Written by Heidi Wigdahl

July 9, 2019

MINNEAPOLIS, Minnesota — A new LGBTQ legal clinic is offering free help to transgender people who want to change their names. 

Tuesday, about 50 people came to Robins Kaplan LLP in downtown Minneapolis for the law firm's first free name change clinic. The clinic is in partnership with OutFront Minnesota. 

"I came here because... I have anxiety about paperwork," said Elinor (Ellie) Compton of St. Paul. 

Compton said she's been wanting to legally change her name for awhile. 

"I've been going by Ellie for awhile now but having all of my documents reflect the name that I use, what I consider my actual name at this point, is affirming for me and also makes for fewer awkward situations when I'm handing over my ID at the liquor store or filling out forms or that sort of thing," Compton said. 

About eight attorneys helped people draft legal forms to start the name change process. Appointments lasted between 30 minutes to an hour. 

"It's actually a fairly straight forward process once you know where to find the forms and what forms to use. I think for most people, that first step of finding the correct forms is daunting and can be confusing. So I think today we were able to cut through a lot of that," said Holly Dolejsi, principal attorney at Robins Kaplan. "The other sort of maybe confusing thing or barrier is for minor children. They're not sure if they're allowed to get their names changed and we had some minors here today with their parents and so we were able to do that for them." 

The name change clinic is one of only a few resources like it available in the Twin Cities. 

"You don't need a lawyer to do it. I think for us, what we've been able to do is just make it easier and also then we're there to answer any follow-up legal questions that they may have," Dolejsi explained. 

Dolejsi explained this is only part of the process. Those who attended the clinic will still need to submit it to the court and go before a judge. There's also about a $300 filing fee although some people may qualify for the fee to be waived. 

The next free name change clinic will be on September 13 from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. at the Robins Kaplan offices in downtown Minneapolis. You can also find more information, here

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