Denise Rahne

Denise RahnDenise Rahne has been a donor and volunteer attorney with Children’s Law Center of Minnesota (CLC) for almost 20 years, providing full representation to an incredible 17 foster children and youth. Her passion for pro bono work goes beyond representing CLC clients; she is a dedicated advocate for CLC and her firm, Robins Kaplan LLP has been sponsoring CLC at the highest level for many years. This profile, authored by law student volunteer Jasmin Hernandez Du Bois, covers an interview with Denise.

Born and raised in Minnesota, Denise attended the University of Minnesota as a first-generation colleage student for her undergraduate degree in education and was a teacher in her first career. During her 10 years teaching at Patrick Henry, Denise cultivated skills that would make her a pillar of CLC. 

“I learned a lot. I learned that the most effective way to work with children was to work shoulder to shoulder, collaborating and constantly meeting in the middle. And I learned that the best way to help kids is to treat them less as kids and whenever possible like any other person who is developing and evolving in their own way.” 

After graduating with her JD from Mitchell Hamline, she began working at Robins Kaplan, and quickly found her teaching experience was useful in a legal setting and particularly when exploring pro bono opportunities.  

“Robins Kaplan is extremely committed to pro bono efforts in the community, and they encouraged me to find a pro bono area that I liked. Children’s Law Center provided familiarity” she said. As a volunteer, Denise attends hearings, connects with other attorneys and social workers in the community, and provides client counseling. But she recognizes that the cases taken on by CLC can be heart-wrenching and tragic. 

“The struggles my clients face make their success all the more impactful,” she said, “and it’s an honor to be the person beside them through their tribulations and triumphs.” 

Denise took her involvement with CLC a step further, serving two terms on CLC’s Board of Directors, including time as Board Chair. While on the board, Denise participated in committees working on development, volunteer recruitment, and strategic planning. During her time as Chair, CLC was involved with ongoing efforts to lobby for children in the foster system to have more robust access to an attorney. This is especially important for geographic areas that are beyond the organization’s reach. 

When asked what she would say to potential volunteers who are intimidated by volunteering for CLC or doing other pro bono work, she shared the words of a senior attorney at Robins Kaplan that encouraged her to take on a pro bono matter that involved criminal charges against an immigrant mother of four.  

“I remember him telling me, ‘You’re smart. You’re a problem solver. You know more than you think you do, and you’re going to figure this out.’” 

Denise is active in the MSBA's Probate and Trust Law Section as Litigation & Dispute Resolution Committee Co-Chair and has been recognized as a North Star Lawyer for her pro bono involvement. Information on volunteer opportunities with Children’s Law Center can be found on their website,