Top: MBA President John J. Morrissey speaks at the 21st Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid.
Bottom: MBA officers attended Walk to the Hill to support increased state funding for civil legal aid. From left: MBA Secretary Damian J. Turco, MBA Vice President Thomas M. Bond, MBA Treasurer Grace V.B. Garcia, MBA President John J. Morrissey, and MBA Chief Legal Counsel and Chief Operating Officer Martin W. Healy.
Today, hundreds of attorneys participated in the 21st Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid at the State House. The Massachusetts Bar Association, the Equal Justice Coalition (EJC) and the Boston Bar Association asked participants to urge their legislators to support increased state funding for civil legal aid.
We realize that it is not always feasible for you to step away from your practice. You can still do your part by Talking to the Hill. We encourage you to call your state legislators to convey your support for adequate funding for legal aid. Click here for a fact sheet on legal aid funding. To find out who your legislators are, click here.
When calling, urge your elected representatives to make $29 million in funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (line item 0321-1600) one of their top priorities for the FY21 budget.
Massachusetts civil legal aid programs are in crisis. Faced with overwhelming need for legal assistance, more than half of eligible low-income people seeking legal aid are turned away due to lack of funding. That's why the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation is asking for a $5 million increase in state funding for civil legal aid, for a total appropriation of $29 million. With the requested increase, more people will be able to stay in their homes, find shelter and avoid hardship. Elected officials from all across the state need to hear strong support for civil legal aid from their constituents if Massachusetts is going to address the growing need for legal assistance.
Sample phone script
Hi, my name is ______ and I live at ______. I am a constituent of Senator/Representative ______ and an attorney at ______. Is Senator/Representative available? Is there someone in your office I can talk to about legal assistance funding?
(Reintroduce yourself to the staffer.)
I am calling today to ask for the Senator/Representative's support for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation's $29 million budget request for FY21 in line item 0321-1600. Civil legal aid provides vital support for low-income people facing critical legal issues, including housing, domestic violence, employment, health care, and more.
More than half of eligible people in Massachusetts who seek civil legal aid services are turned away due to lack of funding. Turning people away not only places many individuals and families into crisis, it also costs the state money by pushing people into emergency services. By supporting funding for civil legal aid, Massachusetts can help our most vulnerable residents stay in their homes, find safety from abuse, and avoid other difficult and costly hardships. Funding for civil legal aid is also a sound economic investment. For every dollar invested in civil legal aid, the return to the state and its residents is as much as five dollars.
I would appreciate it if Senator/Representative ______ would get back to me on this important issue. My address is______, my phone is ______, and my email is ______.