President's Page: Promoting Access to Justice

Attending the Bar Benefit event this year reminded me of the importance of charitable giving during these difficult times. A segment of our profession has been financially affected by the pandemic. However, the overall population and the less fortunate have undeniably been affected more. The need for free legal services has increased due to the inherited issues caused by the pandemic.

Participating in the Hennepin County Bar Foundation (HCBF) Bar Benefit was so wonderful because the proceeds benefit so many legal nonprofits across Hennepin County. It also was a great opportunity to mingle virtually with so many colleagues that I have not seen in months. The HCBF has a very important mission: promoting access to justice for the people of Hennepin County. The HCBF is the charitable arm of the HCBA and an important part of our overall mission.

I encourage all members to support the HCBF and there are several ways to do that. Members can donate, become involved in HCBF leadership (as a board member or on the leadership track), attend events, sponsor events, and/or become an HCBF Fellow. The Fellows program started three years ago and has become one of the most successful programs to support the foundation. The Fellows are licensed attorneys who have been admitted to a bar for at least five years and have shown strong commitment to increasing access to justice in Hennepin County. Becoming a Fellow is an honor and a recognition within the profession (only 1% of HCBA members are nominated each year). Fellows are an esteemed group of local attorneys who are recognized by their peers for dedication and commitment for increasing access to justice. Fellows are asked to make a financial contribution over a period of five years. This commitment increases the ties between the Fellows and the Foundation and therefore has a longer and stronger impact in the community. The HCBF Fellows program is also a unique way to build your professional network because Fellows are invited to exclusive events, such as the Bar Benefit’s pre-reception and Fellows breakfast, among others. Networking with likeminded people allows you to have common ground and helps create lasting relationships and friendships.

Each year, the HCBF gives grants to local nonprofits that work to provide legal access and support to those in need. Last year, the HCBF gave out 25 grants to different nonprofits, including Volunteers Lawyers Network, The Advocates for Human Rights, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, Cancer Legal Care, Children’s Law Center of Minnesota, Minnesota Elder Justice Center, Minnesota Justice Foundation, Minnesota Wills for Heroes, Discapacitados Abriendose Caminos, Division of Indian Work, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Tubman, and JustUs Health. As you can see from the listed nonprofits, the HCBF supports a wide array of legal causes and different segments of the population of those in need. Please go to www.mnbar.org/hcbf for more information on how you can support the HCBF’s important work.

I hope you all are able to contribute to the HCBF to provide legal access and support to those in need to make this a better and more fair society. We should always remember that we are very fortunate to be lawyers and that we have the responsibility to give back to the less fortunate. I also hope we can see each other at the next Bar Benefit and other HCBF events in person when it is safe to do so.

Esteban A. Riveraesteban (1)
2020-2021 HCBA President
esteban@riveralawllc.com

Esteban A. Rivera is an attorney licensed in Minnesota and Ecuador. He practices mainly immigration and international law with emphasis
in Latin America. He practices investment, employment, and family-based immigration law, as well as removal defense. He is very active in the local legal community and the local bar associations.