The Justice Legal Center, Connecticut’s first legal incubator, is recruiting its second class of attorneys interested in establishing private law practices committed to social justice and legal counsel to victims of domestic and sexual violence.
The JLC launched its inaugural class of five attorneys in Jan. 2016 at The Center for Family Justice, the Bridgeport-based nonprofit which provides crisis and supportive services to victims of domestic and sexual violence from the communities of Bridgeport, Easton, Fairfield, Monroe, Stratford and Trumbull.
Since then, this innovative program, part of a growing national trend, has provided its clients with hundreds of hours of pro or low bono legal services and its member attorneys with more than 92 client referrals.
“We are proud of the work we are doing to bring justice to so many victims of domestic and sexual violence who so often need and deserve legal representation,” said Debra A. Greenwood, President & CEO of The Center for Family Justice. “We are excited about the opportunity to bring in a new class of attorneys into our incubator who share our commitment to social justice through this innovative approach to delivering legal services.”
To build on its success and expand its reach, the JLC is currently recruiting an additional five to join its incubator in early 2019. The attorneys must be licensed to practice in Connecticut and show a demonstrated interest in creating an economically-viable solo practice committed to social justice work.
Greenwood noted that the lack of access to affordable legal counsel is a challenge that many CFJ clients have identified as a primary 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 experience in their efforts to overcome abuse, trauma and violence.”
The lawyers selected for the JLC team, who come from a variety of professional and legal backgrounds, receive subsidized office space in the lower level of CFJs headquarters as well as basic office and technology support.
They 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 the JLC is Connecticut’s first legal incubator, the business model represents a growing trend in the legal profession. Since the first legal incubator was established in 2007, the American Bar Association estimates that more than 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.
Shortly after CFJ opened its legal incubator, Connecticut’s second legal incubator, the Connecticut Community Law Center, was established at the University of Connecticut’s School of Law.
Each attorney who joints the JLC signs a two-year contract be part of the incubator project.
Funds to launch the JLC were provided, in part, from a generous grant from the Leir Family Foundation.