Lawyers e-Journal

Thursday, Jan. 28, 2010
Image for Walk to the Hill 2010
From top to bottom:

Top left: Gov. Deval Patrick speaks at the 11th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid.

Top right: MBA President-elect Denise Squillante stresses the urgency for more legal aid funding.

Bottom: A crowd of hundreds gathers at the Jan. 27 event.

Photos by Evin Luongo and Jennifer Rosinski.

Gov. Deval Patrick makes a surprise appearance at 11th annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid

Gov. Deval Patrick released his FY11 budget, including level funding for legal services, just moments before the start of the 11th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. That positive news was delivered by the governor himself, when he paid a surprise visit to the Great Hall in the Statehouse and addressed a standing room only crowd of legal aid supporters.

"I apologize for crashing the party, but I just wanted to come by and tell you how much I appreciate you being here," Patrick said. "Everybody in this room shares as I do a commitment to doing everything we can for people for whom access to justice isn't real."

The governor announced to the crowd of hundreds that his budget plan calls for legal services to be level-funded at $9.5 million dollars. The House and Senate will each vote on their own versions of the budget in the coming months. A compromise measure will then be sent to the Governor. "I want you to use today to fight for it," Patrick told the audience of his legal aid budget.

MBA President-elect Denise Squillante spoke at the event along with Boston Bar Association President John J. Regan and former legal aid client Carmelita T. of Mattapan, whose attorney at Greater Boston Legal Services won a precedent-setting decision, affirming that caretakers of children with disabilities may search for part-time work without affecting their eligibility for unemployment benefits.

"At the core of our ability to meet the needs for legal assistance is funding at the state level," Squillante said. "Such funding will help ensure appropriate legal counsel regardless of the economic barriers Massachusetts citizens may face."

The event was co-sponsored by the Equal Justice Coalition, Boston Bar Association , MBA and 29 local and specialty bar associations. Following the speaking program, the attorneys visited their legislators and asked them to protect funding for civil legal aid in the FY11 budget.

Click here for more information on the FY11 budget.

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