Massachusetts State House

Chief Justice Gants and Bar Association Leaders to Speak at 19th Annual Walk to the Hill

BOSTON (January 16, 2018)―Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court and bar association leaders will join hundreds of private attorneys from more than 40 law firms at the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, Jan. 25 at 11:00 a.m. for the 19th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. Attendees of this annual lobby day, one of the largest held on Beacon Hill each year, will request a $5 million increase in state funding for programs that provide civil legal aid to low-income Massachusetts residents. Approximately 880,000 people in Massachusetts have incomes at or below 125% of the Federal Poverty Level ($30,750 a year for a family of four), making them eligible for civil legal aid.

“Tens of thousands of people who live in Massachusetts cannot afford the legal help or representation they need when facing life-changing circumstances such as escaping domestic violence, unlawful eviction or home foreclosure, or the denial of veteran’s benefits,” said Lonnie Powers, executive director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC). “They’re left to navigate these complex legal matters alone, putting their families, homes, health, and livelihoods at risk. Civil legal aid gives low-income people in Massachusetts the tools they need to achieve or maintain their financial stability and independence.”

Speakers at Walk to the Hill will include Chief Justice Gants, Boston Bar Association President Mark D. Smith, and Massachusetts Bar Association President Christopher P. Sullivan. The program will also include remarks by a client who has been helped by civil legal aid.

“At a time when immigrant communities face uncertainty and hostility, and fear that the rule of law is threatened, the need for legal advocacy and advice from our civil legal aid organizations has never been more urgent,” said Justice Gants.

MBA President Christopher P. Sullivan said: “With no guarantee of a lawyer in a civil case, far too many Massachusetts residents go unrepresented in court because they simply cannot afford a lawyer, and the legal aid resources are far too limited to help everyone who is qualified to receive such aid. That’s unacceptable. Having access to a lawyer is critical, especially when folks are fighting for their homes or services for their kids or facing other life-altering challenges. More funding for legal aid is the answer, and the Massachusetts Bar Association urges our elected officials to increase funding for legal aid to ensure equal justice for all in the Commonwealth.”

“Every year, we work alongside our partners in the Equal Justice Coalition to secure funding for civil legal aid in the state budget because we understand the devastating consequences for Massachusetts families who cannot afford legal representation,” said Boston Bar Association President Mark Smith. “In addition to enabling low-income residents to access legal services, investing resources in civil legal aid saves money.”

“Civil legal aid is a solid return on investment for Massachusetts taxpayers and our communities,” said MLAC Board Chair Marijane Benner Browne. “In fiscal year 2016, the work of the 14 civil legal aid programs funded by MLAC provided an economic benefit of $49.2 million to the state’s economy. This included federal benefits and other financial support for low-income residents, as well as shelter and health care cost savings for the state.”

Following the speaking program, attorneys will visit their legislators and urge them to increase funding for MLAC, the largest funder of civil legal aid in Massachusetts, by $5 million in the FY19 state budget, for a total appropriation of $23 million.

Walk to the Hill is sponsored by the Equal Justice Coalition, a collaboration of the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. The event is also co-sponsored by numerous county and specialty bar associations throughout Massachusetts.

SPEAKING PROGRAM

11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Great Hall of Flags
Massachusetts State House, Boston

The order of speakers is as follows:

  • Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court
  • Boston Bar Association President Mark D. Smith
  • Massachusetts Bar Association President Christopher P. Sullivan
  • Legal aid client

NOTE: Members of the media are welcome to attend all or part of the speaking program. Please follow the Equal Justice Coalition on Twitter (www.twitter.com/equaljusticema) as well as the hashtags #IWalkForJustice and #WalktotheHill for the latest on Walk to the Hill 2018.

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About the Equal Justice Coalition

The Equal Justice Coalition, a collaboration of the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, works to increase state funding for civil legal aid. For more information, visit www.equaljusticecoalition.org.

Pro Bono Service is Just One Click Away: Mass Legal Answers Online

Are you looking for a meaningful pro bono opportunity that fits your schedule and taps your expertise? Look no further than Mass Legal Answers Online!

What is it?

Mass Legal Answers Online is a virtual legal advice clinic that is part of the American Bar Association’s Free Legal Answers project. It’s a secure website where low-income Massachusetts residents post their civil legal questions and volunteer attorneys answer them, all through the same website. It launched in Massachusetts on November 16, 2016.

How does it work?

  • You can choose the questions you want to answer–at any time, and from any location that works for you.
  • It’s a limited scope service–the clients know in advance that your assistance is restricted to answering their civil legal question, and that you will not go to court with them or prepare any paperwork.
  • There is no required time commitment, although we encourage you to answer at least one question a month.
  • It’s open to all attorneys in good standing who are licensed to practice law in Massachusetts, or registered for pro bono status with the Board of Bar Overseers, including in house counsel and retired attorneys
  • Malpractice coverage is provided to volunteer attorneys for legal guidance provided through the website.

How can I join?

It’s simple! Register as a volunteer at www.masslao.org.

For more information, email info@masslao,org, or see our intro video and Frequently Asked Questions on www.masslao.org

 

Chief Justice Gants, Attorney General Healey and Bar Association Leaders to Speak at 17th Annual Walk to the Hill

Media Contact:
Catherine Rizos
617-391-5627
crizos@mlac.org

Chief Justice Gants, Attorney General Healey and Bar Association Leaders to Speak at 17th Annual Walk to the Hill

Hundreds of Attorneys to Gather at State House on Thursday, January 28 to Request $10 Million Increase in Funding for Civil Legal Aid

BOSTON (January 21, 2016)―Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court and Attorney General Maura Healey will join hundreds of private attorneys from more than 40 law firms at the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, Jan. 28 for the 17th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. Attendees of this annual lobby day, one of the largest held at the State House each year, will request a $10 million increase in state funding for programs that provide civil legal aid to low-income Massachusetts residents.

“Civil legal aid is integral to helping low-income people deal with the crises that confront them in everyday life,” said Lonnie Powers, executive director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC). “Civil legal aid helps the Commonwealth’s most vulnerable residents avoid homelessness and unemployment, and gain access to health care and veterans’ services, receive a quality education, and escape domestic violence—and does so in a cost-effective manner.”

Speakers at Walk to the Hill will include Chief Justice Gants, Attorney General Maura Healey, Boston Bar Association President Lisa Arrowood, and Massachusetts Bar Association President Bob Harnais. The program will also include the screening of a video demonstrating the need for civil legal assistance in Massachusetts, featuring interviews with court personnel and Massachusetts residents in need of civil legal aid.

Due to lack of funding, civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts are forced to turn away more than 60 percent of those eligible for civil legal aid who seek services.

In 2014, the Boston Bar Association’s Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts recommended increasing the Commonwealth’s investment in civil legal aid by $30 million over the following three years to begin to address this unmet need.

“Civil legal aid is a potent tool for helping people maintain stable, independent lives,” said MLAC Board Chair Marijane Benner Browne. “Providing legal assistance to low-income people in danger of losing their home or being wrongfully evicted makes much more sense than allowing them to wind up on the street or in a shelter—places where it is difficult, if not impossible, to keep a job, raise a family, or maintain any sense of normalcy.”

Following the speaking program and video screening, attorneys will visit their legislators and urge them to increase funding for MLAC, the largest funder of civil legal aid in Massachusetts, by $10 million in the FY17 state budget, for a total appropriation of $27 million.

Walk to the Hill is sponsored by the Equal Justice Coalition, a collaboration of the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. The event is also co-sponsored by numerous county and specialty bar associations throughout Massachusetts.

SPEAKING PROGRAM & VIDEO SCREENING

11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Great Hall of Flags
Massachusetts State House, Boston

The order of speakers is as follows:

  • Attorney General Maura Healey
  • Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court
  • Massachusetts Bar Association President Bob Harnais
  • Boston Bar Association President Lisa Arrowood
  • Legal aid client

NOTE: Members of the media are welcome to attend all or part of the speaking program. Please follow the Equal Justice Coalition on Twitter as well as the hashtags #IWalkForJustice and #WalktotheHill for the latest on Walk to the Hill 2016.

# # #

About the Equal Justice Coalition

The Equal Justice Coalition, a collaboration of the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, works to increase state funding for civil legal aid. For more information, visit www.equaljusticecoalition.org