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Attend VLN’s event to help people in poverty obtain legal services

Skilled legal counsel can make an enormous difference in a person’s life. Yet unfortunately, legal help is outside of reach for many individuals because of cost.  That’s why organizations such as the Volunteer Lawyers Network are so important – they make sound legal advice more accessible to people living in poverty. To support the Volunteer Lawyers Network, attend the upcoming Riverfront Celebration. You’ll hear from a distinguished keynote speaker, support a worthy cause, and enjoy historic Minneapolis in early fall.

The Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) is a non-profit organization that connects volunteer attorneys with people who have low incomes. VLN helps people in poverty obtain legal services to provide for their basic needs. With the right advice, an individual in a difficult situation can learn what remedies are available to them and what steps to take. An attorney can help them pursue solutions they desperately need.

VLN’s annual Riverfront Celebration takes place on Thursday, September 12. The event helps VLN raise funds to support its mission. It will be held from 4:30 p.m. – 7 p.m. at the Nicollet Island Pavilion in Minneapolis. When you attend, you’ll hear from Keynote Speaker Commissioner Rebecca Lucero of the Minnesota Department of Human Rights. Award winners include Volunteer of the Year Nysha Cornelius of Paschal Nwokocha & Chukwu Law Offices, and John D. Levine Distinguished Service Award recipient Jody DeSmidt of DeSmidt Rabuse PLLC.

Schwegman is honored to be a sponsor of the Riverfront Celebration. Principal Warren Woessner is glad that Schwegman’s support for VLN is making a difference in Minnesota. “About 9,000 client services are provided in Minnesota by volunteer lawyers through Volunteer Lawyers Network each year – it’s a huge positive impact in our community. Several hundred attorneys volunteer these services – drafting documents, writing letters to landlords, handling custody and divorce matters are just a few examples. The volunteer attorneys are positively impacted too – they have the privilege and satisfaction of using their JDs for public good,” said Warren. “We make our living in the law and our profession depends on a smoothly functioning legal system. Justice should not depend on your income, but in the real world, it does. Schwegman is part of the solution to this problem by consistently supporting VLN, Legal Aid, and many other organizations that work for access to justice.”

Many intellectual property attorneys are involved in Volunteer Lawyers Network.  Kate DeVries Smith is a patent attorney at the small boutique patent firm of Pauly, DeVries Smith & Deffner in the same building as Schwegman in downtown Minneapolis.  Kate is a VLN board member and housing law volunteer. Earlier this year, Kate co-counseled with an in-house patent attorney on a housing law case. “We successfully argued a motion to have an eviction action expunged from the record of our client, a mother and grandmother who had been homeless for 4 years, since the eviction at issue,” Kate described. “Before the expungement, she really struggled to get basic needs met, spending her disability income on temporary housing and trying hard to stay out of shelters. It was very challenging to manage her high blood pressure and other health issues and eat healthy while homeless. After getting the eviction action off her record, she qualified for a housing benefit and is now in an apartment, and much better able to take good care of herself and be involved in her children’s and grandchildren’s lives.  That was a lot of fun to see.  VLN helps me and other volunteer attorneys provide those kinds of contributions to clients in need. Even if there isn’t a dramatic happy ending like in that case, clients feel supported, have more options, and are more knowledgeable as they navigate stressful times or complex issues.”

To learn more about attending the Riverfront Celebration or supporting VLN, please call 612-752-6655 or visit their website. Let’s help put essential legal services within everyone’s reach.


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