Throughout winter quarter, four paralegal degree students in Gabrielle Reule’s Real Estate Law class at Minnesota School of Business-Lakeville volunteered their time with HOME Line, a nonprofit organization focused on tenant advocacy. The applied learning experience allowed the students to assist with staffing a phone hotline for tenants who have questions regarding their legal rights.
Paralegal degree students Jennifer Brizius, Brad Karsten, Stephanie Rued and Dani Szluzacek attended a volunteer training held at William Mitchell College of Law, where they spent seven hours learning a great deal about Minnesota landlord and tenant law. In addition, HOME Line invited the students to their Minneapolis office for an orientation session where they had the opportunity to listen to attorneys answer calls from tenants. During the orientation, the students also learned how to fill in client forms and received a tour of the office.
Students spent several hours throughout the quarter answering tenant calls and providing advice regarding rental issues. The HOME Line staff attorneys were available to provide answers to the legal questions the students received so they could pass along the advice to the tenants. The students came to realize the office atmosphere was fun and laid back, but was a great learning experience.
“I have learned so much about tenant law just by talking to people about their problems,” Jennifer Brizius said. “It has been mutually beneficial because I get to help people and learn in a hands-on way. I really enjoy going to HOME Line because the staff attorneys know my name and are happy to have volunteers that enjoy being there. I am grateful for this opportunity to expand my education while helping out a worthy cause.”
The experience with HOME Line also incorporated many of the skills the students are learning within the classroom in a very real-world way. By being directly exposed to clients in need of legal advice, the students were able to practice what is ahead for them following graduation.
“The experience volunteering at HOME Line has provided the students with invaluable, hands-on learning where they have gained knowledge of Minnesota’s landlord and tenant laws, while also helping tenants who would have nowhere else to turn,” said Gabrielle Reuele, paralegal program chair at Minnesota School of Business-Lakeville.