On July 21, the UMass Law Justice Bridge program received a $120,000 grant from Bristol County Savings Bank, through its Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation, to bolster the program’s mission of providing quality legal representation to economically disadvantaged clients. Justice Bridge bridges the gap between recent law school graduates seeking to develop law practices and individuals who need access to legal representation yet do not qualify for or are turned away from, free legal aid. The grant, which will be paid out over the next three years, will allow Justice Bridge and UMass Law students and graduates to serve unmet legal needs in the Southeastern Massachusetts region.
“Founded 175 years ago as a community bank, our core principle is to support the neighborhoods where our customers live and work,” said Patrick Murray, President of the Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation and President & CEO of Bristol County Savings Bank. “We’re also celebrating the 25th year since our Foundation was formed and I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than to see firsthand the positive impact UMass Law’s Justice Bridge Program will continue to make throughout the local area thanks in part to this three-year grant.” Murray added that since the Foundation was formed, more than $25 million has been committed to hundreds of different non-profit organizations in the communities the Bank serves.
“UMass Law and Justice Bridge are grateful for the incredibly generous continued support of Bristol County Savings Bank and its Foundation in our combined effort to address unmet legal needs for individuals within our region,” said Eric Mitnick, Dean of UMass Law. “With the support of the Bank, Justice Bridge has served as a critical lifeline for thousands of people right here in our community, and the program cultivates a new generation of lawyers who will continue to impact our local communities for years to come.”
The Bristol County Savings Charitable Foundation was established in 1996 as part of the Bank’s 150th Anniversary celebration. Its purpose is to fund needs that contribute to the economic and the social well-being of the people and institutions located in the greater Taunton/Attleboro Region, the greater New Bedford/Dartmouth Region, the Fall River Region and the Northern, Rhode Island Region, with particular emphasis in the areas of education and literacy, economic development and housing for the low- to moderate-income population. In 2020, the Foundation added an additional area of focus by supporting organizations that are on the frontlines of the pandemic or experiencing hardship as a result. In 2021, the Foundation awarded $2.2 million to various 501(c)(3) organizations.
Justice Bridge was created in 2014 to provide representation to clients who cannot afford traditional market rates while supporting recent UMass Law graduates who wish to develop solo, small firm, or public interest law practices. The program maintains two offices located in Boston and New Bedford. In addition to providing much-needed legal services and launching graduates' careers, Justice Bridge serves as a laboratory for research into best practices, trends, and resources for creating an economically viable model for the delivery of legal services to clients.