Innovative CLE Builds a Bridge between Civil and Criminal Justice

New Orleans -
The LSBA Access to Justice Commission’s Building Bridges and Modest Means Committees hosted Successful Re-Entry: Addressing Legal Needs after Incarceration, a CLE, to recruit and educate volunteer attorneys of the New Orleans Re-Entry Legal Clinic and attorneys listed on the Modest Means Directory.  The CLE programming was designed to provide information on how to assist formerly incarcerated clients with their most pressing civil legal issues, such as obtaining a driver’s license, handling consumer debt collection matters, and more. 

The New Orleans Re-Entry Legal Clinic is operated by the Justice and Accountability Center of Louisiana, The First 72+, and Southeast Louisiana Legal Services, and offers walk-in civil legal assistance once a month to people who have recently returned from incarceration. This free legal aid helps ensure that returning citizens get back on their feet quickly and avoid becoming enmired in legal issues and debt that could ultimately return them to incarceration.

The Modest Means Directory is an online directory that connects attorneys with clients whose income falls in the gap between eligibility for legal aid and ability to afford a full-cost attorney. Attorneys who choose to be listed on the directory offer affordable legal options by way of sliding scale payment, flat fees, or limited scope representation. Because many of the patrons of the Re-Entry Legal Clinic fall into this income eligibility gap and require legal assistance beyond what is provided on site at the clinic, the Directory is used as a resource for these individuals to obtain affordable legal assistance. 

Overall, the session fits into the Building Bridges Committee’s larger goal of “trying to get both sides of the justice system, the civil and criminal side, to come together to better address the legal issues folks caught up in the system face,” Southeast Louisiana Legal Services’ executive director Laura Tuggle explained in her opening remarks. In this way, legal professionals can respond “as a coordinated system to break down policy issues, address systemic barriers, and include direct services to individuals,” with the ultimate goal of ensuring that returning citizens successfully reintegrate into the community rather than returning to incarceration.

Both the Re-Entry Legal Clinic and the Modest Means Directory are seeking attorneys to participate in their programs. If you are interested in volunteering for the clinic, contact Vanessa Spinazola at Attorneys who are interested in being listed on the Modest Means Directory can sign up at

Louisiana State Bar Association
601 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70130
(800) 421-LSBA(5722) / (504) 566-1600