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Hamline Alumni Lend Legal Support to Bridge Victims

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Robins, Kaplan, Miller & Ciresi is Leading Pro Bono Bridge Consortium

When the Mississippi River bridge fell in August, 13 people died and many dozens more were seriously injured and traumatized. Nearly six months later, bridge victims and their families are still grieving and struggling to put the pieces of their lives back together. Many are facing overwhelming medical problems and expenses. While the State of Minnesota and the National Transportation Safety Board study the bridge collapse and debate a possible victim compensation fund (with a total compensation cap of $1 million to be shared by all victims), the firm of Robins, Kaplan, Miller and Ciresi (RKMC) has formed a pro bono bridge consortium to advocate for the rights of victims.

Hamline alumni and RKMC partners (from right to left) Chris Messerly, Phillip Sief and associate Genevieve Zimmerman are among the cadre of attorneys working on behalf of more than 75 bridge-related pro bono clients. While 20 local firms have joined the consortium, Messerly estimates that RKMC will incur $3 million or more in consortium-related legal costs, such as engaging experts to analyze the bridge collapse findings, as well as countless hours of pro bono time.

"It's going to be expensive and could take years, but this struck the heart of all Minnesotans and it's truly the right thing for us to be doing," said Messerly. "This is why we became lawyers, to provide service to our community. These people desperately need our help and we are honored to be part of the effort to assist them."