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Chief Justice Gants and Bar Association Leaders to Speak at 18th Annual Walk to the Hill

Hundreds of Attorneys to Gather at State House on Thursday, January 26 to Request $5 Million Increase in Funding for Civil Legal Aid

BOSTON (January 11, 2017)―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. 26 at 11:30am for the 18th 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 $5 million increase in state funding for programs that provide civil legal aid to low-income Massachusetts residents.

“Civil legal aid is a key part of efforts by the state and the social service sector to fight poverty in Massachusetts. Free legal advice or representation in non-criminal legal matters like child support and custody disputes; home foreclosure or eviction; wrongful termination from a job, and accessing veterans’ services provides the stability that can assist low-income people to build a better future for themselves,” said Lonnie Powers, executive director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC). “State investment in civil legal aid is critical to the success of these efforts.”

Speakers at Walk to the Hill will include Chief Justice Gants, Boston Bar Association President Carol A. Starkey, and Massachusetts Bar Association President Jeffrey N. Catalano. The program will also include remarks by a client who has benefited from civil legal aid assistance.

“Civil legal aid is one of the smartest investments the Commonwealth makes each year,” said MLAC Board Chair Marijane Benner Browne. “Each year, community-based civil legal aid programs around the state generate more money in new revenue and cost savings than the Commonwealth appropriates to support these programs. A 2014 report by the Boston Bar Association’s Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts found that every dollar Massachusetts spent on civil legal aid in eviction and foreclosure cases saved $2.69 in state services, and every dollar spent on assisting qualified people to receive federal benefits returns $5 to the state and its residents. We simply can’t afford not to make this investment.”

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 FY18 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
  • Massachusetts Bar Association President Jeffrey N. Catalano
  • Boston Bar Association President Carol A. Starkey
  • 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 2017.

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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.