Name: Mónica Dooner Lindgren
Title: Poverty law attorney, specializing in immigration and family law
Education: B.A., Hispanic Studies, Spanish, St. Olaf College; J.D., Hamline University School of Law
Mónica Dooner Lindgren says being the first Latina to serve as president of the Ramsey County Bar Association is a humbling experience.
Dooner Lindgren attributed the achievement to “many strong Latinx legal professionals and mentors who not only believed in me, but also paved the way for me and so many others.”
“We have a vibrant Latinx legal community in Ramsey County and across Minnesota,” she said. “I look forward to highlighting the diversity that our communities bring to the legal profession.”
Dooner Lindgren has worked with Southern Minnesota Regional Legal Services for 10 years as a bilingual and bicultural family law attorney and more recently in immigration law.
As an adopted person from Colombia and adoptive parent, she also advocates for the rights of adopted persons and finding permanent homes for older Colombian children in the foster care system.
Q: Best way to start a conversation with you?
A: By first establishing a personal relationship. I enjoy getting to know people and learning what they are passionate about. Discovering connections and what we may have in common is fascinating to me.
Q: Why did you go to law school?
A: To help people, specifically by being a voice for individuals who often feel voiceless. I thought being a lawyer would be an impactful way to accomplish this. As the first person in my family to graduate from college and law school, I have felt an important responsibility to make a difference in our communities, especially in Minnesota’s Latinx community. I know that our diverse community does not have the same access to our legal system and wanted to help bridge this gap in access to justice.
Q: What books are you reading?
A: Any article or publication related to racial equity, child advocacy, adoption advocacy and policy, and politics sparks my interest.
Q: What’s your pet peeve?
A: When people make assumptions that are so far from the truth. Not being organized, when things are out of order.
Q: Best part of your work?
A: Empowering my clients. Helping my clients move from a very difficult period of their lives to a point that allows them to live independently, free from abuse and able to provide opportunities for their family without fear. While I may empower my clients, they are the ones who empower me. Many of my clients are Latinx immigrant victims of violence, who are monolingual in a language other than English. Providing bilingual and bicultural legal services to clients is at the heart of what I do. Giving people the knowledge and legal advice to help them to make their own decisions is extremely satisfying. I love applying the law to create the best solution for my clients that will be impactful to them and their children for many years to come.
Q: Least favorite?
A: When I am not able to assist a client obtain the legal outcome they had hoped for. Or, when there is no legal remedy available. It is difficult to tell clients that I am not able to assist them, when most often clients are already seeking legal services with limited options.
Q: Favorite activity away from work?
A: Spending time with my family, traveling, running. I am a part of Grupo de Danzas Colombianas – the only Colombian Folklore Dance Group in Minnesota
Q: Legal figure you most admire?
A: Justice Sonia Sotomayor — the first Latina United States Supreme Court Justice.
Q: Misconception that others have about your work as an attorney?
A: That as a poverty law attorney, I am not really an attorney. That I am only in it for the money. Most of the attorneys and legal professionals I know have chosen this profession because they want to make a difference in people’s lives. They have seen or have been impacted by injustice and want to eliminate barriers for individuals to have access to justice.
Q: Favorite book, movie or TV show about lawyers?
A: “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit.” “Sonia Sotomayor: My Beloved World.”
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