LASNEM News & Updates
August 2021

Gwen Updegraff Retires from LASNEM

LASNEM Summer Law Clerks

LASNEM Eviction Response

Gwen Updegraff Retires from LASNEM
Senior staff attorney, Gwen Updegraff, has retired from Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota after 33 years of zealous advocacy on behalf of clients, mentoring numerous staff throughout the years, impacting local and statewide policies through litigation, and embodying the true meaning of a "Legal Aid Lawyer."

Gwen was recently awarded the "MSBA Benard P. Becker: Legacy of Excellence Award." The Legacy of Excellence Award is given to a nominee who has demonstrated a career-long commitment to excellence in the legal services field.

Tiffany Doherty-Schooler, Director of Advocacy, says, "Don't let her years of experience and success fool you - Gwen still represents each client with the same vigor and passion that I imagine she had when she first started. Her co-workers use the term "righteous indignation" to describe the energy and fight that Gwen brings to work each and every day.
It would be impossible to show the true impact of Gwen's work over 33 years. It is staggering to consider how many families she helped to maintain or secure housing, how many children were raised with more stability, and the thousands of clients who slept better at night because they knew Gwen Updegraff was fighting on their behalf."

LASNEM celebrated Gwen and her amazing career on July 30, 2021. We will truly miss her and it will not be the same without her here. Thank you for all you have done, Gwen!
We wish Gwen the best in her well-deserved retirement!
The Minnesota Legal Services Coalition (“The Coalition”), providers of justice to people in poverty throughout Minnesota, received $3.5 million Federal CARES Act funding from the State of Minnesota to provide Reach Justice Minnesota. Reach Justice Minnesota is a series of initiatives that leverage technology and emergency staffing to help protect Minnesotans’ basic civil and human rights in the face of an unprecedented emergency and disaster. There is rising demand for civil legal aid all over Minnesota as a direct result of the public health and economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Read the full Reach Justice Press Release here.
The COVID-19 pandemic and public health emergency have moved the legal system virtual, creating a digital divide that has disproportionately impacted the communities served by Minnesota Legal Aid. Access to the legal system and a chance at justice is only available to those with the means and resources to use technology.

Legal kiosks are one initiative of Reach Justice Minnesota. Legal kiosks are computers stationed in over 250 community locations across Minnesota offering the public the ability to apply for civil legal aid services, access legal resources, and, in some cases, attend online meetings and remote court hearings in privacy.

You can find more information and kiosk locations near you at Read the full Legal Kiosk Press Release here.
Another initiative of Reach Justice Minnesota includes four Justice Buses. Justice Buses are mobile legal aid offices that will travel to rural areas, bringing with them the ability to meet people where they are. Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota, Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota, Mid-Minnesota Legal Aid, and Southern Minnesota Rural Legal Services each have a Justice Bus.

If you would like to request the LASNEM Justice Bus attend an outreach or community event, please complete the request form and we will be in touch with you!
On July 29, 2021, leaders of the Minnesota Legal Services Coalition were joined by Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court, Lori Gildea, and Minnesota Attorney General, Keith Ellison, for a press conference and the official launch of the Justice Buses at the Minnesota State Capital!

Take a few minutes and watch the recording of the Justice Bus Press Conference!
LASNEM Summer Law Clerks
Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota (LASNEM) and Legal Services of Northwest Minnesota (LSNM) partnered this summer to have summer law clerks work on the Reach Justice Minnesota project in northern Minnesota as a collaborative team.

LASNEM was fortunate to have Brooke Trottier (far right) and Ben Gleekel (second from the left) work with LASNEM this summer!

Brooke will be a 3L at St. Thomas School of Law this year and was part of the Rural Summer Legal Corps through Equal Justice Works (EJW). Ben will be a 2L at the University of Minnesota Law School and was part of the Summer Fellowship Program through Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF).

This summer, Brooke and Ben had a significant role in assisting with the Legal Kiosk and Justice Bus projects at LASNEM.

Thank you for all of your hard work at LASNEM! We wish you all the best in your upcoming year at law school!
LASNEM Eviction Response
In response to the anticipated rise in evictions, LASNEM has collaborated with justice partners across the 11 county service area to create a coordinated response to preventing homelessness stemming from the pandemic. During this time, LASNEM is committed to advising and representing as many tenants as possible to help maintain stable housing for families and individuals in Northeastern Minnesota.
Tenants facing eviction can apply for rental help funds at and contact LASNEM directly at 800-933-1112 to request legal services.
LASNEM is hiring!

Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota (LASNEM) seeks to fill the position of managing attorney at its Brainerd office. This individual will manage both the Brainerd and Pine City offices. These offices provide civil legal services to eligible individuals in Aitkin, Crow Wing, Pine, and Kanabec counties, as well as portions of Cass County.

The deadline to apply is August 25, 2021. Find more information and how to apply here.
Serving Aitkin, Carlton, Cass, Cook, Crow Wing, Itasca, Kanabec,
Koochiching, Lake, Pine and St. Louis counties.