Legal Assistance of Olmsted County celebrating 50 years of service
Nonprofit legal service provider continues to see need for support after five decades of helping Olmsted County residents.
ROCHESTER — Legal Assistance of Olmsted County is marking five decades of providing meaningful access to justice to people who need it most.
Since 1973, volunteer lawyers, board members and staff with LAOC have helped thousands of people through difficult life events — eviction, domestic violence, custody disputes — ensuring poverty does not stand in the way of having a legitimate voice in the legal system.
Legal Assistance of Olmsted County is one of only two single-county legal organizations in Minnesota helping people in poverty and those who are marginalized resolve critical life-altering legal issues.
“The legal assistance that LAOC provides to those in poverty is critical to our community,” LAOC Executive Director Karen Fairbairn Nath said in a statement regarding the anniversary. “Our purpose is to improve legal outcomes and stability for families and individuals living in poverty in the community. Providing civil legal aid services strengthens and stabilizes not merely the individual and the family, but the community as a whole.
“There is no doubt that the impact of providing legal aid has a deep, far reaching and lasting impact on the individual and family and has a ripple effect to the community itself as a whole. This community is only as strong as its weakest link.”
To recognize five decades of service, LAOC will host a ribbon-cutting with the Rochester Area Chamber of Commerce at 4 p.m. March 23 at at 1700 N. Broadway Ave., Suite 124.
LAOC is also marking its 50th anniversary with a year-long fundraising campaign, with the goal of raising $50,000 to support the critical work it does in the community. Though LAOC was able to assist more than 2,400 people in 2022, the organization continues to experience a waitlist.
“Now more than ever legal aid is critical for those in need,” Nath said. “The pandemic impacted our communities of color, especially those in poverty, disproportionately. The incredible increase in applications to LAOC since March 2020 reflects that.”
Donations to Legal Assistance of Olmsted County can be made online at loacmn.org/give.