Karla Krueger, supervising attorney in Legal Aid’s St. Cloud office, knows what it’s like to navigate complex systems without a law degree. She grew up in subsidized housing, receiving government benefits. She saw firsthand the frustrations that come with dealing with those systems and wanted to work in an area where she could make change and empower individuals to advocate for themselves.
Krueger specializes in senior law and has co-counseled and trained many younger lawyers over her 30 years at Legal Aid. One legal education evaluation states, “Karla’s ability to take complex information and make it understandable and interesting for a non-specialist was unmatched.” Krueger was awarded the Minnesota State Bar Association’s Bernard P. Becker Legal Services Staff Award in 2009. She continues to carry a full caseload with her supervisory and training responsibilities, dedicated to protecting the rights and ensuring the safety of her clients and their families.
AALM: What’s the best part of working at Legal Aid?
KK: Legal Aid is a good, family friendly employer. I’ve raised three kids, working part-time when my kids were little and full-time when they left home. My colleagues are amazing people, so dedicated and hardworking. I enjoy working in central Minnesota, where I have the opportunity to travel to different courthouses and interact with many different judges.
AALM: What do you like in particular about working with seniors?
KK: It’s interesting to work with people who have a lot of life experience. Having lived for so many years, they know what is really important. I’m also impressed by my clients’ courage and perseverance. Many of them have experienced significant health problems or live on very little income, yet they keep going, doing whatever they have to do, and are grateful for any help you can give them. That’s really inspiring to me.
AALM: Do you have any advice for younger women lawyers?
KK: When I started practicing law, it was still an old boys’ network. Elizabeth Hayden, the first female judge in Stearns County, really had an influence on me. Every year, she hosted a party for the female attorneys in the community. Her parties were fun, but more importantly, they helped us create relationships. Judge Hayden understood the importance of supporting and uplifting each other. Things have changed over the years, but I still think if you don’t like how things are being handled, you should be prepared to lead and make things the way you want them to be. You can create an environment for all lawyers, male and female, to want to do good and have ours be an honorable profession.
AALM: What was your most interesting case?
KK: I’ve had interesting cases along the way, but honestly, I’m most proud that my clients know I’m here to help them if they have problems. One client had my card on her nightstand for 10 years. That kind of longevity has allowed me to support people at different stages in their lives, help them with one problem now, and a different one down the road.
AALM: When you look back on your career, what stands out?
KK: I’ve had amazing people to work with, including the mentors and colleagues who have made this journey what it is. I’ve had incredible support from the Legal Aid community. They inspire me to do the best job I can because they’re all doing the same.