Central Minnesota Legal Services provides free attorneys to qualifying individuals sticky icon

Central Minnesota Legal Services provides civil legal services to low-income persons in 21 counties in Central Minnesota. Its mission is "to advocate for access to the civil justice system for low income people by providing high quality legal services and to improve the lives of people living in poverty by empowering self-advocacy skills through legal education." Clients receive legal services at no cost, unless there are court fees that cannot be waived. CMLS helps eligible clients through direct representation, brief advice, and through participating in community legal education programs.

CMLS provides assistance in issues involving:
Family Law
Government Benefits
Consumer Law
Employment Law

Free Criminal Expungement Clinic

Beginning September 15th, Central Minnesota Legal Services and the Volunteer Lawyers Network will offer a free legal clinic for expungement of criminal records.

Expungement is the process of going to court to ask a judge to seal a court record.  People request an expungement when they have been denied a job, housing, or a professional license because of a criminal incident that shows up on a background check.

A new law goes into effect January 1, 2015 that may allow judges to seal records held by the BCA (Bureau of Criminal Apprehension) and other executive branch agencies.  It may be helpful to speak with an attorney to determine a person’s eligibility for expungement under the new law.

What's New: Resources by County

Many counties have multiple resources that are available to those needing legal help. The resources available may vary from county to county.  In an effort to inform the public of the resources available, a set of brochures were created for twenty counties in Minnesota where CMLS also provides services.
Information is available for the following counties: Anoka, Benton, Big Stone, Chippewa, Chisago, Isanti, Kandiyohi, Lac Qui Parle, Lincoln, Lyon, Meeker, Mille Lacs, Morrison, Renville, Sherburne, Stearns, Swift, Todd, Wright, and Yellow Medicine.
To view the available resources, please click here:

Special thanks to first year law students at William Mitchell College of Law,and supervisor Diane Dube, for their assistance with this project.

2010 Direct Contributors

Central Minnesota Legal Services would like to express our thank you and appreciation to the following direct contributors of 2010:
Central Minnesota Community Foundation Women on Stage Event
Hanson & Efron
Leonard Street & Deinard Foundation
Minnesota Justice Foundation
Minnesota State Bar Association
Ninth District Bar Association
Eighteenth District Bar Association
Mr. Walter Burk
Ms. Martha Delaney
Mr. Joseph Dixon
Ms. Marie Failinger
Judge Charles Flinn, Jr.
Ms. Mary Grau
Ms. Erin Keyes
Ms. Jean Lastine
Mr. Brian Melendez
Ms. Amy Moberg in honor of Sarah Shella-Stevens
Ms. Pat O'Neill
Mr. William Sjoholm
Ms. Deb Thompson
Mr. Daniel Tyson

CMLS Staff and Volunteers Help Prevent Homelessness

According to an updated study released by the Wilder Foundation in March of 2010, the number of homeless people in Minnesota has risen sharply compared to an earlier Wilder Foundation Report in 2006.  Among other causes, the economic recession has created a new unemployed population and impacted their ability to find or pay for affordable housing.

Message from the Executive Director

On behalf of our staff and clients, we thank our volunteer attorneys for donating your talents and time to make the ideal of “equal justice under law” a reality for our clients.  In 2010, CMLS continued its advocacy on behalf of families vulnerable to abuse, neglect and other major economic disruptions in their lives.  CMLS staff successfully obtained many protective orders and divorces for victims of domestic violence.