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Tiffany A. Sanders, Pro Se Project, Engelmeier & Umanah, P.A.
Tiffany A. Sanders, Pro Se Project, Engelmeier & Umanah, P.A.

2022 Attorneys of the Year: Tiffany A. Sanders

“One of the hardest things I’ve encountered as a lawyer is litigating against pro se litigants,” Tiffany Sanders says. “You never know what they’re going to do because they’re not trained in the law.” When she found an opportunity to make the process smoother for litigants, attorneys and judges in 2010, she jumped at it.

As a project coordinator at the Pro Se Project, Sanders reports doing “some of the most rewarding work of my career.” While criminal defendants famously have a legal right to an attorney, litigants in civil cases are often on their own. But that doesn’t make the issues they’re litigating any less weighty. “There are lots of important cases with housing, custody disputes, and employment,” Sanders says.

And pro se litigants struggle to find justice. “It’s hard to get to the heart of the matter [in a case] when only one side has an advocate,” Sanders says. Attorneys with the Pro Se Project volunteer their time to work directly with pro se litigants. They provide guidance and legal advice and help their clients hone their arguments.

Sanders’ tenure at the Pro Se Project lasted more than 10 years. During that time, the organization received multiple awards and recognition from the American Bar Association for its contribution to the justice system. She left her position at the project in 2022 and has returned to privately practicing discrimination law.

Her work now focuses on special education students whose schools have discriminated against them. “It’s rewarding work,” Sanders says. “As a mom and a lawyer, you feel double responsibility to these kids.”

Sanders also remains proud of her tenure at the Pro Se Project and “that the FBA chose me to be the steward of the project,” she says. “It was an honor to be a part of it.”

Read more about Minnesota Lawyer’s superb class of Attorneys of the Year for 2022 here.

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