11th Annual Walk to the Hill to rally support for civil legal aid Jan. 27

Issue January 2010

The 11th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid will kick off at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27, in the Great Hall of the Statehouse, where attorneys and legal advocates will highlight the importance of these programs. The need to maintain funding is just as great for fiscal year 2011 as it was last year.

"Our message to legislators will again be twofold: maintain funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp. (MLAC) line item at $9.5 million and include this issue as a personal legislative priority," said Pattye Comfort, director of the Equal Justice Coalition.

Massachusetts Bar Association President Valerie A. Yarashus is slated to speak about the urgent need for more funding. She will be joined by Boston Bar Association President John J. Regan. A legal aid client will also share how the program has helped their family resolve a legal issue.

The past year's economic troubles have taken a toll on civil legal aid in Massachusetts, according to Comfort. Income from the Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program has plummeted 63 percent since fiscal 2008 and is not expected to increase in fiscal 2010. Compounding this loss is the decrease in the civil legal aid line item - from $11 million in fiscal 2009 to $9.5 million in fiscal 2010.

Walk to the Hill is one of the largest lobbying events at the State House, and last year's drew a crowd of more than 750, the highest turnout in the event's history.