The Justice Legal Center

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 have been given a unique opportunity to establish and operate independent practices on the premises at CFJ’s main headquarters at 753 Fairfield Ave., Bridgeport for a period of two years.

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.

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.

Our Team

Jennifer Ferrante, Esq.

Jennifer Ferrante, Esq., is CFJ’s Legal Incubator Coordinator. Attorney Ferrante is experienced in both private practice and 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.

2017-19 JLC Attorneys

The JLC is pleased to have selected five Connecticut licensed practitioners for its inaugural class of incubator attorneys.

Larissa Johnson, Esq.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.

Ross W. Hakala, Esq.Ross W. Hakala, Esq.

Ross W. Hakala, Esq. is a 2016 cum laude graduate from Quinnipiac University School of Law. During law school, Attorney Hakala interned with the appellate division of the Office of the Public Defender, worked in the law school’s Low Income Taxpayer Clinic, and led the yearly Volunteer Income Tax Assistance clinic in Hamden, CT. After being admitted to the bar he worked in corporate law before departing to make a more personal impact with individual clients in the fields of immigration, criminal defense, and personal injury. He is a member of the American Immigration Lawyers Association, the Connecticut Bar Association, and the Greater Bridgeport Bar Association.

Clarissa Lee PhotoClarissa 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.

Tamara J. Titre PhotoTamara J. Titre, Esq.

Tamara J. Titre, Esq. is a 2014 graduate of Michigan State University College of Law, where she participated in the Small Business and Nonprofit Law Clinic. During law school she served as an intern at the Office of the State’s Attorney in Bridgeport, the Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities in Hartford, and the Michigan Office of the Attorney General. Following law school, Attorney Titre served as a Temporary Assistant Clerk at the Superior Court in Bridgeport. She currently works as an Assistant City Attorney handling FOIA compliance. In 2017, Attorney Titre founded her practice through the JLC, and intends to focus her practice in the areas of family, immigration, probate and wills/estate matters.

For further information on becoming a JLC client, mentor or attorney, or to request an application for the 2019-2021 program, please contact Jennifer Ferrante at jferrante@centerforfamilyjustice.org.