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MSBA-Solace-Logo

The MSBA seeks to provide places where lawyers work together to support one another.
The new SOLACE program is such a "place."



What is SOLACE?

SOLACE is the acronym for Support of Lawyers/Legal Personnel—All Concern Encouraged. Life is full of challenges and unforeseen events, and sometimes members of our legal community encounter an emergency or crisis that is beyond his or her individual resources. The challenge could arise in many different forms; for example, an ill child that needs a special service, or a solo practice that is destroyed by fire. The MSBA has initiated the SOLACE program to bring the good intentions and resources of over 12,000 lawyers to help solve problems. SOLACE does not guarantee results, it merely lets our members know of the need so they may respond if they are able.

Assistance may range from members offering to provide a family in crisis with meals, clothing after a fire, help with grocery shopping or child care, donating used office equipment, or other helping hand that someone has to offer. The program does not solicit cash donations, but instead allows members to send gift cards, frequent flyer miles, a rare blood type donation, transportation, medical community contacts and referrals, and a myriad of other possible solutions. Members are informed of a crisis situation, and if they are able to respond to that particular situation, they do so directly to the person in need.

The SOLACE program is designed to enable us, as a legal community, to reach out in small but meaningful and compassionate ways to judges, lawyers, court personnel, support staff, and their families who experience some personal tragedy or unexpected misfortune. MSBA membership is not required; the program will assist members and non-members.

The SOLACE program format is simple, but the effects can be significant. Individuals can notify one of the statewide SOLACE Program Coordinators when they learn of a significant life event or tragedy impacting someone in their local legal community due to an unexpected disaster, death, illness, sickness or injury. SOLACE program volunteers will work with the person in need, families or close acquaintances to craft an appropriate email requesting practical assistance, with sensitivity and confidentiality being paramount concerns. The email alert is then sent to all participating MSBA members, and others who request to be on the distribution list, e.g., paralegals, office staff, court staff, etc. In addition, the request is shared with the Federal Bar's SOLACE program to widen the reach.

Who qualifies for assistance through SOLACE?

SOLACE is designed to help those in our legal community. Judges, lawyers, court personnel, paralegals, legal assistants, legal administrators, law students and their respective families are eligible for assistance through SOLACE. Membership in the MSBA is not required.

Who receives SOLACE emails?

All members of the MSBA will receive SOLACE emails except those individuals who have opted out of SOLACE emails. The option to be removed from SOLACE emails will appear at the end of each email. In addition, the MSBA is coordinating efforts with the Federal Bar Association who also has a SOLACE program and potentially additional individuals interested in responding to SOLACE requests.

Will I be asked for money?

No, SOLACE will not solicit cash contributions and will not accept money. The intention of SOLACE is to tap into the legal community’s network of contacts and their resources. Often what is needed are in-kind donations or non-monetary assistance such as transportation, housing, or a medical referral. In some instances, a gift card donation may be appropriate; in that event, gift cards can be sent directly to the beneficiary or a designee. Any items donated will be sent directly to the person in need by the member donor.

How is SOLACE funded and administered?

SOLACE is a program of the Minnesota State Bar Association. The program is run through the volunteer committee with very limited staff support. The program relies solely on the goodwill and contributions and assistance provided directly to persons in need. The MSBA itself will not fund requests.

How may I submit a request for SOLACE assistance?

To submit a request for SOLACE assistance for yourself or another member of the legal community, please fill out the SOLACE request form or send an email to SOLACE@mnbar.org, briefly identifying and describing the crisis and needs. The request will be reviewed by the Committee to ensure that it fits within the peramaters of the SOLACE program. A member of the Committee will then respond to you regarding next steps.

If I have a need and make a request through SOLACE, will my confidentiality be maintained?

Confidentiality is of paramount concern. If you have a need, a SOLACE volunteer will work with you to write an email that explains the need and maintains your confidentiality. You will need to provide contact information for potential donors, but you may use an anonymous email address for this purpose if you are concerned about confidentiality. Depending on the nature of the request, you may also wish to designate a family member to receive the SOLACE responses.
 
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Kristin Haugen

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Randy LaNeave

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Sonia Miller-Van Oort

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Judge Heidi Schellhas