None of us must look far to see the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our communities. Housing, family safety and financial security are at risk for many Minnesotans. Legal services organizations have been working hard to try to meet the increased need for legal assistance. There has never been enough services or enough lawyers for low-income Minnesotans, but the situation has gotten worse. Pro bono involvement during the pandemic plummeted as attorneys experienced similar stresses as the rest of the community. It is time to reverse that trend.
As the eviction moratorium off-ramp proceeds, legal services organizations will have a flood of new eligible clients in need of services. Lawyers are needed across the state to advise and represent clients in housing matters, as well as other practice areas where organizations are stretched thin while covering increased housing demands. Representation makes the system work better, empowers clients, and leads to far better outcomes for vulnerable populations. This makes our communities more stable, safe, and equitable.
Lawyers have the skills to make a difference. Lawyers possess a precious and limited resource – a legal education and law license. While some attorneys report a reluctance to engage in pro bono work because of unfamiliarity with the practice area, that should not be a barrier. Legal services organizations train and support their volunteers.
The Lawyer’s Step Up website was created to make it easy to find an opportunity for lawyers to make a difference.