On January 25 and 26, the Connecticut Bar Association (CBA) Pro Bono Committee and Statewide Legal Services of CT held a virtual Free Legal Advice Clinic where 27 attorney volunteers met with 63 clients over Zoom meetings. Prior to the clinic, 14 volunteer law students completed client intake forms and asked follow-up questions to help the attorneys prepare for the meetings and provide the best possible legal advice.
On the days of the clinic, the volunteer attorneys provided free legal guidance to the clients in the areas of family law, landlord/tenant law, immigration law, tax law, fraudulent business or consumer debt, bankruptcy, employee rights/unemployment, and pardons. Nine law students were able to sit in on the meetings to learn more about the process of providing pro bono services.
“Because of the efforts of the CBA pro bono team and volunteer attorneys, there are 63 Connecticut residents whose burdens are lighter after receiving free legal advice through the clinic,” said CBA President-elect and Pro Bono Committee Chair Daniel J. Horgan. “The CBA will continue these much-needed services as we work together to help close the access to justice gap.”
In October of 2021, the CBA hired Attorney Jennifer Shukla for the newly created position of Director of Access to Justice Initiatives. With an increased capacity to pursue access to justice initiatives, the CBA’s virtual Free Legal Advice Clinics are now planned to take place on a quarterly basis, with the next clinic scheduled for April 26 and 27. More information on the upcoming clinic, including registration for potential clients and attorney volunteers, can be found at ctbar.org/freelegaladviceclinics. Other opportunities to participate in pro bono work through the CBA include CBA Pro Bono Connect, CT Free Legal Answers, and Lawyers in Libraries. You can learn more about these opportunities at ctbar.org/probono.
“The Connecticut Bar Association understands the significant fiscal challenges that prevent many Connecticut residents from acquiring professional legal advice,” stated CBA President Cecil J. Thomas. “In response, we have maintained a longstanding commitment to increasing access to justice for those who are economically disadvantaged. In the last several years, we have significantly expanded our free legal assistance programs, using new technology to facilitate these impactful connections between our dedicated volunteers, and the members of the public who need legal advice. With the efforts of our new Director of Access to Justice Initiatives, Jennifer Shukla, we are poised to continue the expansion of these vital programs for the future.”
Thank you to all those who volunteered at this important event that supports the public’s access to legal representation. CBA members that participated in the winter Free Legal Advice Clinic include:
Justin M. Ahern, John H. Aldrich, Dana R. Bucin, Patrick D. Coughlin, Ann-Marie DeGraffenreidt, Joshua Devine, Wendy D. DiChristina, Garlinck Dumont, Thomas G. Egan Jr, Marc T. Finer, Paul Garlinghouse, Joel Grafstein, Angela Haen, Eric Hoffman, Ronald D. Japha, Adam Laben, John M. Letizia, Julie A. Moscato, Deborah Noonan, Erin O'Neil-Baker, Don Philips, Charlotte Ricketts, Theresa R. DeGray, Melvin A. Simon, Paige M. Vaillancourt, Russell Zimberlin, M. Nawaz Wahla, Kenneth E. Caisse, Craig Coulombe, Matthew Forrest, Betsy DeBlieux, Lindsay A. Alfano, Clare Hebert, Kassie L. Boucher, Emily P. Leen, Santanna N. Rocha, Ridhika Kartan, Lucy Lundgren, Sarah Frostbutter, Jenna Bator, Chelsea Connery, Corey Thomas, Stefanie McArdle, and Lillianna M. Baczeski.