Case Handling Protocols

To fulfill ethical requirements and best practices for avoiding malpractice claims, attorneys need systems for organizing the essential procedural parts of their services. While many different lists may be adequate, below is a list approved by VLN’s ethics advisor, Pat Burns (First Assistant Director, Office of Lawyers Professional Responsibility) and VLN’s malpractice carrier. It also incorporates some steps that can be helpful when representing clients from poverty.


pdfdownload2 July Tip of the Month-Case Handling Protocols

Working With Interpreters

While many of our clients speak multiple languages,  English may not be their first language, so we need help to communicate important legal processes and concepts. April’s tip provides valuable pointers on working with interpreters.



Representing Clients who have a Mental Illness

The 25-year old American with Disabilities Act provides protections for the many among us with mental illness.1 Mental illnesses are medical conditions that may disrupt a person’s thinking, feeling, mood, ability to relate to others, and daily functioning. Because individuals with mental illnesses have higher rates of poverty (their illness can be so debilitating as to prevent them from working), most pro bono attorneys will eventually be helping clients with mental illness.2 The following provide some guidance for providing legal services to clients with a mental illness (hereinafter referred to as just “clients”).

VLN December 2015 Tip of the Month – Working with Clients with Mental Illness

Cold Weather Rule

As we enter into Minnesota’s “cold weather period”, energy customers can avail themselves of the Cold Weather Rule protections to prevent heat shutoffs through the winter. The Cold Weather Rule is not a bright line rule preventing utility disconnections. Instead, it establishes a framework for the customer to establish payment arrangements to avoid a utility disconnection.

Submitted by: Chris Hanrahan

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pdfdownload2 November Tip of the Month –Cold Weather Rule

Introduction to Financial Coaching

May’s Tip of the Month focuses on financial coaching and how it can help VLN clients build a stable financial foundation for their future. This tip introduces what financial coaching is, how it can help low-income families, and how to refer clients to this new program. Read more >>

Submitted by: Don Fulton, Financial Coach

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pdfdownload2 May Tip of the Month –Introduction to Financial Coaching

Cancellation of Debt

March’s Tip of the Month focuses on the IRS tax form 1099-C, Cancellation of Debt. Around this time of year, clients begin to see these forms in their mailbox and they often come as a surprise. This tip identifies why the form is issued, some exclusions that may apply and if a client is still legally responsible for the debt. Read more >>

Submitted by: Margaret Henehan, Nancy C. Dreher Fellow

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pdfdownload2 March Tip of the Month –

Unpaid Wage Claims

VLN clinics serve a number of clients involved in disputes with former employers over unpaid wages. The timing of an employee’s pay depends upon the circumstances of the employment termination. Different statutes, albeit with similar remedies, apply to wage claims depending on whether the employee quit or resigned, or whether the employee was discharged or terminated by the employer. This month’s tip provides basic information to assist attorneys in assessing wage claims and determining the applicable law. Read more >>

Submitted by:Glendon Drew, Volunteer Lawyers Network

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pdfdownload2 December Tip of the Month – Unpaid Wage Claims