603 Legal Aid has hired Emma Sisti as the new Pro Bono Manager. Sisti currently works as an attorney in the Concord office of the New Hampshire Public Defender, a position she has held for 15 years.
The Pro Bono Manager position is an all-new role that will contribute to the growth of 603 Legal Aid, which was formed in June from the merger of the Legal Advice and Referral Center (LARC) and the Pro Bono Program of the NH Bar Association.
“Emma will bring great energy to our new program, and obviously has demonstrated a tremendous commitment to helping low-income individuals achieve access to justice,” said Executive Director Sonya Bellafant.
Working as a public defender, Sisti has seen how small obstacles can create long term problems in someone’s life, including eventual involvement in the criminal justice system.
“If a person misses court because they didn’t receive the notice, or because a ride fell through, a default will issue and that could result in the individual losing a driver’s license,” she explained. “If they lose a driver’s license, someone who needs to get to work will almost always get stopped for driving with a suspended license. If we can enroll the defense bar into programs assisting individuals in resolving defaults, we can save them from losing their house, or losing their children. People don’t realize how quickly something like this can snowball unless you’ve seen it happen.”
The criminal annulment clinic is another spot where Sisti believes 603 Legal Aid can bring in new criminal defense attorneys who will accept pro bono cases.
“We’ll be offering expanded training and resources to attorneys in an effort to get them to volunteer more, because if they feel like they are supported by the program then they are going to be more likely to volunteer.”
603 Legal Aid is a private nonprofit law firm that provides free legal services to eligible, low-income people in New Hampshire. Its attorneys and paralegals provide legal advice by telephone in areas of civil law. 603 Legal Aid offers legal representation by on-staff attorneys as well as referrals to private attorney volunteers.