Starting law school in the same class, Kevin Sieben and Samuel Edmunds became good friends almost immediately, and they built on that foundation to become law partners in 2013.
“We each have a unique perspective and experience that helps us work together very well as a team,” Sieben said. “That has been a major benefit for our clients.”
When the pandemic became an issue in early 2020, they drew on that teamwork in a new way, by helping people who had lost employment due to COVID and were concerned that a previous criminal conviction might hinder their ability to get work.
They created the “Peacetime Emergency Free Expungement Program,” bringing in their expertise with expungement law and mirroring the criteria of the Minnesota Second Chance Act, which widened opportunities for criminal expungement in Minnesota.
On a completely pro bono basis, Sieben and Edmunds represented those who met strict qualification requirements—individuals who had committed a relatively minor prior crime—and the applications began flooding in. They have received over 100 applications so far, helping many people to pursue employment without fear of their minor convictions getting in the way.
“Many of these people had smaller, lower-level offenses that they probably hadn’t thought about in years, until it became an issue in background checks,” said Edmunds. “We thought this would be something we could do to help during a tough time in the world.”
Although they had paused the program when businesses began to reopen and layoffs weren’t as dramatic, the recent closures and subsequent unemployment surge convinced them to reopen the effort. Much as they’d seen throughout 2020, the applications keep coming in.
“It’s possible the vaccine will help everyone get back to a normal level of business, and when that happens, we’ll likely pause the program again,” said Sieben. “Until then, we’ll offer this as long as there’s a need.”
Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2020 here.
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