New justice center in downtown Salt Lake providing legal to aid those who can’t afford a lawyer

Jun 23, 2023, 12:45 PM

The staff of the new James B. Lee Justice Center...

(Renee Leta/James B. Lee Justice Center)

(Renee Leta/James B. Lee Justice Center)

SALT LAKE CITY — In our country, there is an automatic right to an attorney in a criminal case. But what if you need help with a domestic violence situation, divorce, custody issue or access to health care or other benefits?

“As a society, we’ve decided that in civil cases, it is the nonprofits’ role to assist,” explained Adina Zahradnikova, executive director of the Disability Law Center. “The needs are huge and our goal is to bridge that gap and create equal justice for everyone.”


Letter of Intent (Utah France Alpes Cote DAzur) final (1)

The new justice center

This week, the new James B. Lee Justice Center opened in downtown Salt Lake City. The center represents a collaboration of three agencies: The Disability Law Center, Utah Legal Services and Legal Aid Society of Salt Lake.

“Access to justice in Utah happens under this roof,” Zahradnikova said. “A lot of people are able to get what they need because of our existence.”

How many people? Approximately 30,000 Utahns who do not have the money for a lawyer can access legal help there.

What kinds of legal issues?

It is a long and varied list. The new justice center will:

  1. help protect children and families from abuse
  2. secure immediate and long-term safety by attaining protective orders
  3. enforce the law that protects people with disabilities, ADA accessibility
  4. protect access to mental health and medical treatment
  5. help to preserve income and healthcare
  6. help low-income families with divorce, custody, child support and visitation
  7. help low-income seniors with guardianship defense, estate planning, and housing
  8. help Native Americans, migrant workers and other marginalized groups.

80,000 unmet legal needs

Without this center, thousands of Utahns “would not have representation, and many of them would lose their housing, access to food and income,” Zahradnikova explained. “There are about 80,000 unmet legal needs in our community. We have a lot of work to do. We need to breach that gap.”

85% of their clients at the three agencies in the Justice Center said they would not be able to afford legal help with their issues without these agencies.

The new James B. Lee Justice Center “will allow us to serve more Utahns,” Zahradnikova said. “With access to better technology, we’ll be able to serve more Utahns in rural communities, as well.”


We want to hear from you.

Have a story idea or tip? Send it to the KSL NewsRadio team here.

Crime, Police + Courts

FILE- Police found a Sandy couple dead in their home....

Eliza Pace

Sandy man kills wife, then himself, police say

A Sandy couple was found dead with gunshot wounds, police say, following an argument. They say the husband killed his wife, then himself.

8 hours ago

A Cedar City police logo is pictured in Cedar City on Wednesday April 7, 2021....

Emma Keddington

One person in critical condition after road rage shooting in Cedar City

The suspect reportedly pulled out a firearm and shot a victim at Fiddlers Canyon Drive and Main Street in Cedar City Wednesday afternoon.

11 hours ago

Arraignment for driver, Kent Cody Barlow today...

Heather Peterson, Diana Jones

Arraignment for driver accused of killing two boys in 2022 held today

The man accused of killing of two 3-year-old boys when he lost control of his car in 2022 will be in the courtroom today.

15 hours ago

A sign at the Matheson Courthouse in Salt Lake City is pictured on Friday, Jan. 22, 2021. (Kristin ...

Amanda Dickson

Dickson: What it’s like to serve on a jury

Have you ever served jury duty? Here's what the process is like and why it's important.

16 hours ago

Video released by the Salt Lake City Police Department shows a thief getting into the blue Lamborgh...

Mariah Maynes

Police ask for help locating Lamborghini stolen from SLC airport

Salt Lake City Police Department is asking for help identifying a suspect accused of stealing a Lamborghini from Salt Lake International Airport.

18 hours ago

A 5th District Court judge signed an execution warrant for Taberon Dave Honie on Monday, a man who ...

Emily Ashcraft,

Utah judge signs execution warrant for Cedar City man convicted in 1998 murder

A 5th District Court judge signed an execution warrant for Taberon Dave Honie on Monday, a man who was sentenced to death in 1999.

2 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Underwater shot of the fisherman holding the fish...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

Your Bear Lake fishing guide

Bear Lake offers year-round fishing opportunities. By preparing ahead of time, you might go home with a big catch!

A group of people cut a purple ribbon...


Comcast announces major fiber network expansion in Utah

Comcast's commitment to delivering extensive coverage signifies a monumental leap toward a digitally empowered future for Utahns.

a doctor putting her hand on the chest of her patient...

Intermountain Health

Intermountain nurse-midwives launch new gynecology access clinic

An access clinic launched by Intermountain nurse-midwives provides women with comprehensive gynecology care.

Young couple hugging while a realtor in a suit hands them keys in a new home...

Utah Association of Realtors

Buying a home this spring? Avoid these 5 costly pitfalls

By avoiding these pitfalls when buying a home this spring, you can ensure your investment will be long-lasting and secure.

a person dressed up as a nordic viking in a dragon boat resembling the bear lake monster...

Bear Lake Convention and Visitors Bureau

The Legend of the Bear Lake Monster

The Bear Lake monster has captivated people in the region for centuries, with tales that range from the believable to the bizarre.


Live Nation Concerts

All the artists coming to Utah First Credit Union Amphitheatre (formerly USANA Amp) this summer

Summer concerts are more than just entertainment; they’re a celebration of life, love, and connection.

New justice center in downtown Salt Lake providing legal to aid those who can’t afford a lawyer