Minnesota’s Appeals Self-Help Clinic opened its doors to customers for the first time in January. The new advice-only clinic—designed to help unrepresented parties navigate the appellate process—is only the second of its kind in the nation. During this first pilot year, the clinic is being offered on the third Thursday of each month, from 2:30-4:30 p.m., in the State Law Library (within the Judicial Center), and staffed by members of the MSBA Appellate Practice Section.
The idea for the clinic came from our state law librarian, Liz Reppe. She contacted the Appellate Practice Section in 2015 to ask whether members would be interested in helping her put together a clinic to assist pro se parties. Recognizing a great opportunity to put its appellate knowledge to use for the public good, the section enthusiastically agreed.
For almost a year, a subcommittee of the Appellate Practice Section’s Governing Council met with Reppe to plan the details of the clinic and assemble a resource binder for the lawyers who volunteer there. (Thanks to Liz Kramer, Erik Hansen, Katie Barrett-Wiik, Jenn Young, Amy Lawler, and George Norris for serving on that subcommittee.)
Despite receiving little publicity, the Appeals Self-Help Clinic served 12 different parties during its first session in January. The customers fill out intake and evaluation forms that will be used to assess the demand for the clinic, as well as its efficacy, after its first year in operation.