The Center for Family Justice Opens The Justice Legal Center
Connecticut’s First Legal Incubator Seeks to Bridge the Justice Gap for Domestic and Sexual Violence Victims and Survivors
Bridgeport, Ct—Connecticut’s First Lady Cathy Malloy will be among the dignitaries present for the official grand opening of the Justice Legal Center, Connecticut’s first legal incubator, which will celebrate its recent opening during ceremonies on Wednesday, Feb. 8 at 6 p.m. at The Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport.
The incubator provides an innovative practice model for lawyers seeking to establish economically viable private law practices, while offering legal assistance to victims of domestic and sexual violence in the Greater Bridgeport area.
The JLC launched with a team of five attorneys in private practice as part of the incubator team. Each , attorney will operate independent law practices from CFJ’s headquarters, as part of a collaborative effort to bridge the justice gap for low to moderate income clients. .
As Connecticut’s first Family Justice Center, CFJs team has worked for more than two years to raise funds and plan for the establishment of this legal incubator. It is hoped this incubator will offer CFJ’s clients –all victims of domestic and sexual violence and child abuse—greater access to attorneys who can assist them with their often complex legal needs.
The JLC will also offer its attorney members a creative approach to overcoming some of the challenges of establishing a viable, economically sustainable law practice which incorporates their commitment to social justice.
“We are proud to take the lead in bringing this innovative approach to providing legal services to our clients and the region,” said Debra A. Greenwood, president and CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “It is our hope the Justice Legal Center will serve as a model for how lawyers can provide legal services to those in greatest need of their support while making it possible for them to build a thriving law practice.”
Greenwood noted that the lack of access to affordable legal counsel is a challenge that many of CFJs clients have identified as an obstacle in their efforts to receive justice and rebuild their lives after they have experienced trauma due to domestic or sexual abuse. “It is our mission to help our clients transform from victims to survivors,” she explained. “Creating this incubator is part of a larger vision we have had to fill in the gaps in service victims’ sometimes experience in their efforts to overcome abuse, trauma and violence.”
As part of this legal incubator members of the JLC team, who come from a variety of professional backgrounds, will receive subsidized office space in the lower level of CFJs headquarters as well as basic office and technology support.
They will also receive professional mentorship and training under the direction of CFJ’s Legal Incubator Coordinator, Jennifer Ferrante, JD., an attorney experienced in Pro Bono legal services.
While this is Connecticut’s first legal incubator, the business model is part of a growing trend in the legal profession. Since the first legal incubator was established in 2007, the American Bar Association estimates that some 60 legal incubators have been established across the United States. This trend is expected to grow as more law schools, nonprofits and social service agencies develop legal incubators as a creative approach to meeting the needs of legally underserved populations.
Each of the five attorneys who have joined the JLC have signed two-year contracts to be part of the incubator project. The attorneys, who were carefully vetted by CFJ, must be licensed to practice in Connecticut and have a demonstrated commitment to social justice.
Funds to launch the JLC were provided, in part, from a generous grant from the Leir Family Foundation.