Alysia Zens receives Scales of Justice Award Alysia (Hensley) Zens, native of Vermillion, was recently awarded the Scales of Justice Award in recognition of her commitment to providing pro bono (free) legal work.
Zens is an attorney in the Health Care and Exempt Organization Practice Groups at Dorsey & Whitney LLP in Minneapolis, MN. Dorsey has over 700 attorneys, is the largest law firm in Minnesota, and is one of the top 50 law firms in the world. Each year Dorsey recognizes a handful of its outstanding lawyers world-wide for their commitment to the law firm's pro bono program.
Zens was recognized primarily for her leadership in the legal clinic the firm sponsors for students enrolled in a special school to help teen parents earn their high school diplomas. The legal clinic was founded by Mark Eastwood in 1995. Eastwood died of cancer earlier this summer. Over the past two years Eastwood mentored Zens and inspired her to take the lead in continuing operation of the legal clinic once Eastwood became sick.
The legal clinic assists students with a wide range of matters, including child support, housing, paternity, foster care issues, employment, consumer problems, and medical assistance matters. In addition to the legal clinic Zens provides pro bono services to a large number of nonprofit and tax exempt organizations. Zens was involved in creating a number of foundations to aide the victims of Sept. 11.
Additionally, Zens has formed and sought tax exemption status for music boosters clubs, elderly housing assistance programs, and community education programs. The firm and the American Bar Association challenge lawyers to commit approximately 3 percent of their working time to providing pro bono work; in 2001, Zens contributed over 11 percent of her working time to providing pro bono work. Zens and her husband Jason reside in Buffalo, MN, 36 miles west of the Twin Cities.