Profiles in Practice: Dee Baskin


As the executive director of the Loan Repayment Assistance Program (LRAP) of Minnesota, Dee Baskin is helping attorneys address one of the nation’s most highly contested topic this year: student loan forgiveness.

Baskin is using both her legal education and background to educate and assist legal aid attorneys in combating their student loans. Baskin joined the organization as the ED in 2020 just as the world was experiencing the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dee-Baskin-1Since the beginning of this year when President Joe Biden announced his new debt relief program, more and more people across the state have reached out to LRAP to learn more about student loan forgiveness. “All of these changes happening at the federal level are directly impacting the people that we are working with… so, we have been working together to do presentations about Public Service Loan Forgiveness and everything that has been going on right now, we just did a presentation for the Minnesota Counsel of Nonprofits. It’s not just for attorneys now.”

Baskin sees the positive impact her work has for others and herself. “It benefits me when people in my community can afford to live, can afford to work the jobs that they love, and that they're good at. And they don't have to worry about the pay so much. They can support their families. They can take a vacation sometime. They can save for retirement, like all of that. But it's about when people around me are happy, and healthy, that benefits me.”

 “It benefits me when people in my community can afford to live, can afford to work the jobs that they love, and that they're good at."

LRAP is a 501(3) organization that was founded in 1991 by a collaboration between law school students in Minnesota, the Minnesota Justice Foundation, and the Minnesota State Bar Association. Every year, the non-profit opens applications to legal aid attorneys to apply for its services and selects fifty lawyers to work with during the fiscal year. LRAP’s mission “is to help reduce the education debt burden experienced by dedicated public interest lawyers who represent low-income clients seeking legal services to secure essential needs like food, shelter and safety, and fundamental rights like equal access to justice.”

Baskin is a transplant to Minnesota. She was born and raised in South Bend, IndianaHeadshot and was interested in attending a LGBTQ-friendly law school. She decided on the University of Minnesota after she received an email from then Assistant Dean of Students Erin Keyes who shared her positive experiences being a queer law student and finding a community on the campus. During law school, Baskin explored different areas of law, but she always had a passion for public service

“I knew that I wanted to do public service. I was always just the person who volunteered for things. And even before I came to law school, I did an AmeriCorps Vista program.” Now in her current position, Baskin says “I'm doing exactly what I probably thought I would be doing. Not necessarily [being an] executive director but working in public service. That's the stuff that gets me excited every day.”

Although Baskin is not actively practicing the law in court, she is still able to enjoy seeing people gain access to justice through the attorneys she works with. “Even though I’m not the named attorney on a case. I’m doing stuff behind the scenes to support those attorneys." Baskin shares, “It's just amazing when there's a victory in a case for a low-income client. To see someone really get justice is just absolutely amazing for me. Now, I basically live vicariously through the attorneys that we serve.” So, when attorneys share success stories to Baskin, for example a tenant wins a case against a landlord for not providing heat in a building, she tells her legal aid lawyers, “Yes, this is what I do. I want to support you doing this work that you love.”

Dee-Baskin-3“It's amazing to see the result of the work that people are doing. Attorneys are so powerful and amazing. The job itself, of course, is stressful and a lot of work. But they're just making miracles every day. I'm so glad to be like part of this profession to see that sort of thing because I think if you're not an attorney, you don't really understand.”

On a final note, Baskin shares what wisdom she wished her younger self knew back when she graduated from law school - that everything was going to be ok. “Whatever path I chose, it was going to work out.”

By Nu Vang

Vang-1Nu Vang is a 2021 graduate of Mitchell Hamline School of Law where she completed two certificates for Health Law and Health Care Compliance through the school's nationally ranked Health Law Institute. She is currently a judicial law clerk for the Honorable Chief Judge Toddrick S. Barnette with the Fourth Judicial District in Hennepin County within Minneapolis, MN. 


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