP on a proposal to LSAC. VLN will act as the fiscal agent and the request will be for $75,000 to $100,000 for (1) staffing the pilot project and expanding it beyond advice and referral and (2) planning and evaluation of the hotline as a model for other underserved communities or eventually for a statewide hotline. The hotline initially will be staffed pretty much by volunteers but CLUES and Consulate will be helping out by providing staff as well.
Jean noted that even though the hotline will be in Ramsey County it will go beyond. CMLS, Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS) and Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance (MMLA) all have Spanish speakers on staff and raised a concern about having multiple hotlines.
Bruce Beneke introduced the third project on the agenda. By way of background, Bruce described SMRLS current efforts to pilot a hotline with a centralized intake for screening, advice and referral in 28 rural counties and has a lot of Spanish-speaking staff. Language access is a key issue. A lead attorney in the service area determines acceptance of cases and makes staff assignments. Gary Hird heads up this project. Bruce added that the Legal Services Commission recommended that the idea of one statewide entry point be studied. In a recent meeting he had with Jerry Lane and Jim Baillie and others about the distribution of the LSAC money he suggested a planning grant, but the Coalition and SMRLS would not apply for it, instead staffed programs, pro bono and the MSBA could work on it together, and MVAP would be the applicant. Bruce asked Gary Hird to put together a handout on the statewide hotline planning process and copies were distributed to the PBC. The proposed study would cost about $50,000 to $100,000.
Patty Murto stated that VAP has run a hotline in Northeast Minnesota, with one phone number for the region. It is not an 800 number, however, and in VAP’s grant to LSAC funds will be requested to set one up. Patty questioned the neutrality of MVAP and asked Bruce whether the Coalition would match dollar for dollar the money for a study from the new state funding it received. Jean stated that the Coalition would consider putting in money. Bruce stated that this is a point of tension and there was discussion of whether the law states that the 15 percent is exclusively the domain of non-LSC programs. It was determined by the PBC that the law does not explicitly state as much and there was a difference of view regarding legislative intent. Mary stated that it would be logical to split the funding obligation for a hotline study to mirror the LSAC funding distribution, with 85 percent coming from the Coalition and 15 percent from non-LSC programs.
It was determined that PBC members return to their groups to discuss this further. Candee observed that part of the problem that should be considered in a planning grant is there are a lot of things everybody is doing in their own world, there are mini hotlines all around. Karen stated that she still didn’t see the connection between the proposed hotline study and pro bono and that the PBC is not the body to decide the best delivery system but rather how best to support pro bono in being a better partner in the delivery system, using pro bono resources. Bruce stated that everyone is working toward the same thing and there are so many different ways into the system. The Legal Services Commission promoted equal access and increased access to the system. Patty and Karen stated that the hotline study proposal is a staff model and Bruce replied that it doesn’t have to be, the question is what is the best way to do it?
The next Pro Bono Council meeting will be September 30, 2005 at 12 noon at the MSBA.
- Last Updated 11/21/05-