(Pro Bono Policy | Pro Bono Spotlight | Recognition)
Pro Bono - Fulfilling Unmet Needs in the Community
The Maslon Law Firm recognizes that we must act as a leader, both in our profession and within the communities we serve, to address the rising incidence of unmet legal needs among the disadvantaged. As attorneys, we believe such work is our moral and ethical responsibility and is fundamental to the integrity of the judicial system. Our long-standing commitment to pro bono work includes participation in the Pro Bono Challenge, a pact formed by the nation's largest law firms to significantly increase the amount of pro bono work being performed by their organizations. In addition, Maslon is a participant in the Minnesota State Bar Association Pro Bono Standard program, which encourages firms to meet the Standard by meeting a minimum level of pro bono service from its lawyers.
We encourage our attorneys and paralegals to pursue pro bono work that represents their distinct individual interests and concerns. As a result, our work spans a broad spectrum of clients and cases, including civil rights matters. Maslon has represented and will continue to represent a diverse range of clients, including work through the following organizations:
- ABA Death Penalty Project
- ACLU of Minnesota
- Catholic Charities
- Center for Individual Rights
- Central Minnesota Legal Services
- Children’s Law Center
- Common Bond
- Council on Crime and Justice
- Epilepsy Foundation of Minnesota
- Federal Bar Association Pro Se Project
- Federal Public Defenders Office
- Groves Learning Center
- Hope Chest for Breast Cancer
- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
- Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota DREAMer Pro Bono Project
- Innocence Project of Minnesota
- Institute for Justice, Minnesota Chapter
- Jewish Community Center of Greater Minneapolis
- Jewish Family & Children's Services
- Legal Aid
- Little Brothers - Friends of the Elderly
- Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights
- Minneapolis Society of Fine Arts
- Minneapolis Urban League Clinic
- Minnesota Association for Injured Peace Officers
- Minnesota State Public Defenders
- Minnesota Wills for Heroes
- Parks and Trails Council of Minnesota
- Partners in Christian Education
- People Serving People
- Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services
- Tubman/Chrysalis Safety Project
- Twin Cities Habitat for Humanity
- United Jewish Fund & Council
- Volunteers Lawyers Network
- Volunteer Lawyers Network Housing Court Project
- Washburn Center for Children
(Pro Bono Policy | Pro Bono Spotlight | Recognition)
Pro Bono Spotlight
Mark Lee, Advocate for Asylum Seekers, Interviewed on MNPR's "Minnesota Sounds and Voices"
Maslon Litigation Attorney Mark Lee was featured on Minnesota Public Radio's May 28, 2013 edition of "Minnesota Sounds and Voices," regarding his work to help refugees win asylum. Mark, who earned an undergraduate degree in social work before becoming an attorney, serves on the Board of Directors, and as a steering committee member and volunteer for Minneapolis-based Advocates for Human Rights. The program notes Mark's 20-year record of taking on asylum cases and specifically highlights his recent work with a Burundian human rights leader known only as "Mr. S.," who fled his native country after years of oppression and violence. View full story.
Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal Features LegalCORPS "Virtual Law" Pro Bono Program; Marty Rosenbaum Quoted on Maslon's Involvement
A May 17, 2013 article in the Minneapolis/St. Paul Business Journal titled "Virtual Law" a successful "pro-business pro bono service," a monthly virtual legal clinic that features an innovative partnership between in-house attorneys at Medtronic Inc. and business lawyers at Maslon. The virtual business law clinics were piloted through Minneapolis nonprofit LegalCORPS in 2012. View full story.
Mark Lee Offers Pro Bono Representation to Help Burundian Human Rights Leader Gain Political Asylum
Mark Lee, partner in Maslon's Litigation Practice Group and board member of the Advocates for Human Rights, successfully gained asylum for a Burundian human rights leader known as "Mr. S" who had fled his native country after years of oppression and violence at the hands of the Burundian government. Officially granted on June 27, 2012, the asylum followed 5 years of removal proceedings for which Mark partnered with Matt Lewis, attorney in the office of General Counsel for General Mills, Inc., to provide pro bono representation. View full story.
Maslon Attorneys Take Pro Bono Case Challenging Voting Amendment
Maslon attorneys Bill Pentelovitch, Rich Wilson, Justin Perl, Wayne Moskowitz, Alain Baudry and Catherine Ahlin-Halverson are acting as pro bono representation for the League of Women Voters Minnesota, Common Cause, Jewish Community Action, and five individuals in a challenge to what is popularly referred to as the "Voter ID Amendment" which is to be voted on in the upcoming November 2012 general election. View full story.
David Herr and Haley Schaffer Submit Amicus Brief for Innocence Project Defendant
David Herr and Haley Schaffer, partners in Maslon's Litigation Group, filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Innocence Project of Minnesota, and in support of a defendant in a murder case where a County Attorney from a county not prosecuting the case interfered with the availability of medical testimony of the defense team. View full story.
David Schultz's Pro Bono Civil Wrongful Death Suit Hearing Held Before the Courts—and the Cameras
Maslon attorney David Schultz was back in court on May 29, 2012, arguing against a defendant's motion to vacate a $6 million default judgment in the wrongful death suit against Aaron Foster. The case was argued before Ramsey County District Court Judge Margaret Marrinan and was part of a pilot project in Minnesota courts to allow cameras and news media into the courtroom for some civil cases. View full story.
Attorney Susan Link Featured on WCCO's Minnesota Law Radio Show Regarding the Minnesota Wills for Heroes Program
Susan Link, partner and head of Maslon's Estate Planning Group, was featured on WCCO's Minnesota Law radio show on May 5, 2012, to discuss the Minnesota State Bar Association's Wills for Heroes program. Susan serves as program director for Minnesota Wills for Heroes, which provides free legal services to assist first responders in preparing Wills, Health Care Directives, Powers of Attorney, and suggested beneficiary designation language to protect themselves and their families in the event of their death. View full story.
David Schultz Wins $6M Judgment for Pro Bono Client in a Civil Wrongful Death Suit; Family Finds Some Justice for 1981 Death of Their Mother
Maslon attorney David Schultz offered pro bono representation to the family of Barbara Winn, who died in 1981 of a gunshot wound to the chest during a domestic assault by her boyfriend Aaron Foster. The assault and subsequent gunshot were heard by Barbara's children and neighbors. Foster claimed Winn committed suicide and was not initially charged with the crime. On February 1, 2012, a Ramsey County judge ruled there was enough evidence to show Foster was civilly liable for Winn's death. Foster was ordered to pay $6 million in compensatory and punitive damages. View full story.
Maslon to Participate as Inaugural Firm in MSBA Pro Bono Standard Program
Maslon is pleased to announce that it will participate in the Minnesota State Bar Association Pro Bono Standard program as one of the inaugural firms. The MSBA Pro Bono Standard encourages participating law firms to contribute one percent of its lawyers' collective billable hours to pro bono service during the first reporting year and two or three percent each year thereafter (depending on size of the firm). The Standard must be met primarily by the delivery of legal services to persons of limited means or to organizations who address the needs of persons of limited means.
Julian Zebot Appointed to MSBA Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee
Julian Zebot, member of Maslon's Litigation Group, has been appointed to the Minnesota State Bar Association's Legal Assistance to the Disadvantaged Committee. The committee was formed to encourage lawyers to participate in local volunteer attorney and judicare programs and to support statewide programs providing civil legal assistance to people who would otherwise be unable to afford it. Julian has been very active in pro bono work as a volunteer at Legal Access Point Clinic, Hennepin County; Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission Project; and Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, Pro Bono Naturalization Program.
Maslon Meets the 2009 Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge
Maslon is pleased to announce that it has met the 2009 Pro Bono Institute's Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge®. The Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge is a public service commitment made by major law firms around the country. Under the auspices of the challenge, firms must devote three percent of their billable hours or a set number of hours per attorney to the provision of pro bono legal services to individuals and organizations in need. The Challenge is administered by the Law Firm Pro Bono Project of the Pro Bono Institute.
More than 60% of Maslon's attorneys participated in qualifying pro bono work in 2009, helping the firm exceed the Law Firm Pro Bono Challenge requirement of committing three percent of the firm's billable hours to giving back to the community. In total, Maslon attorneys contributed nearly 3,400 hours of pro bono service in 2009.
"We're very proud of our firm's pro bono achievement this past year. We believe such work is our moral and ethical responsibility and is fundamental to the integrity of the judicial system." stated 2009 Managing Partner Cooper Ashley.
Maslon Lawyers Secure Death Row Inmate's Right to Forensic Testing of Evidence
On Wednesday, June 10, 2009, Maslon attorneys Haley Schaffer and JoLynn Markison achieved a significant victory for client Douglas Tyrone Armstrong, who is currently serving on Death Row in Texas. Maslon's pro bono representation of Mr. Armstrong, led by David T. Schultz and Mike McCarthy, was arranged through the ABA Death Penalty Project. Julian Zebot contributed significantly by leading the research and writing of the motion and the briefing and being significantly involved in all strategy decisions relative to the motion. The case is now on direct appeal and Maslon has filed a petition for Habeas Corpus on Mr. Armstrong's behalf.
The June 10, 2009, hearing focused on whether Mr. Armstrong has a right to obtain forensic testing of various items of evidence that were not tested during the initial trial phase. The Honorable Noe Gonzalez granted Mr. Armstrong's motion in full, ordering the evidence to be analyzed for any biological material and finger and/or palm prints. The testing will be conducted by the Serological Research Institute (SERI) in conjunction with Forensic Science Associates (FSA). The hearing garnered media coverage by two local stations in McAllen, Texas. Links to the video clips can be found at: KRGV and KGBT.
Mark Lee, Mike McCarthy and JoLynn Markison Win Remand from Eighth Circuit as Volunteers for the Advocates for Human Rights
Mark Lee, Mike McCarthy and JoLynn Markison, Maslon volunteers for the Advocates for Human Rights, recently won remand from the Eighth Circuit, which found that the Immigration Court's reliance on an unsubstantiated report from the State Department as a basis for denying an asylum application violated due process. The court in Banat v. Holder held that "[r]eliance on reports of investigations that do not provide sufficient information about how the investigation was conducted are fundamentally unfair because, without that information, it is nearly impossible for the immigration court to assess the report's probative value and the asylum applicant is not allowed a meaningful opportunity to rebut the investigation's allegations." The Court went on to say that the report in this case was glaringly deficient in providing the most basic indicia of its circumstantial probability of reliability.
Mark Lee, head of Maslon's Litigation Practice Group, long-time Advocates' volunteer and member of The Advocates' Refugee and Immigrant Program Steering Committee, has represented Mr. Banat since 2002. Lee was joined by Mike McCarthy, member of Maslon's Appellate Practice Group, who argued the case before the Eighth Circuit, and JoLynn Markison, member of Maslon's Litigation Practice Group, on brief. Matt Lewis, now with the office of general counsel at 3M Corporation, briefed the case before the Board of Immigration Appeals.
The Advocates for Human Rights welcomed the decision. "The Eighth Circuit's recognition that reliance on unsubstantiated reports violates due process guarantees for asylum seekers brings much-needed fairness to asylum proceedings," says Michele Garnett McKenzie, advocacy director of The Advocates for Human Rights.
Martin Rosenbaum's Commentary on Helping Entrepreneurs through Pro Bono Legal Services Featured in Minneapolis Star Tribune
Commentary from Martin Rosenbaum, member of Maslon's Business and Securities group, was featured in the Minneapolis Star Tribune article, "Volunteers help budding entrepreneurs through legal thickets." The article, which appeared in the January 15, 2009, edition, discusses the importance of offering pro bono legal services to struggling nonprofits and shoestring entrepreneurs, stating that the vast majority fail with legal problems as one of the reasons.
"We encourage people to set it up right and help them stay in business. This is preventative medicine," explained Rosenbaum. "As lawyers, it's part of our obligation to make the community a better place." To view the full article, go to: Volunteers help budding entrepreneurs through legal thickets
Susan Link Interviewed by KARE 11 on Minnesota Wills for Heroes
Susan Link, chair of Maslon's Estate Planning Group, was interviewed on KARE 11 Sunrise regarding her work for Minnesota Wills for Heroes. The interview, conducted by host Kim Insley, aired on Thursday, September 4, 2008. As program director for Minnesota Wills for Heroes, Link explains the project's origination in South Carolina in response to the tragedies of 9/11 when emergency first responders indicated that estate planning services were one of their top needs and describes her role in helping to launch the program in Minnesota this past year through the Minnesota State Bar Association. She comments, "85-90% of first responders have no estate planning documents in place," and cites concerns about cost as a primary deterrent.
Maslon Answers Call for Volunteers for the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Project
When Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights and The Minnesota Law Firm Pro Bono Consortium (a group of more than 15 Minnesota Law Firms that are working together to take larger pro bono cases) put out a call for volunteers, Maslon answered in force. More than 20 attorneys and paralegals have been taking statements of Liberians in the Twin Cities, who have been subject to human rights abuses and war crimes. Their statements will be used to record history and may help victims heal and may also be used for prosecution of war criminals in the future.
VLN Legal Access Point (LAP) Clinic Connects Maslon with Clients in Need
Maslon attorneys give their time to the Volunteer Lawyers Network's Legal Access Point Clinic (LAP) on a weekly basis. Attorney volunteer Shanna Sadeh says that the experience provides her with a different type of client interaction and reminds her how complicated the legal system is for those who are unfamiliar with the process. Advice sought is most often in the areas of landlord tenant law, employment law, bankruptcy and debtor-creditor law. The volunteers also provide general information on forms and the role of the court. Attorneys Mary Vasaly, Paul Civello, Jenny Benowitz, Julian Zebot and Catherine Ahlin-Halverson join Shanna in volunteering services at the LAP Clinic.
SMRLS Health Care Directives Project Enables Maslon Attorneys to Assist Seniors
Attorneys from Maslon and Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services "SMRLS" have teamed up on a new pro bono initiative to provide free legal community education sessions to economically disadvantaged seniors on a variety of legal topics, including Health Care Directives. Larry Koch has presented at SMRLS community education sessions and have received high accolades.
Maslon Attorney Offers Representation to Women Through The Pro Bono Safety Project
Nicole Narotzky has volunteered with the Chrysalis Safety Project for the past three years, helping low-income battered women obtain Orders for Protection. Recently, Nicole obtained an Order for Protection on behalf of a client and her minor son. Nicole continues her involvement because "Chrysalis is a wonderful organization and the Safety Project is a great way to represent a client in a (usually) short term pro bono case."
Minnesota State Bar Association, Wills for Heroes
Sponsored by the Minnesota State Bar Association and Co-Chaired by Maslon attorney Susan Link, the Minnesota Wills for Heroes program is designed to provide free legal services to prepare basic estate planning documents for Minnesota First Responders. First Responders include: police officers, firefighters, EMTs, and corrections officers (in addition to the spouses or widow/widowers of such personnel). The volunteer attorneys will draft basic Wills, Powers of Attorney and Health Care Directives for the First Responders and their spouses who have a collective net worth of less than $500,000 per person.
Susan Link Receives President's Award From the MSBA
Maslon Attorney Susan J. Link received the President's Award from the Minnesota State Bar Association as part of Minnesota Wills for Heroes. Susan serves as Co-Chair for the organization.
(Pro Bono Policy | Pro Bono Spotlight | Recognition)
Ginny Bell Named Children's Law Center of Minnesota April 2011 Volunteer of the Month
Ginny Bell, member of Maslon's Litigation Group, was recently named April 2011 Volunteer of the Month by the Children's Law Center (CLC) of Minnesota. The CLC provides support for foster care youth in Minnesota through systematic reform and free legal representation. It is the only organization in Minnesota to provide legal representation for foster children. Ginny has volunteered with the CLC since 1997 and has been a strong advocate for helping foster children navigate child welfare issues and giving them a voice.
"It is indeed a privilege to work with such an exceptional organization," said Ginny. "Everyone at CLC is so knowledgeable and dedicated to what they are doing. I am fortunate to be able to work with [them]."
Maslon Receives Distinguished Service Award for Children from Children's Law Center of Minnesota
The Maslon Law Firm was honored by Children's Law Center of Minnesota (CLC) with the Distinguished Service Award for Children at the 13th Anniversary Celebration and Benefit on Wednesday, October 1, 2008 in Minneapolis. The Distinguished Service Award for Children is presented to firms who have given extensively of their time and legal skill to advocate on behalf of children within the legal system. In accepting the award, Maslon acknowledged the particular involvement of attorneys Mary Vasaly, Bill Mullin, Virginia Bell and Alain Baudry.
"Throughout CLC's years of operation, Maslon attorneys have volunteered their time and talents to make children's voices heard in the systems that affect them. Maslon lawyers have set a high standard for pro bono representation of children and have particularly contributed to the work of CLC," explained CLC Executive Director Gail Chang Bohr. (view full announcement)
Susan Link Named Maslon's 2008 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year
Maslon is pleased to recognize Susan Link as our 2008 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. Susan demonstrates an outstanding commitment to providing pro bono legal services. In the past year, she has devoted more than 400 hours to Minnesota Wills For Heroes. She has worked tirelessly to develop processes, training and most importantly wills for this program. We applaud Susan for her service to the community and those who would otherwise not have the assistance of counsel.
David Schultz Named Maslon's 2007 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year
Maslon is pleased to recognize David Schultz as our 2007 Pro Bono Attorney of the Year. David is an attorney who demonstrates a significant commitment to providing pro bono legal services. In the past year David has devoted more than 100 hours to pro bono service. In addition to those hours, David has been instrumental in positioning Maslon to take its first death penalty case. David has also been involved with the Innocence Project, the Liberian Truth and Reconciliation Commission and numerous other projects. We applaud David for his extraordinary commitment to serving the community.