Liberal Arts Alumnus Founds Pro Bono Program Providing Legal Aid To Connecticut Residents
Connecticut residents are heading to their local libraries for pro bono legal assistance through a new program called Lawyers in libraries, founded by RIT alumnus Kyle LaBuff ’06 (psychology).
LaBuff launched the program, which invites people to register for a free 20-minute meeting with a volunteer lawyer, in partnership with the Connecticut Bar Association, in December 2020. The program was created as LaBuff’s Presidential Fellows Project and has since expanded, helping dozens of people each month in five Connecticut counties.
After graduating in 2006, he worked as a guidance counselor for several years before attending law school in University of Dayton. He then practiced the profession of attorney general, practiced real estate law and is now deputy public prosecutor.
The idea of ââlawyers in libraries came to LaBuff long before the COVID-19 pandemic surfaced. But, he says, the program is needed more than ever.
âThe three types of legal inquiries we see the most are landlord-tenant, immigration, and family law like divorce. Given the COVID landscape, the landlord-tenant dominates. People fear being deported. It took up a lot of our time, which we are more than happy to provide, of course. “
So far, LaBuff has recruited 10 volunteer lawyers to join him in staffing the program. They meet in neighborhood libraries once a month to meet as many clients as possible.
The idea of ââproviding pro bono legal services to community members is not new, but it will be Connecticut’s first ongoing program on this scale, LaBuff says. Originally offered in only two counties, Fairfield and New London, the program has now expanded to Danbury, Norwich and Middletown. Next are Litchfield and Waterbury.
LaBuff and his Law Society partners plan to reach Connecticut’s eight counties by the end of 2021.
âWe don’t stop. Once we’re in each county, we’ll move on to bigger cities. And then I have no objection to working with other states to make it regional. But in small steps, we want to make sure we start with a solid foundation.