Excellence Awards 2023: Dee Baskin

2023-06 Baskin Banner

Dee Baskin was awarded the Excellence Award for for Improving Access to Justice. As the executive director of LRAP, Baskin has been a behind-the-scenes champion for legal aid attorneys seeking public service loan forgiveness. Baskin has helped Minnesota attorneys navigate each pause on student loan payments through articles, CLE presentations, and social media updates.  

1. What has been a meaningful moment in your work or pro bono service?

I really love stories from Loan Repayment Assistance Program of Minnesota recipients (LRAP)—whether they’re personal stories or stories about the clients they help. LRAP attorneys are the human embodiment of compassion and resilience. I’m grateful to work for them and with them every day, and my work is immensely meaningful because of them.

I’m not sure if people realize how small and mighty we [LRAP] are. 

2. What do you wish more attorneys knew about LRAP?
I’m not sure if people realize how small and mighty we are. With a one-person staff and a bunch of passionate volunteers, we support about 50 attorneys each year, who, together, serve about 10,000 low-income clients each year. We offer financial assistance as well as hands-on help to navigate the complex student loan landscape. And we do all of this with a budget under $200,000 per year.

3. Who is a legal hero/mentor to you?
Erin Keyes (former Dean of Students at the University of Minnesota Law School) is the main reason I’m here today. I was honored that Erin moderated this year’s CLE panel, which featured LRAP recipients Abigail Hencheck and Julia Zwak, and Associate Justice Natalie Hudson talking about the importance of mental health for pro bono and legal aid practitioners. Erin is fierce, full of heart, and the kind of public servant I strive to be.

4. How would you like to see the legal profession or our local legal community change?
I would love to see the legal profession embrace different kinds of technology more fully. I really appreciated the recent bar association event about ChatGPT, and I hope that kind of learning and engagement continues on a large scale. There will always be “the next new thing that will change the profession.” It’s better to harness it early on, rather than reacting to it later on.

5. What do you do to unwind and recharge from your work?
It takes a village! I have a top-notch therapist and acupuncturist. I meditate and practice Pranic Healing (an energy healing modality anchored in Traditional Chinese Medicine) on myself multiple times a week. I also enjoy time with friends, especially when we’re doing things with nature, creatures, and/or art. I do a lot of things to take care of myself so I can offer my best to others.

Managing Editor
Elsa Cournoyer

Executive Editor

Joseph Satter