LawyerCorps Connecticut is an innovative, one-of-a-kind partnership, comprised of a diverse group of stakeholders focused on common concerns involving the lack of legal representation as an impediment to achieving justice in Connecticut courts.
LawyerCorps Connecticut is “new” only in the sense that it brings together a unique collaboration of otherwise well-established, venerable private organizations, Legal Aid service organizations, and the Connecticut Judicial Branch and its Access to Justice Commission, partnering to address a vital public need not currently being met through existing funding and pro bono hours directed to Legal Aid programs. The LawyerCorps consortium has been established to improve the response to the crisis in civil legal representation by placing lawyers as fellows at the three Legal Aid partner agencies.
LawyerCorps Connecticut was first conceptualized by Chase T. Rogers, Chief Justice of the Connecticut Supreme Court. Chief Justice Rogers shared her vision at an initial February 2013 meeting with the Honorable William Bright of the Connecticut Superior Court, Charlie Gill, Senior Vice President and General Counsel of United Technologies Corporation (“UTC”), Charlsa (Sandy) Broadus, Assistant General Counsel, Litigation at UTC, Brackett Denniston, Senior Vice President, General Counsel of General Electric Co. (“GE”), Steve Eppler-Epstein, Executive Director of Connecticut Legal Services, Jamey Bell, Executive Director of Greater Hartford Legal Aid, and Susan Nofi, Executive Director of the New Haven Legal Assistance Association, Inc.
Fast forward months later, and LawyerCorps Connecticut is now a unique consortium of Connecticut’s venerable Legal Aid programs, the Connecticut Judicial Branch, UTC, GE and the community-based Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, aligned for the purpose of providing strong fiscal management necessary to carry out Chief Justice Rogers’ vision for closing the justice gap. Through the LawyerCorps Connecticut Fund established and administered by the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving, LawyerCorps Connecticut will provide grants for the salaries and benefits of an inaugural class of three Fellows. The Fellows will be carefully chosen and trained by sponsoring Connecticut Legal Aid programs to work alongside Legal Aid career attorneys, managing full-time attorney caseloads for a year.
LawyerCorps Fellows will represent several hundred clients yearly, assisting them across a wide spectrum of urgent civil matters. LawyerCorps Connecticut will have an immediate, measurable impact on helping Connecticut courts run more efficiently by directly increasing Connecticut case staffing capacity with talented lawyers trained and supervised by experienced Legal Aid attorneys.
Key goals of LawyerCorps Connecticut are to:
- Establish a sustainable fund for purposes of increasing the availability of valuable, high-quality legal services to Connecticut’s neediest residents free of charge
- Help raise awareness of the need to close the justice gap in our courts
- Provide attorney Fellows with hands-on courtroom experience, client relations, advocacy and policy skills necessary to help solve real-time problems in Connecticut legal court system
- Spark a lifelong commitment among the Fellows for providing legal services to the less fortunate in our communities
- Enlist new partners to invest in justice, thereby increasing the number of Fellows available to the Legal Aid community, because we all benefit when the court system works
LawyerCorps Connecticut is supported in part by a 2013 Innovation Grant to the Connecticut Access to Justice Commission from the ABA Access to Justice Commission Expansion Project, made possible by funding from the Public Welfare Foundation and the Kresge Foundation.
In addition, LawyerCorps Connecticut gratefully acknowledges generous monetary contributions from our Founding Corporate Partners, the Xerox Foundation, the Barnes Group Inc., PricewaterhouseCoopers, UIL Holding Corporation, the South Asian Bar Association of Connecticut, the Kilman Advisory Group, Sheffield Haworth, and Kelly Managed Legal Services, as well as services kindly donated by RICOH USA, Inc. to support the program’s efforts. We also extend special thanks to Gregory and Nancy Butler, Ivan Dimitrov, Paul Kilman, and Frank Orzo for their substantial financial contributions towards launch of this important initiative.