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When it comes to pro bono work, Lisa Lamm Bachman’s advice to lawyers interested in getting involved is simple. “Just try it…ask for help…look for mentors. Those of us who provide pro bono services would be happy to help other attorneys to get involved.”
Lamm Bachman, a partner at the Minneapolis law firm Foley & Mansfield focusing on civil litigation, business disputes, and employment matters, did just that. After graduating from Creighton University School of Law, clerking for the Fourth Judicial District of Iowa, and then as an associate with small firms, she was finally afforded the opportunity to try pro bono work because of Foley & Mansfield’s in-house program dedicated to providing pro bono services for the community. Lamm Bachman clarified that it wasn’t that she wasn’t interested in pro bono work before, just that smaller firms didn’t have enough information on how to get involved—a problem she recognizes for many lawyers. Hence, the advice to just ask the right people.
Lamm Bachman’s pro bono work focuses on two local programs, the Tubman Safety Project and the Children’s Law Center. The Tubman Safety Project assigns lawyers to represent domestic abuse victims and their children in obtaining orders for protection, as well as other temporary relief. The Tubman Safety Project is based in Minneapolis and the Children’s Law Center is based in St. Paul. The Children’s Law Center provides representation to youth in foster care. Lamm Bachman’s involvement with the Children’s Law Center was inspired after hearing the Minnesota Lawyer 2006 Attorney of the Year acceptance speech by Gail Chang Bohr,
former executive director of the Children’s Law Center, now Ramsey County District Court judge. In both instances , the work may be temporary, however it sometimes involves the appellate process. She has handled two appeals on orders of protection that began as temporary Safety Project assignments.. After becoming involved with theses cases, Lamm Bachman emphasized that it is important for her to achieve a resolution. As of June 2010, Lamm Bachman has logged 120 hours of pro bono time this year.
To volunteer with the Tubman Safety Project, a lawyer must attend a 3.5 hour training course. Likewise, the Children’s Law Center offers several upcoming training dates. Further information on getting involved is located at each organization’s website: www.tubman.org and www.clcmn.org. Or, true to form, if you’re interested, Lamm Bachman offered to field any calls. After all, to get involved and make a difference, all you have to do is ask.