The VLN Tip of the Month Turns 10!

This month’s Tip of the Month is on… the Tip of the Month. Launched in March 2006, the VLN Tip of the Month provides succinct and practical information about topics impacting low-income clients, poverty law, and pro bono service. Little did we know at the time that almost 10 years and 118 tips later, the Tip of the Month would still be going strong.

The idea for the Tip of the Month was to provide an easy to use reference for volunteers who are assisting clients outside their normal area of practice. The Tip of the Month is commonly used to notify volunteers about new laws or changes to existing statutes relevant to VLN’s clients. The first Tip of the Month provided information about the Certificate of Rent Paid and Renter’s Rebate. Since that time almost 50 volunteers and VLN staff members have contributed to one or more tips. The most popular topic area for a tip relate to general civil and consumer debtor issues followed closely by housing and family law tips.

VLN maintains an archive of over 95 tips at: on topics ranging from Working with Clients Experiencing Mental Illness to Houseguests Who Overstay Their Welcome. The Tips of the Month are reviewed on a regular basis to make sure they remain accurate and relevant for our volunteers and community partners. Over the years we have retired some tips and updated others.

As the Tip of the Month enters its second decade, we need your help! We would love to hear from you either that you are interested in writing a tip or to let us know of a topic you would like us to address. Topics can range from general, such as building effective client relationships to the very specific such as emergency relief in family court.

Please feel free to contact VLN Staff to share your ideas or to express interest in writing a tip.

Tip Submitted by VLN Staff

Criminal Expungement Document Assembly Tool

Since passage of the new expungement law, we have been working in partnership with Legal Services State Support and the Council on Crime and Justice to reprogram the HotDocs criminal expungement document assembly tool (HotDocs). This tool guides the user through compiling criminal expungement pleadings using a fill in the blank style format. It relies on pre-programmed conclusions about the user’s inputs to select the appropriate legal grounds for relief and to generate the necessary pleadings. HotDocs generates the pleadings in Microsoft Word, allowing the user to make any necessary edits and changes before printing. It is an efficient way to generate pleadings for a single case, but it pays dividends in hours saved when compiling pleadings for multiple cases. Read more >>

Submitted by: Chris Hanrahan, Resource Attorney

Download the Tip of the Month:

pdfdownload2 June Tip of the Month –Criminal Expungement Document Assembly Tool

Attorney – Social Worker Collaboration

As more legal services clinics are co-located at social services agencies and schools, there are also greater opportunities for social workers and attorneys to collaborate to meet their client’s goals. While there are concerns raised with such collaborations, there are also tremendous benefits: for the client, the attorney and the social worker. January’s Tip of the Month focuses on the benefits of such collaborations and provides specific examples of when such collaborations are particularly helpful. This tip also identifies limitations and potential pitfalls of such collaborations and how they might be overcome. Read more >>

Submitted by: Marcy Harris and Muria Kruger

Download the Tip of the Month:

pdfdownload2 January Tip of the Month – Attorney/Social Worker Collaboration

Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) Renewal Applications

The United States Citizenship Immigration Services began accepting Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) applications on August 15, 2012. Through March 31, 2014, the agency approved 553,197 DACA applications. Out of those, 4,429 came from Minnesota. As DACA turns two years old, we have much to celebrate and much left to do—including ensuring applicants timely request renewal so their DACA status does not lapse. The purpose of this tip is to raise awareness around initial and renewal DACA applications. Read more >>

Submitted by: Claudia Vincze Turcean, VLN Robina Fellow

Download the Tip of the Month:

pdfdownload2 July 2014 Tip of the Month – DACA Renewal Applications

Legal Resources & eTools on MN Court Websites

Hennepin CountyWhether you volunteer at an advice clinic or provide full representation through VLN, sharing your time and expertise with clients who have low income helps fill critical gaps in access to justice. The expansion of legal information and e-tools available on the Minnesota court websites is also intended to bridge some of the gaps. This “Tip of the Month” highlights some of those resources (hyperlinked in blue!) that may be useful to you and your clients. Read more >>

Submitted by: Katrina Zabinski, Staff Attorney 4th Judicial District & Court Self-Help Center

Download the Tip of the Month:

pdfdownload2   May Tip of the Month – Legal Resources & eTools on MN Court Websites