ST. PAUL, Minn. — Changes in immigration policy are prompting some Minnesota lawyers to pursue immigration cases for free.

Cynthia Anderson is the pro bono director at Lindquist & Vennum, a regional law firm in Minneapolis that has about 140 attorneys working on pro bono cases. She told Minnesota Public Radio that more than 10 percent of the firm’s cases in 2016 were immigration-related. She expects that number to rise for this year.

Anderson said many attorneys are motivated in part because they see the basic human rights of others being violated.

“People have come out of the woodwork to work on issues that they may not have been inclined to work on in the past,” Anderson said.

The increased anti-immigration rhetoric has motivated lawyers to pursue more complex immigration cases, said Anne Applebaum, the pro bono director at the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota.

Meghan Elliott, Apogee Enterprises’ assistant general counsel, said the clients she’s worked with have reminded her about why she wanted to become a lawyer.

“I think most people will tell you that they do pro bono because it provides more of a connection to the community that you live in,” Elliott said.

Applebaum said it can make clients feel empowered to know that someone is helping them for no financial gain.

“The person who’s helping to make this reality for me is someone who doesn’t have to do this,” Applebaum said. “They’re not being paid, they’re working above and beyond high-hour jobs and families and other restrictions, and they’re choosing to do this.”


Information from: Minnesota Public Radio News, http://www.mprnews.org