This session highlights the role of civil legal aid in addressing rural health equity. Civil legal advocates are critical but often unconsidered collaborators in the continuum of health, society and rural community wellbeing. In addition to providing legal resolution for low-income rural residents, legal practitioners often act as trusted liaisons, connecting the concerns of clients to broader networks of health and social service providers.
Michele Statz, PhD is an anthropologist of law and an Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Biobehavioral Health at the University of Minnesota Medical School, Duluth. Dr. Statz is also the PI on a three-year study of rural access to justice across northern Minnesota and Wisconsin. Funded by the National Science Foundation, this research examines how the socio-spatial dimensions of rurality influence legal advocacy and individual and community health.
Robert Friday, JD is a Minnesota District Court Judge in Virginia, Minnesota. Prior to his appointment to the bench he was Director of Advocacy at Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota, where he represented indigent clients in family law and juvenile court matters. Mr. Friday has served as a member of the Consolidated Block Grant Advisory Board, Lawyers Concerned for Lawyers, and the President of the Range Transitional Housing Board of Directors.
Honorable Terrence M. Aronson (retired 2016) was a Minnesota District Court Judge in Virginia, Minnesota for over fifteen years. His primary focus was family law and juvenile protection cases. Prior to his appointment to the bench, Judge Aronson was in private practice and was also a former staff attorney at Legal Aid Service of Northeastern Minnesota.