VLN Brief Legal Services Clinic

The Volunteer Lawyers Network (VLN) Brief Legal Services Clinic at the Dignity Center

In pursuit of its mission to support each person’s stabilization, the Dignity Center is a host site for a VLN brief legal services clinic. The on-site legal clinic allows clients to address their legal issues side-by-side with other issues creating instability in their lives. The VLN clinic is generally open on the same schedule as the Dignity Center:  Monday, Wednesdays and Fridays from 9:00-11:30.

What is a brief legal services clinic?
At the VLN clinic, you will meet face-to-face with an attorney for approximately 30 minutes free of charge. The attorney will answer your questions and/or refer you to other places for help. You will not receive any ongoing representation or ongoing services by the attorney. Any action taken after your meeting with the attorney is your responsibility.

What type of service can I expect?
Attorneys can provide brief services, such as: writing a letter, making a phone call, obtaining specific information from a third party, drafting pleadings or a portion of pleadings, assisting in service of process, and providing written information regarding your legal issue and the next steps to take. Once again, any action taken after the meeting is your responsibility unless you’ve reached a specific agreement with the attorney in writing.

What legal issues do you address?
Attorneys can help clients with most legal issues, including: criminal record expungement, family (divorce, custody, parenting time), creditor/debtor, consumer, housing, employment, tax and government benefits. Clients with immigration, criminal and bankruptcy will be directly referred to other organizations.

How do I set up an appointment to see a VLN attorney at the Dignity Center?
The VLN brief services clinic is only available to clients currently working with a Dignity Center advocate.  Clients in a relationship with a Dignity Center advocate may schedule an appointment with a VLN attorney at the Dignity Center. Please note, clients who miss an appointment with a VLN attorney without calling to cancel in advance will not be permitted to schedule another appointment.

I have an appointment but need to cancel it, what do I do?
Call 612-435-1315 and clearly state your name, date and time of your appointment with the attorney and that you need to cancel the appointment. Also, leave a phone number where we can reach you if we have any follow-up questions.

How should I prepare for my appointment with an attorney?
Bring any documents with you that you think the attorney may want to see OR if they directly involve your legal question (for example, pleadings, letters from government agencies, lease agreements, criminal history records, etc.). Also, be able to clearly define what your goal is and what outcome you would like.

Do you need attorney volunteers?
Yes! We are always looking for volunteer attorneys (or law firms) to help cover the clinic hours. The minimum time commitment is generally one clinic a month – or three hours – for one year. The clinic is open Monday, Wednesday and Fridays from 9-12. Malpractice insurance is available through VLN and all resources and training are provided within the three hour a month time commitment. Clinic assistants are also on hand to assist with paperwork and administrative duties. Attorney volunteers must have at least three years of civil litigation experience, be in good standing with the Minnesota bar, and must register with VLN as a volunteer. For more information, please contact Muria at muriak@yahoo.com.

I’m not an attorney (or have less than three years civil legal experience) but would still like to get involved. Can I?
Yes! We also need legal clinic assistants to assist attorneys with interviewing clients, processing paperwork, and drafting letters and documents. Contact Muria at muriak@yahoo.com for more details.

How do I find out more about the Volunteer Lawyers Network?
Click here to see the VLN website. The Dignity Center is just one several sites for the VLN Legal Clinics.