CFJ legal director named ‘Game Changer’ in state legal honors

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Angela Schlingheyde, JD

BRIDGEPORT — Angela Schlingheyde, J.D.,  director of civil legal and court advocacy services for The Center for Family Justice, was recently honored for her leadership in launching innovative programs to bring free legal services to victims of domestic violence.

Schlingheyde was the featured winner of the annual Game Changer award presented May 12 during the 8th annual Connecticut Legal Awards hosted by the Connecticut Law Tribune, a digital publication which covers the work of attorneys, law firms and justice-related topics in the state.

“We are thrilled that Angela has received this prestigious honor, which celebrates the many ways she has helped CFJ launch and deliver these incredibly important legal programs,” said Debra A. Greenwood, president and CEO of CFJ. “It can be terrifying for victims to face their abusers in court, but being forced to do so without legal representation is even more terrifying. The programs Angela has helped us create have advanced our mission of providing greater safety and emotional security to the victims and survivors we serve. She has truly been a game changer for our agency and our clients because no one should have to face their abuser alone.”

Schlingheyde was recognized for her outstanding leadership in launching two related legal programs which have given victims of domestic violence greater access to justice when confronting their abusers in court. They include the Justice Legal Center, Connecticut’s first legal incubator, and the Pro Bono Legal Center (PBLC), a program CFJ launched in 2019 to offer some of its clients the free services of experienced family law attorneys.

Since its inception, 142 CFJ clients have been referred to the PBLC for legal assistance with a family law matter. The program’s two full-time staff attorneys have provided 1,305 hours of free legal services, saving CFJ’s clients an estimated $482,000 in legal fees. Clients who have benefitted from the program have reported in program surveys they feel safer, more financially secure, and more able to rebuild their lives after experiencing abuse because this legal counsel.

The Justice Legal Center offers private practice attorneys a unique opportunity to practice law on-site at CFJ’s Bridgeport headquarters in exchange for representing some of its clients. Lawyers receive support and mentorship as they launch their practices, while the victims CFJ serves benefit from their expert counsel. Since its inception, several local lawyers have launched independent practices through this two-year incubator program.

A former criminal prosecutor in Miami Dade County Fla., Schlingheyde joined CFJ in 2016.  The Fairfield resident received her undergraduate degree from Boston College and her law degree from the Hofstra University School of Law.

The Pro Bono Legal Center at CFJ relies on the support of grants and donations to help provide the vital services it offers to hundreds of clients each year. To support CFJ and its legal programs visit CenterforFamilyJustice.org or contact CFJ’s Development Director Lisa Labella at 203-334-6154.

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