Briggs and Morgan is committed to providing legal services to low-income individuals, nonprofit and community organizations, and public interest causes. Our pro bono services range from direct legal work for the indigent to extensive assistance to the courts. The firm’s diverse provision of services aims to meet what we consider to be our highest professional obligation and we strongly encourage our attorneys to contribute at least 50 hours of pro bono services each year as aspired in the Minnesota Rules of Professional Conduct and the firm’s policy. 100 Briggs and Morgan attorneys provided meaningful pro bono representation in 2013.
The firm’s pro bono program, which is managed by a designated committee and led by shareholder Jim Long, who serves as the program’s coordinator, has received numerous accolades. Last year, Briggs and Morgan attorneys volunteered more than 6,000 hours of their time to various agencies and programs which serve the disadvantaged, including:
The Advocates for Human Rights
Central Minnesota Regional Legal Services
Children’s Law Center of Minnesota
Federal Bar Association Pro Se Project
Habitat for Humanity
Hennepin County Court Pro Bono Mediation Project
Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Management Assistance Program for Nonprofits
Mid-Minnesota Legal Assistance (MMLA)
Minneapolis Legal Aid Society
Minnesota Disability Law Center
Minnesota Guardian Ad Litem Program
Minnesota Justice Foundation
MSBA Pro Bono Roundtable
MSBA Public Defender Appeal Pilot Program
Ramsey County Mental Health Court
Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS)
Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN)
Pro Bono Work for the Indigent Dedicated to equal access to justice, Briggs and Morgan attorneys provide a wide range of direct legal services to the indigent. A sample of these services are:
Personal Care Assistance Project – Minnesota Disability Law Center Minnesota law provides that persons who are disabled or who are seniors are entitled to state funded personal care assistance (PCA). In 2010, the state changed the qualification criteria, which has resulted in reassessments and notices of reduced service. In cooperation with the Minnesota Disability Law Center, our attorneys represent individuals in PCA benefits appeals to the Department of Health and Human Resources.
Order For Protection (OFP) Cases The state of Minnesota provides for ex parte orders for protection protecting victims of domestic abuse, with a statutorily required hearing within seven days of issuance. In assistance with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services (SMRLS), a number of Briggs and Morgan attorneys represent parties seeking protection in contested OFP hearings.
Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) LAP and Housing Court Clinics The VLN Legal Access Point (LAP) and Housing Court clinics in Hennepin County Court provide a number of individuals with direct, quick legal advice on a range of issues. Briggs and Morgan attorneys volunteer at three VLN LAP Clinics each month and one VLN Housing Court Clinic per month.
Naturalization Cases Briggs works with attorneys at the Mayo Clinic in Rochester on naturalization hearings for indigent individuals in a program that originated with SMRLS. Briggs attorneys prepare clients for naturalization interviews and attend the interviews with the client. Briggs has handled 80 plus cases over the past four years.
Pro Bono Services to Non-Profits/Business Briggs and Morgan attorneys provide pro bono legal services to nonprofit organizations that play a vital role in the provision of charitable activities. For example, we are extremely proud of our long-time relationship with Minnesota Habitat for Humanity, providing a wide range of pro bono services to this organization.
Our attorneys also volunteer once a month at the LegalCORPS St. Louis Park Advice Clinic and once a quarter at the LegalCORPS Minneapolis Library Clinic.
Pro Bono Assistance to the Courts In direct response to the extensive budget pressure and incurred strain on our court system, Briggs and Morgan provides a great deal of pro bono assistance to the courts, including:
Hennepin County Pro Bono Mediation Through this program, Briggs and Morgan attorneys mediate In Forma Pauperis (IFP) cases from Hennepin County District Court and appeals from Conciliation Court. Briggs and Morgan’s attorneys, all qualified Rule 14 neutrals, mediate two to four cases a month. We have mediated more than 70 cases since the project started in 2010.
Hennepin County Public Defender Appellate Program Jonathan Schmidt created a program with the Minnesota State Bar Appellate Section pursuant to which attorneys handle criminal appeals (including oral arguments at the Minnesota Court of Appeals) for the State Public Defender. He is assisted by retired Supreme Court Judge, shareholder Sam Hanson.
Ramsey County Mental Health Court The Ramsey County Mental Health Court is a diversionary court program for criminal defendants with diagnosed mental illness. Our attorneys provide representation to Mental Health Court participants at court sessions, which take place twice a month.
For more information about our pro bono services, please contact the firm’s pro bono coordinator, Jim Long via e-mail.