Donate to civil legal aid before year’s end

Earlier this year, the Minnesota Supreme Court approved Rule 25 regarding Uniform Reporting of Pro Bono Service and Financial Contributions. While we’ve given a lot of attention to the pro bono reporting requirement, we also want to highlight that the form will ask you to check a box if you have donated in the previous calendar year to “organizations that provide legal services to persons of limited means.” That means you have a little over three months left to decide how to support legal services in Minnesota in 2021.

MSBA member Jeff Sheridan, a 1987 graduate of Hamline University School of Law, practices criminal law at his firm, Sheridan & Dulas, in Eagan, MN. He chooses to financially support his local civil legal aid program, Legal Assistance of Dakota County.

Early in his career, Sheridan practiced family law and volunteered his time to help people with family law problems who could not afford an attorney. As his practice transitioned into criminal law, he realized that his clients’ cases were slowing down because of pro se civil cases eating up judicial time and resources. A poorly handled divorce can easily end up back in the courthouse eating up much more judicial resources than a well-handled divorce.

Sheridan knows that if Legal Assistance of Dakota County was handling more divorce cases in the county, his clients’ cases could move through the courthouse faster. He donates because he sees the value that civil legal aid gives to the entire judicial system, and he always encourages others to do the same.

For a full list of organizations that qualify under this rule, please visit our access to justice page (www.mnbar.org/ATJ) and click on the Learn More tab under Pro Bono Reporting Requirement to see a program FAQ. Donations can also be given to the Minnesota State Bar Foundation (www.mnbar.org/foundation), which funds those same legal services organizations.