Justice Tsunami: Legal Issues Now and When Minnesota Reopens

Friday, October 23, 2020
11:00am - 12:30pm CDT

Under stay-at-home orders and social distancing, court systems have slowed or shut down. The moratorium on evictions is preventing homelessness, for now. Across the country, legal aid experts are preparing for a tsunami of legal need that will flow when executive orders end, and courts fully reopen.

Addressing legal issues has always been key to moving people out of poverty. In COVID, the issues are confusing, and the demand is high. Join us to learn how communities are impacted by legal issues and systems in 2020 and the innovative approaches that are emerging for legal services and funding of these services. We’ll also look forward at how pressures from the pandemic and confronting racial disparities are prompting lasting change for the justice system and its long-term funding.

This MCF member briefing is hosted by the Legal Services Funders. Log-in details will be provided in your confirmation email.


Bridget Gernander, Legal Services Grants Manager, Minnesota Supreme Court
Bridget provides funding and policy guidance for civil legal aid programs statewide. She started her legal career as an Equal Justice Works fellow at the Minnesota Justice Foundation before moving to the Minnesota Judicial Branch in 2001. Bridget’s educational background includes a B.S. in political science from the University of San Diego and a J.D. from the University of Minnesota.

Veena Iyer, Executive Director, Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota
Veena leads a staff of 32 and hundreds of volunteers to provide legal representation, educational outreach and advocacy for low-income immigrant and refugee communities. Veena began her career as an Equal Justice Works fellow and staff attorney at Legal Aid Chicago, and during her time as an associate and shareholder at the Nilan Johnson Lewis law firm, she was a pro bono attorney for ILCM, Tubman and Standpoint. Veena is passionate about the important role of legal services in achieving equity and prosperity for our communities.

Larry McDonough, Attorney and Senior Minnesota Counsel with the National Anti-Eviction Project, Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law
Larry helps to coordinate eviction defense and tenant protection programs through training and mentoring attorneys and law students and policy advocacy. Larry has been a housing litigation attorney for more than three decades. He has litigated hundreds of cases in state and federal courts, and contributed to almost all of the landlord and tenant statutes enacted since 1986. Larry co-founded Minnesota’s Annual Housing Law Institute and authored Residential Eviction Defense in Minnesota through many editions.

Cody Nelson, Executive Director, Anishinabe Legal Services 
Cody graduated magna cum laude from the University of St. Thomas School of Law in 2006 and commenced employment at Anishinabe Legal Services shortly thereafter. He is licensed to practice law in Minnesota as well as before the Leech Lake, White Earth, and Red Lake Tribal Courts. Cody has performed executive director duties at Anishinabe Legal Services for over 7 years and has provided legal services directly to program clients for over 13. 

Ahmed Sirleaf, Program Coordinator and Restorative Practices Professional, Youth and Housing Mediation Services; Community Mediation and Restorative Services
Ahmed is a seasoned international development, rule of law, and alternative dispute resolution professional with over a decade of experience in planning and managing complex donor, transitional justice and international human rights programs. Ahmed currently provides services in the areas of in-school-juvenile diversion, housing policy mediation and conflict interventions training. Ahmed is a doctoral student at the University of Minnesota where he earned an MPA in Global Policy and Planning from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs.

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