Why Many Young Attorneys Are Choosing Legal Aid

By Pollen | MinnPost.com, July 2, 2013 | Go to article overview

Why Many Young Attorneys Are Choosing Legal Aid


Pollen, MinnPost.com


This statistic would resonate with Loesch, who attended law school specifically with Legal Aid on the mind.

Luke Grundman, a 29-year-old attorney working in the Minneapolis office of Legal Aid, echoed Abbey's sentiment. He tried a few other civic organizations and volunteered his legal expertise at a few other places but kept coming back to Legal Aid as the place he wanted to work.

"What drew me to it was the idea that I am doing something for my client that only a lawyer can do," Grundman said. "When you close a client's file, you know that you actually accomplished something real. Something concrete."

An internship with Judge Donovan Frank in St. Paul brought Legal Aid to Grundman's attention. Donovan had an "immense respect for legal services," he said, "And as soon as I started working there, I got hooked."

Like Loesch, even before attending law school, Sarah Bronson knew she wanted to work for legal services. "If I was going to go through school and get a law degree, I knew I wanted to use it to help people," she said. "That was very important to me." After graduating from the University of Minnesota Law School, Bronson joined Mid- Minnesota Legal Aid in 2009, assisting clients with tax issues.

Grundman, Bronson, and Loesch

Loesch, Grundman and Bronson entered legal services in a difficult economy. Due to funding cuts, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid is struggling to meet the needs of clients. With 805,000 of Minnesotans living on incomes at or below 125 percent of poverty (for a family of four, that equates to a household income of $29,438 or less), and the number of people in poverty increasing every year, there is a growing gap between the need for legal services and funding for it. Demand for legal services has increased so steadily in the past five years that Legal Aid is able to help only one of every three who apply. From 2008 to 2010, the number of Minnesotans in poverty and eligible for civil legal services (CLS) increased by 20.6 percent. During the same period, CLS financial resources decreased by 16 percent.

Still, these numbers do not deter young attorneys like Grundman, Bronson and Loesch, who say they focus on meeting the needs of their clients, one case at a time.

"As our resources have decreased, our staff's commitment to advocate for our clients has remained strong," says Cathy Haukedhal, Executive director of Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid. "Our lawyers are as committed as ever to justice for all, and the work they do makes a real difference in the lives of our clients. …

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