Established in 1966, Volunteer Lawyers Network, Ltd. (VLN) is a 501(c)(3) non-profit which provides civil legal services to low-income people through volunteer attorneys. VLN’s mission is to protect and promote the basic human needs of people in poverty through the power of legal volunteers.
Our laws offer little protection to those without access to a lawyer. VLN extends the promise of Equal Justice under Law to those who otherwise would be denied it.
We bring the power of the law to protect the safety, sustenance, shelter, and family relationships of struggling individuals and families in our community.
VLN seeks to provide as many low-income persons as possible with a positive outcome to their legal matter. Positive outcomes include: preventing homelessness; preventing illegal garnishment; preventing domestic violence; obtaining wages for hours worked; and obtaining custody orders.
Staff Size 2016/17 (Total): 17.7 FTE
Resource Attorneys: 4.3 FTE
Intake/Case Management: 7.15 FTE
Admin: 5.25 FTE
Judge Nancy C. Dreher Bankruptcy Fellows: 1.00 FTE
What Makes VLN Unique?
- VLN is one of the largest independent pro bono organizations in the country and recognized as a national leader in program development and best practices.
- VLN collaborates with the Fourth Judicial District Self Help Center, Legal Aid Society of Minneapolis, Central Minnesota Legal Services, Council on Crime and Justice and many others to provide a coordinated and comprehensive response to the civil legal needs of those in poverty.
- VLN consistently matches talented, top-notch private practice attorneys with low-income families and individuals who cannot afford legal representation.
- VLN offers limited-scope services and advice to the working poor.
- VLN’s triage, training and support systems (such as document gathering) leverage valuable volunteer attorney hours so they can help more clients in the time available.
Whom We Serve
By Race/Ethnicity: % Cases
African American: 37%
American Indian: 3%
By Gender: % Cases
VLN pro bono volunteers ensure those in poverty have access to the laws guaranteeing safety, shelter, sustenance and family relationships, including:
- Laws protecting social security disability (and other basic sustenance money) from garnishment – when creditors become more aggressive and claim income and assets to which they are not entitled.
- Laws requiring landlords to provide save and decent housing – by helping tenants understand and enforce those rights.
- Laws protecting a parent’s relationship with his or her children, and promoting children’s safety and care – by representing parties in divorce and custody proceedings.
- Laws enabling those facing unanticipated hardships such as death of a spouse or illness to ask for a fresh start – by helping individuals declare Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
- Laws providing a second chance for those who can show they are rehabilitated – by drafting petitions to expunge (seal) criminal records to enable people to obtain housing and jobs.
- Laws encouraging a fair hearing on the merits of a case – by responding to boilerplate collection petitions where plaintiffs have no proof of the debt and are often wrong in their calculations.
As a result, VLN clients are more able to maintain safe housing, obtain and maintain decent jobs, experience more safety, maintain important relationships, and enjoy peace of mind.