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Legal Services Advisory Committee (LSAC)



The Legal Services Advisory Committee (LSAC) makes grants to legal services and alternative dispute resolution programs serving low-income clients.  

LSAC funds programs serving every county in Minnesota, with grantees annually providing service to nearly 50,000 low-income clients statewide. LSAC grant funding comes from several sources including:
  • funds appropriated by the legislature for civil legal services, governed by Minnesota Statutes 480.242;
  • a portion of the attorney registration fee dedicated to civil legal services;
  • IOLTA revenue; and
  • a statewide cy pres endowment dedicated to civil legal services.
The LSAC grant cycle for FY20-21 is now closed. The next grant application will be available in January 2021.

The FY20-21 LSAC grant cycle is now closed.  The next grant cycle begins in January 2021.

FY20-21 Grant Materials:

Effective July 1, 2008, attorneys can receive CLE credit for pro bono work.  The CLE for Pro Bono Rule is primarily administered by the Minnesota State Board of Continuing Legal Education.

Under the rule, only pro bono work done through an "approved legal services provider" is eligible for CLE credit.  The rule defines an "approved legal services provider" as:
  1. an organization funded by the Legal Services Corporation or the Minnesota Legal Services Advisory Committee (the CLE Board Website inlcudes links to lists of organizations that are eligible under this part of the rule), OR
  2. an organization designated by the Minnesota Legal Services Advisory Committee.  Eligibility for designation is limited to: (a) programs providing pro bono legal representation within 501(c)(3) organizations that have as their primary purpose the furnishing of legal services to persons with limited means; (b) law firms, law libraries or bar associations that conduct programs that have as their primary purpose the furnishing of legal services to persons with limited means and are under the supervision of a pro bono coordinator or designated lawyer; (c) law firms that provide pro bono legal services on behalf of a Minnesota Judicial Branch program, including but not limited to, the Guardian ad Litem Program.

If an organization is not an "approved legal services provider" under the first part of the rule but meets the criteria under the second part of the rule, an Application for Designation as Approved Legal Services Provider may be submitted to the Legal Services Advisory Committee.
 

The following organizations have submitted applications and been approved under Rule 2.B. as eligible for CLE credit for qualifying pro bono under the rule:

  • Dorsey & Whitney Low-Income Pro Bono Program - Effective 10/13/08
  • Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Low-Income Pro Bono Program - Effective 8/29/08
  • Faegre Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP Judicial Branch Pro Bono Program - Effective 8/29/08
  • Fredrikson & Byron Low-Income Pro Bono Program - Effective 8/25/08
  • Innocence Project of Minnesota - Effective 4/1/09
  • Deinard Legal Clinic (Affiliated with Stinson Leonard Street) - Effective 9/23/08
  • Ballard Spahr (formerly Lindquist & Vennum) Low-Income Pro Bono Program - Effective 10/1/08
  • Robins Kaplan Guardian ad Litem Pro Bono Program - Effective 2/18/09
  • Robins Kaplan Low-Income Pro Bono Program - Effective 8/12/09
  • Institute for Justice Low-Income Pro Bono Program - Effective 6/30/10
  • Cancer Legal Line - Effective 9/28/10
  • Federal Bar Association, Minnesota Chapter, Pro Se Project - Effective 9/22/10
  • Twin Cities Christian Legal Aid - Effective 8/23/11
  • Minnesota Assistance Council for Veterans Pro Bono Program - Effective 11/29/11
  • Anoka County Law Library - Effective 7/1/13
  • Carver County Law Library - Effective 7/1/13
  • Ramsey County Law Library - Effective 7/1/13
  • Scott County Law Library - Effective 7/1/13
  • Washington County Law Library - Effective 7/1/13
  • Minnesota State Law Library - Effective 7/1/13
  • Disability Rights Oregon - Effective 10/17/14
  • HOME Line - Effective 11/10/14
  • Legal Rights Center - Effective 11/25/14
  • Children's Law Center of Minnesota - Effective 7/1/16
  • Domestic Abuse Legal Advocacy Center - Effective 7/5/16
  • Minnesota State Law Library Appeals Clinic - Effective 7/19/16
  • Rocky Mountain Immigrant Advocacy Network - Effective 8/29/18
  • Casa Corneilia Law Center - Effective 8/29/18
  • Family Preservation Foundation - Effective 12/13/18

The Minnesota Supreme Court has set a vision of increased coordination across access to justice structures statewide to increase the number of people receiving legal assistance.  This work is supported by the Legal Services Advisory Committee staff and involves partnerships across many organizations, including civil legal aid and the private bar.

Justice for All Project

The Minnesota Judicial Branch received a Justice for All grant to create an important strategic plan that has been the basis for ongoing access to justice work since 2017.  Rather than have one standing commission, Minnesota has created working committees that are accountable for specific projects where the impact on the number of people receiving assistance can be measured. 

Triage Portal Advisory Committee: 
The Supreme Court created this committee to support projects related to the statewide triage website recommended in the Justice for All plan.  From 2018 - 2020, this committee supported the implementation of the new LawHelpMN.org website, creating data security protocols and an ongoing evaluation plan. The committee also ensured integration of the website with the newly created Minnesota Unbundled Law Project and statewide mediation through Community Mediation Minnesota, two of the goal projects in the strategic plan.

Committee for Equality and Justice:
The Minnesota Judicial Council has created a Civil Justice Subcommittee of the Committee for Equality and Justice.  Its charge is to increase the number of low-income and disadvantaged people receiving civil legal assistance and to reduce barriers to access in Minnesota state courts through collaborative projects of the Minnesota Judicial Branch and the Minnesota State Bar Association. The work plan is updated annually and currently includes:
 
  • Expanded housing court legal assistance projects across the state;
  • Increased pro bono service and recognition;
  • Education and outreach about civil legal aid notice required under new cy pres rule.

Civil Legal Aid Coordinated Infrastructure Project

The Minnesota Supreme Court directed LSAC to work on coordinated the intake and referral infrastructure planning across organizations to make it easier for low-income Minnesotans to access available legal services statewide.  In response, LSAC contracted with a national legal aid expert to review the current intake systems and report back to the committee with recommendations. Local legal aid experts then took those recommendations and created a strategic vision and implementation plan, which was approved by the Minnesota Supreme Court in January 2019.

Minnesota civil legal aid providers are national leaders in collaborating to create a more coordinated and client-friendly system.  In the coming years, we will have centralized phone and online intake, ensuring that there is no wrong door for low-income Minnesotans seeking legal assistance.  There will be coordinated marketing and outreach so that our community partners only have to know one referral point to access an array of staff and pro bono services.  This approach will maximize our ability to have data about client needs and to increase resources to invest in delivering on the promise of equal justice for all.

Implementation Projects:
LOON: The first success we have had is the launch of Legal Organizations Online Network (LOON), the backbone of the coordinated infrastructure system.  LOON is a database of information updated in real-time by more than 20 legal aid organizations.  This tool helps intake staff make better referrals of clients they are unable to serve to a provider who can or be confident saying “no” if services are not available. 

LawHelpMN: The website has been redesigned to be make it easier to find information and is on a new platform that allows for regular improvements based on user feedback.  It has two primary components:
 

  • LawHelpMN Guide - This guided interview is designed for people with legal problems and trusted intermediaries who often help families in crisis.  By answering a few questions, relevant legal information is presented to the user before asking if they would like to go further and see what additional services may be available. 
  • Provider and Clinic Directory - The website also includes a provider and clinic directory designed for users more familiar with the legal system, including pro bono attorneys making referrals at clinics, to quickly filter and find the best available resources for clients.

LegalServer Case Management System:  The Legal Services Advisory Committee (LSAC) is funding a transition to the LegalServer case management system for many of the civil legal aid programs statewide starting in 2019.  Being on the same case management system is critical to more efficient intake and referral processes across programs, as well as to share training and other infrastructure resources. 

1-800 Number Centralized Phone System:  The most complex portion of the strategic plan is the creation of a single point of entry for phone intake statewide.  Implementation details are being worked through, but the concept approved by the Supreme Court includes a well-publicized 1-800 number with calls sorted to coordinated intake hubs.  These hubs will be regionalized for core poverty law services. Callers will be screened for eligibility and transferred to a civil legal aid provider for service based on geography and case priorities.  We will have comprehensive statewide data about the requests for service and who is turned away in order to have a data-driven approach to meeting client needs.

Project Communication Handout (including timeline):
Strategic Vision for Access to Civil Legal Aid in Minnesota:  The Next Generation (pdf)

 

Legal Services Grant Program Manager
Send an email via our contact form

Minnesota Judicial Center (MJC)
25 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Blvd.
St. Paul, MN 55155