History

 

The Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota was originally founded in 1952 as the Legal Aid Service of Duluth.  According to the original charter, the organization was created by members of the local bar association to provide “legal advice and service to those among the people of Duluth, Minnesota, who are unable to afford legal counsel.”  Over the years, that core mission has been expanded to embrace the entire arrowhead region of Minnesota, but the goal has remained the same:  to provide high quality legal services to individuals and families at the lowest end of the economic ladder.

Our service area now includes 11 counties, extending as far west as Cass and Crow Wing and as far south as Pine County.  We have five offices located across the region:  Duluth, Virginia, Grand Rapids, Brainerd (Satellite), and Pine City (Satellite).  The administrative offices are located within the Duluth office.

There are four major categories of legal assistance need: family law, housing law, elder law, and economic protection.  In the family law area, our clients need legal assistance obtaining safety through domestic violence orders for protection and obtaining stability through divorce and custody proceedings.

In the housing arena, our clients need legal assistance to gain access to public housing and prevention of evictions or foreclosures to maintain stabilityOur clients also need tenant and landlord legal education.

In the Seniors Project, our elder law program, clients need legal assistance regarding a wide range of topics including wills, bankruptcy, consumer protection, grandparents’ rights, affordable housing, and access to medical services.

Finally, under the rubric of economic protection, our clients need legal assistance to maintain their income and preserve their basic services. These include assisting with issues such as unpaid wages, denial of unemployment benefits, terminations or restrictions of other public benefits, utility shutoffs, prevention of garnishments, consumer protection, and ending creditor abuse.

When a person calls or visits one of our offices with a legal problem, they are required to complete an intake.  At intake, income eligibility is determined.  If their income falls at or below the 125% of poverty, their case is handed over to a paralegal or an attorney.    Our clients are at the lowest end of the economic spectrum.