Helping Those in Need

CMLS Staff

CMLS offers a Family Law Clinic two times per month in partnership with the Anoka County Law Library. In 2016, CMLS staff provided advice or brief services to 261 individuals in need of legal help.

CMLS Self-Help Center

The Central Minnesota Legal Services Self-Help Center was created in 2006 through a partnership between CMLS and the Stearns County Law Help Center. Currently a full-time CMLS attorney and full-time paralegal staff the center.

The Self-Help Center provides self-represented litigants with procedural assistance in completing court forms available on the Minnesota Judicial Branch website.

In 2016 the CMLS Self-Help Center provided procedural assistance to 5,096 individuals in-person and 1,1771 over the phone. A total of 4,412 litigants utilized the services of the Self-Help Center. While the majority of those people were residents of Stearns and Benton counties, the Center also assisted residents of 39 other Minnesota Counties.

Volunteer attorneys

In 2016, CMLS’ volunteer attorneys donated more than 1,634 hours of pro bono legal services. Volunteer attorneys represented clients in a wide range of legal matters, and provided advise to clients at community clinics. Using a conservative hourly billing rate of $200 per hour, pro bono attorneys donated $326,757 of time in serving low-income clients of Central Minnesota.

In the 2014 Minnesota Legal Services Coalition Economic Impact report, it was noted that volunteer and Judicare attorneys closed 16,060 cases in Minnesota and nearly $22 million was donated legal time for low-income Minnesotans.


Making a Difference

Legal aid programs in Minnesota create a significant economic benefit for Minnesota. Statewide, 48,444 families and individuals (based on 2014 data) were helped by a coalition of 22 legal aid programs. More Minnesotans are safe, protected, housed, secure, independent, and productive with this help.

In 2014, legal aid programs in Minnesota helped 1,923 client households obtain a successful result in a legal case that involved a victim of abuse.

Domestic Abuse

CMLS prioritizes cases where domestic violence is present to help victims and their families achieve safety. CMLS is a partner with the Fourth Judicial District’s Family Court Enhancement Project (FCEP) collaboration in Hennepin County. As part of this project, CMLS provides a staff attorney who is available to meet with parties identified as potentially benefiting from speaking with an attorney on child-related relief Order for Protection matters. Our attorneys are available each day of the week that the court hears this calendar.

The Fourth Judicial District was one of four sites around the country that was awarded federal funding through the Office on Violence Against Women’s Justice for Families Grant to participate in the FCEP. The FCEP goals include:

  • Assessing implications of domestic violence on custody and parenting time
  • Assessing whether victims are pressured to reach agreements that are not in their best interest
  • Increasing access to representation, advocacy and information for victims
  • Increasing access to family court for Native American community members

Economic Impact

According to a report compiled by members of the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition in 2014, legal aid programs in Minnesota generated $133 million in revenue, including the following benefits for our clients:

  • Brought $3.8 million in new federal benefits to the state
  • Enabled Minnesota clients to retain $4.4 million in federal benefits
  • $7.3 million in avoided domestic violence costs
  • $4.1 million in avoided homelessness costs
  • $474,000 in avoided costs for legal document preparation
  • Brought $5.6 million in non-governmental income to clients
  • Protected $13 million in non-governmental income to clients

In addition, legal aid staff attorneys spent approximately 350,000 hours on direct representation valued at $70.8 million in legal services provided to clients. In-kind revenue of pro bono representation represents nearly $21.7 million in donated legal time. 

For every $1.00 spend on Legal Aid the return of investment is $3.94

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