Meet Our Executive Director
Justine Rakich-Kelly graduated from Western Connecticut University, cum laude, with a BS in Justice and Law Administration. Between college and law school she worked in the legal department at Union Carbide doing corporate divestitures. She earned her law degree from University of Connecticut in 1991. Upon graduating from law school, Justine began her legal career at Koskoff, McMahon & Condon in Plainville, Connecticut. In 1993 the Law Offices of Justine Rakich-Kelly were opened, specializing in juvenile and family law, with a focus on poverty cases. Justine joined Statewide Legal Services in 1998 as a legal aid attorney in the Family Unit, and was soon promoted to manager of the unit. In October of 2000, Children’s Law Center approached her, and with the support of her boss at SLS, she came aboard and has served as Executive Director since.
In 2005, the American Bar Association adopted the process for outcome measures that were developed by Children’s Law Center, under Justine’s guidance, for use intracking measureable outcomes of legal aid programs involving child custody. Three years later, at a joint conference of the American Bar Association and the American Psychological Association, Justine presented a paper on our Families in Transition program, and how to incorporate a mental health component into the legal representation of children. During Justine’s tenure, Children’s Law Center has been at the forefront of including mental health care in the process of legal representation of children in family court. The model is one of only a few in the state of Connecticut, and has been widely adapted.
Justine was appointed to the Governor’s Commission on Judicial Reform in 2006, and served as a member of a sub-committee on the Governor’s Commission on Divorce, Custody and Children in 2003. She is a member of the Hartford County Bar Association, where she serves on the Committee of Family Law; the Connecticut Bar Association, where she serves on the Executive Committee of the Family Law Section, and is a Fellow of the Connecticut Bar Foundation, where she serves on the Education Subcommittee. She is also a member of the AFCC and the NACC, and is a tireless advocate for serving the best interest of children in family court. Under Justine’s leadership, the Children’s Law Center hosted the Guardian Ad Litem Academy for Central and Northeast Connecticut in 2010. In 2013,CLC’s Attorney Justine and Attorney Randa Hojaiban, M.S.W., Deputy Director, recently co-authored a comprehensively written chapter entitled “Representing Children in Family Court Custody and Visitation Disputes” in the recently published handbook A Practical Guide to Divorce in Connecticut.
Attorney Rakich-Kelly is married with three children, two step-children, and two grand children.