Hundreds "walk" to support legal aid funding

Issue February 2015

Hundreds of attorneys participated in the 16th annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid at the State House on Jan. 29. 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.

The EJC is calling on state lawmakers to adequately fund the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) line item in the state budget. MLAC is requesting $25 million in the fiscal year 2016 budget. Despite a state funding increase last fiscal year from the Massachusetts Legislature, overall funding for civil legal aid in Massachusetts has declined in recent years.

"This is not a legal issue, it is a universal issue," said MBA President Marsha V. Kazarosian in her remarks at the event. "And so as we meet with legislative leadership and the key members of Governor Baker's administration, we will continue to address the dire need for increased funding for legal aid as we stand with the many bar organizations who have worked to support legal aid for the poor."

In addition to Kazarosian, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants, Attorney General Maura T. Healey and Boston Bar Association President Julia Huston also addressed the importance of funding for civil legal aid in their remarks. Two speakers also shared their experiences about how they were helped by legal-aid funded attorneys. EJC Chair John J. Carroll Jr. gave opening remarks and introduced the speakers.

Walk to the Hill was co-sponsored by the Equal Justice Coalition, MBA, BBA and many local and specialty bar associations. Attorneys from several Boston-area law firms and organizations participated. Each year, Walk to the Hill is one of the largest lobbying events at the State House.