The Connecticut Community Law Center, an initiative of UConn School of Law and the Hartford County Bar Association, is a postgraduate program for recently admitted lawyers that helps them develop sustainable legal practices to help bridge the civil “justice gap” in the Greater Hartford Community. It provides reasonably priced legal help to people who traditionally have been underserved by the justice system: low- and moderate-income individuals who do not qualify for free legal services but cannot afford to pay high hourly rates.
The center is located in William F. Starr Hall on the UConn Law campus, 45 Elizabeth Street, Hartford, Connecticut.
The Connecticut Community Law Center provides office space and support for solo practitioners as they establish their law practices. The subsidized working environment allows them to provide legal services at a modest cost to low- and moderate-income clients.
Lawyers who establish solo practices at the Connecticut Community Law Center are members of the Connecticut Bar in good standing and insured. The lawyers work with the support and guidance of volunteer mentors from the practicing bar and UConn School of Law. They typically spend 24 months at the center, learning skills necessary to manage a successful practice while committing themselves to the highest degree of ethics, professionalism and advocacy.
Tom Eisenmann is a 2016 graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law, where he focused on employment law. Before establishing his independent law practice at the Connecticut Community Law Center, Eisenmann had a multifaceted career in human resources roles, serving employers and clients in biotechnology, financial services, information technology and academia. Over that time, he developed expertise in executive recruitment and compensation, Fair Labor Standards Act and Affirmative Action Plan compliance, retirement plans, relocation management, and employment related immigration. Eisenmann plans to focus his law practice in the areas of probate/elder law, family law, employment and immigration. He started his professional life as a middle school and high school teacher in New York City.
Erica Leff is a 2018 graduate of the City University of New York School of Law. While in law school, she was part of the Defenders Clinic at CUNY, which provides legal representation to defendants in criminal cases. She served as an intern at the Public Defender’s Office in Derby, Connecticut, representing clients with misdemeanor and felony matters at their arraignments. Leff also volunteered at Pace Women’s Justice Center in Westchester County, New York. In her position there, she advocated for victims of domestic violence and succeeded in petitioning the court for Orders of Protection. Before starting her own law practice, Leff worked as a Temporary Assistant Clerk at the criminal court in Milford, Connecticut. Since leaving her position at the court, she has started her own law practice and is accepting family, housing, and criminal matters. Leff lives in Suffield, Connecticut, with her husband.
Santolo Odierna is a May 2016 graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law and is admitted to the bar in the State of Connecticut, United States Court for the District of Connecticut, and the United States Tax Court. Odierna started his own firm as a part of the Connecticut Community Law Center in March 2017. He is now an alumnus member of the CCLC and an Associate Attorney at Brown Paindiris & Scott, LLP in Glastonbury, CT. He continues to accept referrals from the CCLC for Chapter 7 bankruptcy.
Lynn Marie Perry, a 2014 graduate of the University of Connecticut School of Law, has focused her practice on legal life planning, concentrating on families with dependent children and young adults. In law school, she worked with the Mediation Clinic and concentrated on access to justice issues. She has been a television producer and studio coordinator for more than 20 years and maintains a franchise services business.
Penelope Petzold practices exclusively in the area of special education for families of children with disabilities. She is a graduate of the Quinnipiac University School of Law. She is also a graduate of Wrightslaw’s Institute of Special Education Advocacy through William and Mary Law School and of the Council of Parent Attorneys and Advocates’ New Attorney Training. She has volunteered for SpEdConnecticut, a non-profit agency in Hartford that helps families of children with disabilities, and served as a family faculty member for the Leadership Excellence in Developmental Disabilities program and the Partners in Policymaking program at the UConn Center for Excellence in Developmental Disabilities. She is the proud mother of three children.
Without access to justice, marginalized groups are unable to exercise their rights and are extremely vulnerable to discrimination and abuse. We have an opportunity at CCLC to help people who have traditionally been underserved, which is essential to promoting a fair justice system that is accessible to all.
Director, Connecticut Community Law Center
Eva Jacobson is the Director of the Connecticut Community Law Center. She is deeply committed to working with local organizations to meet the needs of vulnerable populations. She previously worked at the Hartford Public Library for more than three years and represented clients before U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, including naturalization and citizenship matters. She has served on the City of Hartford Commission on Refugee and Immigrant Affairs since 2014, and is currently the chair of the Board of Directors of Charter Oak Cultural Center.
Jacobson worked at Lawyers Without Borders for more than seven years, managing several U.S. Department of State grants ranging from $750,000 to $1.25 million. She implemented trainings in the Latin America and Caribbean Region on mediation and negotiation and subsequently launched, developed, and oversaw large trial advocacy trainings in Africa. The trial advocacy programs taught hundreds of judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers skills to improve the prosecution of human trafficking, domestic violence, and wildlife trafficking crimes.
Outside of her position as director of the Connecticut Community Law Center, she handles family, immigration, criminal, and Social Security disability matters in her own law practice. She is admitted to practice in Connecticut and in the U.S. District Court for Connecticut. She received her JD from UConn School of Law. Before graduating from law school, she completed her Master of Public Administration (MPA) and Certificate in Public and Nonprofit Management at UConn.
The Connecticut Community Law Center thanks Thomson Reuters for its generous support.