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Connecticut Develops Legal Incubator Program
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Sandi Fong

Summary: Connecticut started their own incubator program with five attorneys eager to get involved with the Center for Family Justice and their clients.

Connecticut has set off on a new path to develop a legal incubator program run through the Center for Family Justice in Bridgeport. Five attorneys have been selected to start the program, including Sandi Fong, a 2015 law school graduate that was admitted to the state bar last fall.

  
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Fong was attracted to the program not only because she wanted to start off with her own firm but also because of the pro bono aspect to the program. She explained, “I always wanted a pro bono element to my practice … so when I saw that part of the trade was to do pro bono, it was a great way to start on the right foot.”

The attorneys, all with varying experience and professional interests, hit the ground running last month with a “boot camp.” They discussed a range of topics including the law and how to deal with domestic and sexual violence victims.

The Center for Family Justice serves six towns in Fairfield County. They provide a centralized location for victims to get the help they need, which is not limited to police assistance and crisis counseling. Affordable legal services were one area that the center did not have real access to and something that clients said they lacked being able to find on their own.

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Officials in Connecticut knew there was a problem for low- and moderate-income individuals finding legal services that was affordable. The legal incubator coordinator Jennifer Ferrante said, “The incubator program is one of those creative solutions to bridge this justice gap to get this massive group of people connected to an attorney who they can afford to take on.” The attorneys that are part of the incubator are part of a commitment to take referrals of clients from the Center For Family Justice.

CEO and president of the Center For Family Justice Debra Greenwood said, “The win for us is helping victims but for the attorneys, they are being provided office space, a phone number, technology, all under one roof.”



The other goal of the program is to get more attorneys working. Ferrante said, “There’s this large group of attorneys out there that don’t have work and want to work. We are trying to bridge this gap. As a result, we’ve attracted business-minded, entrepreneurial-minded individuals who have a passion for social justice … who are interested in working with people who are underserved and have a great need.”

The selected attorneys underwent a vigorous application and interview process. They will stay with the incubator for 24 months before another program comes in, giving the attorneys plenty of time to develop their own client base.

There are around 60 other incubator programs in the country, with the first started in 2007 at City University of New York.

Do you think more law schools should develop their own programs for students and graduates to apply to work in? Tell us in the comments below.

To learn more about other incubator programs, read these articles:

Photo: courant.com



 

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