A third-year student’s work to help small businesses and people of modest income recently earned her recognition from the Minnesota State Bar Association. Adina Florea received the MSBA’s Volunteer Law Student Award, part of the 2012 Bernard P. Becker Awards for Legal Services Staff and Volunteer Law Students.
Much of Florea’s work has been with the William Mitchell Self-Help Clinic, sponsored by the Minnesota Justice Foundation (MJF), where she works with low-income clients to help them expunge criminal records. Last year she and fellow third-year student Brittany Lawonn raised more than $20,000 to fund five summer Public Interest Law Fellowships for William Mitchell students.
“The Self-Help Clinic drew me in because of the opportunities to interact with real people dealing with real problems right off the bat in my first semester of law school,” she says. “Under the guidance of volunteer attorneys and more experienced 2Ls and 3Ls, I learned about the criminal expungement processes in the different Minnesota counties, sitting down with patrons, learning about their needs, and finding solutions.”
As an MJF volunteer, Adina has also worked at the Housing and Conciliation Court Clinic at Ramsey County District Court and the Minneapolis Project Homeless Connect. She’s also helped small businesses on University Avenue, advising them on the impacts of the Central Corridor light rail construction project.
“That was an extraordinary opportunity for me to become familiar with my community, and help local businesses become aware of the legal and logistical challenges a project of that size would bring,” she says. “My work had immediate practical benefits, and over the course of a year before the construction on University Avenue began, I and other volunteers talked with business owners along the entire stretch of the Avenue, providing them with legal and business-oriented resources to cope with the long-term construction project.”
Florea, who is a native of Romania, plans to graduate in December. She receives $350 for winning the award.