The Justice Legal Center at The Center for Family Justice is Connecticut’s first legal incubator, offering an innovative approach to providing legal services to victims of domestic and sexual violence in need of affordable legal counsel and the justice they deserve.
The JLC opened in January 2017 with its first team of five carefully selected private practice attorneys who received a unique opportunity to establish independent practices on the premises at CFJ’s main headquarters at 753 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport for a period of two years. In January 2019, the JLC admitted its second class of incubator attorneys and a third class followed in 2021.
The JLC reflects a growing trend which has been highlighted by the American Bar Association as an innovative approach to addressing the growing access to justice gap.
We have found too many victims and survivors in need of free or reduced fee legal services are not able to retain counsel because of shortages of legal aid attorneys and private practice attorneys who can take on their cases on a pro bono basis. As a result, already vulnerable clients are often forced to represent themselves in complex legal proceedings.
Since its inception, the JLC has provided more than 300 referrals to its member attorneys. Meanwhile, CFJs clients have in turn received hundreds of hours of free or low-cost legal services.
How the JLC works for CFJ’s clients:
- Active clients of CFJ who are currently working with our advocacy team will be screened by our Civil Legal team to assess their need for legal counsel.
- When a client is deemed appropriate and qualified, they will be referred to a JLC attorney for a consultation.
- The attorney/client relationship and scope of representation is subject to negotiation between the client and the JLC attorney. JLC attorneys are not obligated to accept CFJ clients and clients are likewise free to decline representation.
How the JLC works for attorneys:
- Our JLC attorneys enter into a two-year contract to establish practices on campus at CFJ.
- They receive subsidized office space, support and mentorship in exchange for an agreement to take CFJ referrals and assist clients, when appropriate, on a Pro Bono or reduced fee basis.
- The attorneys are not obligated to represent all referrals and can decline or accept CFJ clients on a case-by-case basis.
- JLC attorneys are also free to retain private clients who are not receiving CFJ services.
Jennifer Ferrante, Esq.
Jennifer Ferrante, Esq., is CFJ’s Legal Incubator Coordinator. Attorney Ferrante is experienced in both private practice and through the extensive Pro Bono work which she has done in both New York and Connecticut. Attorney Ferrante works in close collaboration with Angela Schlingheyde, Esq., who is CFJ’s Director of Civil Legal & Court Advocacy, and a former prosecutor in Miami, Fla.
Incubator Alumni Attorneys
The JLC is pleased to continue its referral relationship with the following incubator alumni:
Alicia R. Kinsman, Esq.
Alicia R. Kinsman, Esq. obtained her JD from Quinnipiac University School of Law in 2010. Prior to opening her solo law practice with the Justice Legal Center, she managed the Immigration Legal Services program at the Connecticut Institute for Refugees and Immigrants, where she worked for 8 years, and where she still provides legal support and training. In her law practice, Attorney Kinsman provides legal assistance to vulnerable immigrants and their families and has focused a large part of her practice on serving and empowering foreign-born victims of domestic violence, sexual assault, human trafficking and other serious crimes. In addition to direct legal service, Attorney Kinsman provides training and support on issues related to immigration and human trafficking, to medical, law enforcement, social services professionals and others across the state. She is a POST certified law enforcement instructor in Connecticut, in the areas of Immigration Law and Human Trafficking. In 2013 Attorney Kinsman was awarded an FBI Field Directors Award and in 2018, the Connecticut Immigrant and Refugee Coalition presented her with the Myra Oliver Award for her work with immigrants and refugees. A Bridgeport native, Attorney Kinsman lives in Monroe with her husband and three children.
Jesse Stricklan, Esq.
A graduate of the University of Michigan Law School, Jesse Stricklan, Esq. formed his nonprofit firm, Justice Gateway Legal Partners, while he was a member of the JLC legal incubator team. After his association with the JLC ended, he went on to serve as legal counsel to an immigration-focused nonprofit in the greater Bridgeport area. He has since relocated to another state.
Larissa Johnson, Esq.
Larissa Johnson, Esq. founded AdLauream, LLC in January 2017 with the goal of helping children in Connecticut achieve their greatest potential in Special Education. She knows the importance of having an education advocate on your side to help you plan and prepare strategies and negotiate for your child. These same strategies can be used to help with school disciplinary matters, including suspensions and expulsions, as well as bullying and cyberbullying in schools in Connecticut. Attorney Johnson graduated from the UConn School of Law in 2008, where she participated in a clinic in mediation with placement at the Family Division in New Haven Superior Court. Attorney Johnson founded her own real estate law firm, which she ran from 2009 to 2014. She then worked for her local Board of Education for five years, where she developed a passion for the educational needs of children.
Clarissa Lee, Esq.
Clarissa Lee, Esq. is a lifelong resident of Connecticut and a 2012 graduate of Quinnipiac University School of Law. While in law school, she authored an article on housing discrimination, served as President and Vice President of several law student organizations and competed in mock trial and moot court competitions. Prior to opening her own practice, Attorney Lee was a Superior Court law clerk who assisted judges with civil, family, housing and child support matters. She also served as Of Counsel at a private firm handling personal injury litigation, criminal and DUI defense, habeas and family law matters. Attorney Lee works to serve the community through various organizations state-wide with a particular focus on the legal needs of underserved young adults. She is currently representing clients in personal injury, criminal and DUI defense, habeas, family, housing and estate matters. She is a certified Guardian Ad Litem and Attorney for the Minor Child.