New Bedford residents who can't afford a lawyer could have an answer thanks to UMass Dartmouth.

City and University officials gathered downtown on Monday to celebrate expanding the UMass Law Justice Bridge program from Boston to New Bedford.

The program provides recently licensed law school graduates with mentors and law offices while they gain real case experience. The young Justice Bridge layers only help clients with low income, who can't afford the typical legal services cost.

The Justice Bridge doesn't handle criminal cases, however. The young lawyers only handles civil issues like child custody and housing cases.

UMass Law Dean, Mary Lu Bilek says the Justice Bridge puts responsiblity on the Justice Bridge layers' shoulders.

"So, no one's made up a hypothetical. There aren't pretend facts. These are real people in real situations, and that just creates an optimum learning experience," Bilek tells WBSM News.

Bilek says program was made possible by a three-year $225,000 grant by Bristol County Savings Bank.

Bristol County Savings Bank President, Pat Murray says it was an easy decision to fund a program helping low-income residents in need of legal services.

First-year attorney and current Justice Bridge lawyer, Marcus Farro says the program taught him about effective legal advocacy, and dealing with an under-represented population.

The New Bedford Justice Bridge office is located at 257-259 Union Street in downtown.

The program has handled about 1,700 civil cases since launching in Boston last year.

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