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Continued: Gail Rosenblum: 2-1-1 responds to growing need for legal help

  • Article by: GAIL ROSENBLUM , Star Tribune
  • Last update: February 20, 2014 - 9:26 AM

This leaves massive numbers of the low-income shut out of the legal system, or at least forced to go it alone. In Hennepin County in 2012, for example, neither party used an attorney in 95 percent of child custody cases, 66 percent of child support cases and 94 percent of domestic abuse cases.

In addition, Krug said, she’s worried about the inherent unfairness if one party has no legal representation and the other does, especially when children are involved. Judges, too, express concern about assuring fairness in these cases, and their capacity to make “fully informed decisions,” Krug said.

“That’s where Call For Justice comes in,” Krug said. “We collaborate with 2-1-1, but we are not 2-1-1. We’re like the oil that helps the machine run more quickly.”

Last Friday, a skilled and calm Vang put some new resources to use. After assisting two callers with free tax filing locations, she spoke with a worried woman facing a difficult landlord dispute. Vang, who also speaks Hmong, asked many questions, listened patiently and ultimately led the caller to several legal resources.

The caller was grateful, as is Krug to have found her way to this sterling partnership. “In our world of screens and telephone trees, within 15 seconds of calling 2-1-1, you talk to a human being,” she said.

“All of these people are excellent at what they do, offering folks in crisis some measure of humanity and knowledge. That combination is incredibly powerful.”

gail.rosenblum@startribune.com

612-673-7350 • @grosenblum

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