Merger creates Community Legal Aid to serve Central and Western Massachusetts

Issue September 2011

Community Legal Aid (CLA) -- which provides free civil legal assistance to low-income and elderly residents of Worcester, Hampden, Hampshire, Franklin and Berkshire counties -- was created this summer when Legal Assistance Corp. of Central Massachusetts (LACCM) combined with Western Massachusetts Legal Services (WMLS).

CLA specializes in elder law, government benefits and unemployment compensation, landlord-tenant law, humanitarian-based immigration law, housing and employment discrimination, and family law matters affecting domestic violence victims. In addition to assisting clients with their cases, CLA provides training for social service providers and others on legal issues affecting low-income and elderly families and individuals.

Previously, LACCM provided free legal services to eligible clients in the central part of the state, while WMLS provided those services in the four western counties of the state.

The combined staff of more than 50 people works at CLA's main offices in Northampton, Pittsfield, Springfield and Worcester. CLA staff also meet with clients on designated days at satellite offices in Fitchburg, Greenfield, Milford, North Adams and Southbridge.

"CLA's staff looks forward to working together on issues affecting our client communities," said CLA Executive Director Jonathan Mannina. "We are proud of the legacy of past providers of legal aid in Central and Western Massachusetts, and we are committed to providing the finest legal advocacy for our clients."