After Congress imposed severe cuts and restrictions on legal aid programs in 1996, an ad hoc Commission on Equal Justice was established in Massachusetts to assess the impact of the federally imposed changes on low-income Massachusetts residents. The Commission recommended increased funding for legal aid.
The Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation created the Equal Justice Coalition (EJC) in 1999 to implement the Commission’s recommendations. Over the years, EJC-led funding campaigns have been successful in protecting the civil legal aid appropriation when the Governor vetoed the entire line item in 2003 as well as, in better years, increasing the appropriation by more than a million dollars.
The EJC is committed to ensuring that low-income people in Massachusetts have access to legal assistance when facing civil (non-criminal) legal problems. The EJC includes representatives from bar associations, law firms and legal services programs who work together to protect the state appropriation for civil legal aid (budget line item 0321-1600, Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation).