Become a volunteer lawyer
Volunteer to increase access to advice and information about civil legal matters to those who cannot afford it.
What is Minnesota Legal Advice Online?
Minnesota Legal Advice Online is operated by Legal Services State Support (State Support). It functions like a walk-in legal clinic, providing brief legal advice to low-income Minnesotans. Clients who meet the eligibility criteria can sign up and post a question. All questions that are waiting for an answer are available to any registered volunteer lawyer to answer. Lawyers provide information and basic legal advice without any expectation of long-term representation.
The purpose of the website is to increase access to advice and information about civil legal matters to those who cannot afford it.
How are clients screened?
Because Legal Services State Support is part of the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition and funded by the Legal Services Advisory Committee, we only serve those individuals whose income is below the income standard.
• The user must be a Minnesota resident;
• The user must have household income at or below 200% of the federal poverty level;
• The user must be at least 14 years of age; and
• The user may not request assistance with criminal law matters.
Users must agree to answer those questions truthfully. Once the client has passed the screening and created an account, they can submit questions. Client name and opposing party name (when available) are visible, so lawyers can check for conflicts before responding to any question.
Continuing Ed Credits
Lawyers earn CLE credit for time spent researching and answering questions. Lawyers keep their time and report it in the MLAO system before logging out of each session. Lawyers may view the number of hours they have volunteered. Lawyers may earn up to 1 hour of CLE credit for every six hours of pro bono provided. See the rules, Rule 6, specifically for more information.
Expectations & Time Commitments
Volunteers with the site can answer as many questions as they wish, at their convenience. There are no minimum hours required. Lawyers can preview available questions before agreeing to respond, to be sure they feel qualified to respond. A response may take anywhere from 10 minutes to an hour to prepare, depending on the complexity of the question and level of detail in the lawyer’s response. Because the site is always available, lawyers can respond to questions whenever and wherever it is convenient.
We do expect that volunteers will respond as completely as possible to the questions, based on the information provided by the client. We additionally expect lawyers to adhere to the ethical standards and only respond to questions where they have adequate knowledge and consult with a more experienced colleague if necessary to respond.
What kind of lawyers should participate?
All lawyers are welcome! While there are certain types of legal questions that regularly come up (family law, consumer & debt, landlord-tenant being three common areas), we need lawyers with different areas of expertise to volunteer. The site only handles civil legal questions, however, not criminal cases.
How do I sign up?
Lawyers who would like to participate must provide contact information and their attorney ID number, sign the lawyer use agreement, and request approval from the website administrator. Before the lawyer’s account is activated, the website administrator checks to ensure the lawyer is licensed in Minnesota and is in good standing with the Lawyers Professional Responsibility Board. Once a lawyer has been approved by the website administrator, the lawyer receives an email notification and can begin answering user questions.
If you have specific questions or need more information you can read our FAQ’s or contact the site administrator at egood at mnlegalservices.org.