Minneapolis (06-28-05): -- The Hennepin County Bar Foundation closed its fiscal year by awarding a record $74,000 in grants to organizations meeting legal needs in the Hennepin County area. Outgoing President Katherine MacKinnon was enthusiastic about the record year in all facets of the organization’s efforts as she thanked the legal community for its support.
The Hennepin County Bar Foundation has a three-pronged mission: 1) Delivering legal services to the poor; 2) improving the administration of justice; and 3) educating the public about the justice system. Grants were awarded to 19 organizations achieving these goals, including such groups as the Indian Child Welfare Law Center, Minnesota Advocates for Human Rights, Centro Legal, Children’s Law Center, and the Council on Crime and Justice. Services supported include immigration and domestic violence education and legal support, the representation of innocent prisoners, support for lawyers in chemical recovery, and legal help for the elderly in traditionally underserved communities. The largest grant, of $30,000, was awarded to Volunteer Lawyers Network for its ongoing programs of legal clinics and representation of economically disadvantaged individuals in Hennepin County.
Funds for the foundation are raised through dues-related donations from many of the 8,000 members of the Hennepin County Bar Association as well as three benefit programs held during the grant year: the annual Bar Benefit held in March, a golf benefit held each summer, and the generous proceeds from the annual Attractive Nuisance Tour (ANT). While the Bar Benefit and golf tournament are annual fund-raisers sponsored by the foundation, the ANT is the independent creation of two young lawyers, Greg Wiley and Craig Sandok, who have chosen to share the proceeds of an evening of rock music between the foundation and another law-related organization each year. An enthusiastic audience enjoyed music by a variety of rock bands — each of which had to have at least one lawyer in the group — as they raised over $20,000 for support of law-related activities.
Another highlight of the Hennepin County Bar Foundation’s year was the participation with the Hennepin County Bar Association and the Volunteer Lawyers Network in an 18-month legal services review task force that focused on new strategic planning for serving the legal needs of Hennepin County communities and culminated in a three-way affiliation agreement among the groups.
MacKinnon expressed her confidence that “the coming year will also be exciting and challenging, offering ever-greater opportunities to impact the justice system through the generous and sustained support of this legal community.”