What is Cy Pres? 

Courts throughout the country have applied the cy pres doctrine to award residual class action funds to programs that provide free legal services to people of low income. Courts have found legal aid programs to be appropriate recipients of cy pres funds for two basic reasons:  

1. Funding legal services programs directly or indirectly benefits the members of a particular class  
2. More generally, that the underlying mission of legal services programs for people of low income is consistent with the courts’ overall mission and the purpose of class action lawsuits.  

Why Is this Important? 

In Minnesota and elsewhere, legal aid programs are forced to turn away people who otherwise qualify for their services because of inadequate resources to meet community needs. Cy pres awards offer an important vehicle to leverage legal aid resources and expand legal aid’s ability to help low-income and vulnerable Minnesotans with civil legal problems. 

Who Can Get Awards in Minnesota? 

The Minnesota State Bar Foundation provides a vehicle for receiving cy pres funds and distributing them to civil legal service programs statewide. Its mission is to support access to justice for all Minnesotans, and one of its primary strategies is to provide financial support for legal aid to the disadvantaged. A full list of eligible organizations can be found in the manual above.



Read More in the MSBA Cy Pres Manual

This manual addresses both state and federal law and procedure regarding such awards as well as a full list of potential legal services recipients.