Billboard, YouTube campaign to raise court funding awareness

Issue February 2012 By Tricia M. Oliver

MBA President Campbell calls effort 'a clear indication of how dire the circumstances have gotten'

As Massachusetts begins its state budget process for fiscal 2013, the Massachusetts Bar Association has launched a high profile awareness campaign on the effects of underfunded courts. The statewide effort is geared toward the commonwealth's general public.

"Understandably, the average citizen may not appreciate the irreplaceable role courts play in their security, livelihood and freedoms," MBA President Richard P. Campbell said. "This significant communication will attempt to change that."

Through a billboard campaign that began the week of Jan. 15, the association is aiming to grab the average citizen's attention to reinforce that court funding does impact him or her. The MBA's message is showcased on billboards in Greater Boston, along I-93 in Dorchester and Medford; in Worcester along I-290; and in Fall River along Rt. 24.

The billboard message directs passersby to the MBA website, Included on the MBA's site will be informational materials on court funding, as well as resources citizens and members of the legal community can reference when reaching out to their respective legislators on this important issue.

As part of the informational online package, public service announcement-style videos can be viewed. The videos highlight the negative impact of inadequate court funding through the perspective of judicial leadership, attorneys, academic leaders and court staff.

"We've never done this before," Campbell said. "The fact that the MBA has committed to elevating awareness in this fashion is a clear indication of how dire the circumstances have gotten in the court room atmosphere and operations."

The campaign has already garnered much attention. Following the first wave of promotion on this high-profile, public awareness campaign, media coverage has including pieces on/in; State House News Service; MassINC's CommonWealth magazine; WBUR-FM; the American Bar Association's ABAJournal; Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly's blog, The Docket; Banker & Tradesman; and Worcester's Telegram & Gazette.

In addition, news of the campaign has received considerable attention on social media, especially Twitter. Members are encouraged to follow @massbar for the latest tweets on the topic or to join the conversation.

Campbell said he realizes that the campaign won't reach every citizen of the commonwealth, but he is eager to take the MBA's communication and advocacy efforts to the next level to better convey why Massachusetts should properly fund its third branch of government.

In addition to the billboards and YouTube videos, the MBA will work to continue to share word of the campaign through comprehensive outreach to membership and the larger legal and legislative communities, as well as other key community and opinion leaders.

Gov. Deval L. Patrick released his version of the fiscal 2013 budget on January 25, while both the House and Senate will begin their budget debates in April and May respectively.

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