Laura Cooper

Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid Donor


In 1975, the women’s caucus at the University of Minnesota Law School asked for a course in welfare law. Professor Laura Cooper was asked to teach the course—and to start a welfare law clinic. Lacking experience, she asked Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid (then the Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis) to allow her to serve as counsel and coach her through some cases. That was the beginning of a long relationship that has been invaluable to legal aid.

Cooper served on Legal Aid’s board of directors for 23 years, including a term as president. She is a founding member of the Fund for Legal Aid and was Legal Aid’s honoree at the 27th Annual Law Day Testimonial Dinner in 2008. She and her husband, Ben, are deliberate about their philanthropy, choosing organizations where they know the leadership, understand the strategy, and are familiar with the financial situation. In addition to traditional support as a Centennial Circle donor, Cooper has been sponsoring University of Minnesota Law students to work with Legal Aid as summer clerks since 2005.

“Legal Aid has always had inspiring, dedicated, talented lawyers who can efficiently make a difference,” says Cooper. “The organization strategically plans to do the most good on multiple fronts. As lawyers, we are in a wonderful position to recognize the good that lawyering can do, and how critical it is to improving lives of low-income people. Legal Aid is there all of the time, doing the work other lawyers care about but often can’t do themselves.”