Promote the Public Good

Pro Bono Development

The MSBA is committed to closing the justice gap for low income Minnesotans by connecting members with opportunities to serve legal services 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. The MSBA also supports in collaboration with the Legal Services State Support Center and Pro Bono Net.  Designed to provide a central online resource for pro bono lawyers, ProJusticeMN provides access to an extensive library of forms and practice materials, news items, an events calendar, a directory of pro bono and legal service providers, and postings of new pro bono opportunities.  

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North Star Lawyer

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. Lawyers who serve the poor without charge should be celebrated. By generously donating their time and talent, they change lives. They help people who otherwise could not afford counsel achieve justice. The Minnesota State Bar Association is tremendously proud of our members who render free legal services to low-income persons. In 2014, over 950 members have been certified as North Star Lawyers, and received public recognition through statewide media.

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Access to Justice

The MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged (LAD) Committee encourages lawyers to participate in local volunteer attorney programs and to support statewide programs providing civil legal assistance to people who would otherwise be unable to afford it. The Committee initiated a statewide CLE campaign on the subject of a civil right to counsel for cases involving basic needs, building off of the 2011 MSBA Civil Gideon Task Force Report. The Civil Right to Counsel Subcommittee is developing a legislative policy proposal to expand that right in Minnesota. The LAD Committee also works with judges from around the state to engage the bench in current issues affecting the disadvantaged. 

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Minnesota State Bar Foundation

The Minnesota State Bar Foundation provides grants to law-related programs and activities.  Its mission includes support for legal assistance to the disadvantaged, improvements in the administration of justice, law-related education, and public interest legal work. The Bar Foundation is organized as a nonprofit corporation, and its board of directors is selected by the MSBA Assembly. MSBA members are strongly encouraged to provide donations to the Foundation. To download a grant application or donate to the Foundation, visit Donations may be made directly to the Minnesota State Bar Foundation or through a check-off on the annual MSBA dues statement. Donations to the Foundation are tax-deductible.

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Mock Trial

For the past 30 years, the MSBA has coordinated this popular public education program that gives high school students from more than 80 schools (126 teams) across Minnesota an inside look at our legal system. Students work with their teachers and attorney coaches to prepare and argue simulated cases involving contemporary legal issues. More than 600 lawyers and judges volunteer each year to be a part of this experience by serving as coaches or as judges for the competition throughout Minnesota. Some of the lawyers who volunteer to coach teams or judge mock trials today began their mock trial involvement as high school students.

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MSBA member Susan Link discusses the origin of the Wills for Heroes program, nationally and in Minnesota.