Access to Justice

The MSBA advocates for access to the justice system for all Minnesotans, regardless of income level.

Pro Bono & Public Service

The MSBA is committed to eliminating barriers to access for low-income Minnesotans by connecting members with opportunities to partner with legal services in representing clients. Through presentations, trainings, recognition and articles, the MSBA promotes the value and importance of pro bono work, as expressed in Rule 6.1 of the Rules of Professional Conduct. 

Pro Bono Reporting Requirement

Beginning January 1, 2022, the Minnesota Office of Lawyer Registration will collect information from lawyers regarding their fulfillment of the aspirational goals for pro bono service in Rule 6.1.
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North Star Lawyers

The Minnesota State Bar Association is proud to recognize members who provide 50 hours or more of pro bono legal services per year as North Star Lawyers. By generously donating their time and talent, they change lives. They help people, who otherwise could not afford counsel, achieve justice. Nearly 750 members were certified as North Star Lawyers in 2023 and received public recognition from the MSBA.
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The MSBA supports, a collaboration with Legal Services State Support and Pro Bono Net designed to provide a central online resource for pro bono lawyers. This resource provides access to an extensive library of forms and practice materials, news items, an events calendar, and a directory of pro bono opportunities. Membership to the website is free for pro bono lawyers, legal services staff and law students. 
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Access to Justice Policy

The MSBA helps develop statewide policies to provide more comprehensive legal assistance for Minnesota's low-income clients and generate resources for programs that serve those individuals. In addition, the MSBA works to increase access to lower cost legal services, such as unbundled/limited scope and sliding fee.

Civil Legal Services Funding

  • Dealing with legal issues effectively can mean the difference between a downward spiral into deeper poverty and a pathway to a better life. Legal Aid Delivers
  • Funding for civil legal services in Minnesota fails to ensure justice for all. Civil Legal Aid in Minnesota 2017 (infographic)
  • The MSBA supports funding for civil legal services at the Minnesota Legislature. 
  • The MSBA supports funding for the federal Legal Services Corporation. Learn more. 
  • Bank on Justice: The MSBA encourages attorneys to bank at banks that pay a higher interest rate on IOLTA accounts. Interest on IOLTA accounts is used to fund civil legal service providers. Learn more.

Civil Right to Counsel

Access to Justice - Assessing Implementation of Civil Gideon in Minnesota contains detailed information about low income people's needs for representation in matters involving basic human needs, the impacts when counsel is not available, and recommendations for addressing the justice gap. This 2011 report still holds timely and relevant direction for access to justice work today.

A legislative proposal to establish a civil right to counsel for tenants  in public housing breach of lease cases is pending. 

Cy Pres

The MSBA supports the cy pres doctrine to award residual class action funds to programs that provide free legal services to people who are struggling to make ends meet. Cy Pres Manual

The MSBA successfully petitioned for amendment of Minn. R. Civ. P. 23.05 to prioritize notice to civil legal services programs of the distribution of residual funds.