Lockridge Grindal Nauen attorneys, paralegals, and staff dedicate hundreds of hours per year toward pro bono legal representation and volunteer activities coordinated by a committee of partners and associates. LGN attorneys have been recognized as MSBA North Star Lawyers (for providing at least 50 hours of pro bono legal services) since the North Star Lawyer program began in 2013.
Many of LGN’s attorneys are members of the Volunteer Lawyers’ Network and have taken cases through the Minnesota Federal Bar Association’s Pro Se Project referral program. Others have helped disadvantaged businesses and non-profit organizations with corporate formation and other legal matters. Still, others have worked on guardian ad litem cases or represented children in the foster care system, veterans’ benefits appeals, environmental matters and, in cooperation with Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, have secured legal residency for asylum seekers who feared harm or persecution in their home countries of China, Rwanda and Tibet. Many LGN attorneys also provide free legal assistance at walk-in clinics around the Twin Cities, or assist indigent criminal defendants in their appeals through work with the Minnesota Appellate Public Defender’s office.
Some of the organizations LGN attorneys have done pro bono work over the years include:
- Children’s Law Center of Minnesota
- The Advocates for Human Rights
- The Dignity Center, serving individuals transitioning from homelessness
- Twin Cities Cardozo Society’s Minneapolis Urban League Legal Aid Clinic
- Twin Cities Cardozo Society’s St. Paul Legal Aid Clinic, in partnership with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Aid Services and Interfaith Action
- Minnesota State Bar Association’s Public Defender Appellate Pro Bono Project
- Federal Bar Association Minnesota Chapter Pro Se Project.
- Volunteer Lawyer’s Network’s criminal expungement program.
Pro Bono Cases
Many LGN attorneys have represented numerous individuals and families seeking asylum, including:
- After two and a half years of work, a team of LGN attorneys and paralegals won Permanent Residency for a Rwandan client who was orphaned as a child and fled to the United States to avoid violence in her native country. The team won a unique immigration status for the client called Special Immigrant Juvenile Status, which is granted to only 1,200 orphaned child-immigrants each year. The team successfully argued that the client met the criteria for Special Immigrant Juvenile Status on the basis that she was an orphan and a Minnesota court placed her under the guardianship of a Minnesota relative prior to her becoming 18 years old. LGN volunteered over 450 hours to achieve this victory for the client after the case was referred to LGN by the Advocates for Human Rights.
- LGN attorney Brian Clark won permanent resident status for a 10-year old girl from Liberia. The girl qualified for a unique status available to immigrant children whose parents are unable to care for them.
- After eight years of working with a family from Nepal that feared persecution on account of their Tibetan nationality, LGN attorneys, with the assistance of LGN paralegal Heather Potteiger and administrative assistant Cheryl Evans, obtained citizenship in 2016 for a family of four. The LGN team first obtained asylum for the entire family, then helped the family obtain permanent residency status and, ultimately, citizenship.
- LGN attorneys have represented numerous individuals and families from other countries, including China, Rwanda, Eritrea, Turkey and Tibet, who have sought asylum in the United States on religious or political grounds.
LGN attorneys participate in the MSBA Appellate Section’s Pro Bono Project with the Appellate Public Defender. Through the program, LGN has represented several criminal defendants in appealing to the Court of Appeals, and petitioning for review and representation in front of the Minnesota Supreme Court. The work helps ensure that each person convicted of a crime in Minnesota is able to fully exercise their right to have their conviction reviewed by an appellate body and to exercise all constitutional rights afforded when a person is accused of a crime.
LGN attorneys succeeded in obtaining survivor benefits from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs (“VA”) for a pro bono client. A mistake on the veteran’s death certificate resulted in denial of survivor benefits for the veteran’s spouse. As a result, LGN filed litigation in the state where the veteran died to correct the mistake on the death certificate and subsequently assisted the widower in obtaining approval of his application by the VA. The case was initially referred to LGN by the Minnesota Federal Bar Association’s Pro Se Project.
Several LGN attorneys have represented children through guardian ad litem cases, or foster children and children who are wards of the state, in cooperation with the Children’s Law Center. LGN received the Children’s Law Center’s 2011 Distinguished Service Award for its work representing foster children and children who are wards of the state.
LGN attorneys successfully defended an elderly Dallas-area man accused of defaulting on an agreement to repay a loan that funded a so-called “life settlement” insurance policy. The plaintiff filed several similar lawsuits against senior citizens in federal court in Minnesota. LGN invested more than 500 hours in the case, initially referred to LGN by the Minnesota Federal Bar Association’s Pro Se Project. After LGN’s attorneys overcame the plaintiff’s motion for summary judgment, the parties negotiated a settlement of the case.
LGN Attorneys successfully represented a civilly committed client in his § 1983 claim against the Minnesota Department of Corrections. After the Eighth Circuit reversed the dismissal of his claim against a dentist for the Minnesota Department of Corrections, the Federal Bar Association’s Pro Se Project referred his case to LGN. Arguing that the Department of Corrections acted with deliberate indifference to his dental needs, LGN attorneys Stephen Owen and Charlie Nauen negotiated and obtained a favorable settlement.
For more information on LGN’s pro bono work, contact Kristen G. Marttila, chair of the pro bono committee.