Tag Archive for: Walk to the Hill

Invite graphic with white speech bubble over purple background. Reads "Registration is open! January 26, 2023 11:00 AM. Talk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. RSVP at ejctalktothehill.org"

Lawyers, advocates to rally online for increased legal aid funding

January 26 lobby day seeks $49M for civil legal aid in FY24 

BOSTON, January 24 – Governor Maura Healey, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, bar association leaders, and legal aid clients will join a virtual gathering of hundreds of private attorneys and law students on Thursday, January 26, at 11 a.m. for Talk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. They will urge state legislators to support $49 million in the FY24 state budget for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation to fund organizations that provide legal advice and representation at no cost to Massachusetts residents with low incomes. People and families with incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty level ($37,500 per year for a family of four) qualify for civil legal aid. 

The Walk to the Hill lobby day event, which engages members of the private bar and is now in its 24th year, has been held in a virtual format since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After hearing from the program’s speakers, attendees will have the opportunity to join Zoom breakout rooms with their legislators. These meetings offer a unique opportunity for private attorneys and law students to speak directly to policymakers and share why they believe civil legal aid is important.  

Louis Tompros, Partner at WilmerHale in Boston, serves as Chair of the Equal Justice Coalition, which coordinates the event each year. Tompros says the impact of increased state appropriated funding is evidenced by improvements in the “turnaway rate,” or the percentage of people who are financially eligible to be represented by a legal aid attorney but are turned away due to a lack of resources. 

While organizations are accepting more cases than they were a few years ago, “nearly half of the people who are eligible still do not receive representation simply because staff resources are insufficient,” says Tompros. 

Lynne Parker, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, says the effects of COVID-19 are still being felt by people living in poverty. 

“Case numbers have risen since the pandemic in a number of areas. We’ve seen dramatic increases in housing cases and unemployment cases, for example,” Parker says, adding that, “Responding to these and other urgent needs requires a robust workforce of legal aid staff. More funding will help recruit and retain skilled advocates needed to make justice for all a reality in Massachusetts.” 

LIST OF SPEAKERS 

–Maura Healey, Governor of Massachusetts
–Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court 
–Grace V.B. Garcia, President of the Massachusetts Bar Association 
–Chinh H. Pham, President of the Boston Bar Association 
–Lynne Parker, Executive Director, Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation 
–Jacquelynne J. Bowman, Executive Director, Greater Boston Legal Services 
–Legal aid clients who received help over the past year  
–Host: Louis Tompros, Chair, Equal Justice Coalition 

Media are welcome to attend the speaking program and the virtual event is open to the public. Please register at ejctalktothehill.org.

About the EJC 
The Equal Justice Coalition is a collaboration of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, Boston Bar Association, and Massachusetts Bar Association working to increase state funding for civil legal aid. 

www.equaljusticecoalition.org 
@equaljusticema 
#ITalkforJustice 

Chief Justice Gants, Bar Leaders to Speak at 18th 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.

# # #

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.