From the MSBA President: Donate to the Minnesota State Bar Foundation by January 31, 2022 and Help the MSBA Secure a $25,000 Match for Legal Services Organization Funding

Dear MSBA Colleague:
You might recall that in October, my Bench & Bar column focused on pro bono service as part of a diversified approach to bridging the gap on access to justice.  I write to you now about another prong of that diversified approach: increasing funding for legal services organizations. 

From now until January 31, 2022, donations to the Minnesota State Bar Foundation (MSBF) will be used to provide funding for legal services organizations and will be matched up to $25,000 from MSBF reserves! Past and future bar presidents have joined me in already pledging about 30% of this amount to kick off the campaign. Will you join us and donate today also?

One of the priority areas in the MSBA’s current strategic plan is to eliminate barriers for the public to obtain necessary legal resources, including representation.  To address this priority, among other things, the MSBA committed to facilitate collaborative problem-solving with our strategic partners.  I am pleased to tell you the MSBA has taken great steps towards this strategic objective by partnering with the MSBF to increase access to justice funding during the 2021-22 grant cycle.

With the roll out of the new Uniform Pro Bono Reporting requirements, we have a unique and exciting opportunity to help narrow the access to justice gap in Minnesota by encouraging new and increased giving to legal services organizations from MSBA members.  As you may know, the new Uniform Pro Bono Reporting requirements go into effect in January 2022 and require attorneys, starting April 1, 2022, to report using a checkbox if they have donated to programs that provide legal services to people of limited means. With this backdrop, last Friday, the MSBF voted to approve a MSBA proposal whereby the MSBA would begin a campaign to raise $25,000 from its membership, to be matched by $25,000 from MSBF reserves. In addition, the MSBF approved the MSBA’s request for a one-time release of an additional $75,000 from MSBF reserves for legal services funding. These funds will provide a much-needed boost to legal services organizations this upcoming grant cycle.  Funds raised through this match campaign will go directly to legal services programs to help low-income Minnesotans with critical legal needs such as housing, family matters, and immigration issues. 

If you have already given directly to a legal service organization this year or plan to do so, thank you! We welcome anything more you can do to aid our matching grant effort.  If you’ve never donated before, now is the perfect time to do so!  

If you donate by December 31, 2021, you will be able to “check the box” on the lawyer registration form with the new reporting requirements that you complete in 2022.  And if you donate in January 2022, you will be able to “check the box” again when you complete your registration in 2023.

I hope to report on February 1 that our members gave $25,000 to this effort, with every penny matched. A total of $50,000 for access to justice funding would be so meaningful.  This would be combined with the extra $75,000 the MSBF is contributing from its reserves to legal services, for a grand total of $125,000. Our collective efforts can change lives for the better! 

If you have any questions, please reach out to bar staff Nancy Mischel

Thank you for considering this request.  DONATE NOW.


Jennifer A. Thompson
President, 2021-2022 
Minnesota State Bar Association