Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF) creates opportunities for law students to engage in public interest and pro bono legal service. MJF provides law students with access to professional experience and training while increasing the capacity of legal service organizations that serve the public interest. By strengthening law students’ commitment to public interest and pro bono legal service, MJF builds a culture of service that students carry forward in their legal careers.
Impact and Programs
The Law School Public Service Program (LSPSP) is a collaborative effort of MJF, the Minnesota law schools, the Minnesota State Bar Association (MSBA), and legal service providers throughout Minnesota, to promote an ethic of public service in Minnesota law students and to increase access to justice for all Minnesotans. MJF matches interested law students with volunteer opportunities in the Twin Cities metro area and in Greater Minnesota. Volunteer opportunities are available with varying time commitments, in a variety of legal subject areas. Students may also create their own volunteer placements at organizations within or beyond Minnesota, provided their volunteer work is: 1) law-related in subject matter; 2) public service or public interest-related; 3) unpaid;
and 4) not for academic credit. Volunteering through MJF introduces students to the real practice of law and gives them valuable experience and knowledge that helps them to become better lawyers. Volunteering also introduces students to practitioners in their fields of interest who can provide references, advice, and career guidance. In FY 2020-2021, for the Law School Public Service Program (LSPSP), MJF made 600 volunteer placements with 70 organizational partners. These law student volunteers logged 17,000 volunteer hours, assisting 4,000 clients. Through the Street Law program, MJF worked with 5 schools in the fall on a pilot project providing information about voting. In the spring, MJF worked with 10 schools on delivering our semester-long engagement through which teams of law student volunteers develop engaging lessons on legal topics. Through the Summer Fellowship Program, MJF coordinated 19 paid summer fellowships at organizations across Minnesota.
During our 2021-2022 year, MJF’s goal for the Law School Public Service program will be to grow the number of pro bono opportunities for students and bring our engagement closer to pre-pandemic levels. Here are some examples of our ongoing efforts: continue to work with legal services providers to identify ways for students to support their program staff and volunteer attorneys (helping at clinics, case-specific research, intake, outreach, supervised representation, etc.); continue to work with firms and lawyers who are performing pro bono service and who are interested in having law students assist them to identify opportunities; continue to recruit and support law student volunteers and offer a variety of opportunities (remote, in-person, synchronous, asynchronous, etc.). For the Street Law program, our goal is to increase the number of participating classrooms closer to pre-pandemic levels and continue to improve the training and support we provide to Street Law volunteers. For the Summer Fellowship program, our goal is to assess areas for improvement in our processes to improve the experience for student applicants and host organization applicants.
Community or Constituency Served
MJF SERVES LAW STUDENTS WHO ENGAGE IN PRO BONO AND PUBLIC INTEREST WORK THAT CONTRIBUTES TO INCREASED ACCESS TO JUSTICE FOR MINNESOTANS
Geographic Area Served
State of Minnesota