Lawyers get a bad rap, don’t they? There are jokes about sharks, about soullessness. There are shows and movies loaded with back office deals and questionable deeds. But, most lawyers actually work to connect average folks to the law, and to ferry them through our winding and barrier-laden legal system.
Retaining counsel can be expensive, time-consuming, and scary. Going to trial is no picnic, especially when you’re paying by the hour, and even more so if you’re not of the means to sign away thousands of dollars. There are legal aid services, but many only offer help to clients and families who experience extreme poverty, leaving tens of thousands of people in the lower-middle classes with nowhere to turn.
Those barriers to getting legal help have a name. “The Justice Gap” represents the growing population of people who lack the resources to afford a lawyer, but who are not poor enough to qualify for legal aid.
Bruce Wiener, Executive Director and founder of Bridge to Justice, saw that gap and decided to devote his legal career to closing it. After graduating from Fordham Law School, Bruce began his legal career practicing labor and employment law and general civil litigation at a corporate law firm in New York City. In 2009, he relocated to Boulder, CO where he volunteered for Boulder County Legal Services and worked as a staff attorney for the Boulder Law Shop, representing modest means clients in family law and landlord-tenant matters. His experiences there inspired him to do more.
Bruce saw first-hand where the justice gap was growing. Especially in a city like Boulder with a large, affluent population, the families that weren’t out on the streets, or rolling in income had a tendency to fall through the cracks. That meant that many families were prey to landlords, creditors and others who could afford high-priced representation, or completely unrepresented in family law cases leading to heartbreaks and wasted court hours. In 2013, Bruce decided to take closing the justice gap into his own hands. He started Bridge to Justice with the intention of providing affordable legal services to qualifying clients in Boulder County and along the Front Range.
Bridge to Justice serves approximately 300 clients per year, with Bruce leading a team of three full-time attorneys on a mission to turn the justice gap into a distant memory. Bruce’s dedication to defending those with less, and to fighting for their rights, lives and liberties sets a powerful new example for each incoming class of graduating law students, and the legal system as a whole. By following his example, we could see a future where the law works for everyone equally, regardless of means. And we think that’s an undeniably heroic goal.