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Pro Bono Week shows need amid low income

Studies say that nearly 80 percent of the basic legal needs of poor people still remain unmet.

It is with this in mind that Minnesota’s legal community greets National Pro Bono week, Oct. 20-26.

The celebration of Pro Bono Week honors the work of Minnesota lawyers who provide pro bono representation throughout the year, and highlights opportunities for pro bono service to low-income and vulnerable clients in civil legal matters.

There are numerous events scheduled throughout the state during the week. A calendar is available here.

As a focal point for Pro Bono Week, on Oct. 22, the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA) will present “Integrating Pro Bono,” a continuing legal education program featuring remarks by the Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Lorie S. Gildea and three sessions on pro bono practice.

Panelists will discuss the benefits of integrating pro bono work into law practice, explore how technology is being used to connect pro bono clients with lawyers, and review a ground-breaking collaboration between a Twin Cities community organization and law firms to serve diverse clients.

Earlier this year, the MSBA announced a new program, North Star Lawyers, to recognize the work of members who provide 50 hours or more of pro bono work per year. The response by MSBA members was overwhelming.

Over 740 members certified that they met the standard, collectively providing over 87,000 hours of service in 2012 with an estimated value of $17,000,000 in free legal assistance to low income clients.

Low income Minnesotans who need help solving civil legal matters can find information and referrals at This site is maintained by the Minnesota Legal Services State Support Center.