Hundreds gather at Annual ‘Walk to the Hill’

Issue March/April 2017

Hundreds of attorneys participated in the 18th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid at the State House on Thursday, Jan. 26. 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.

Massachusetts civil legal aid programs are in crisis. Faced with overwhelming need for legal assistance, more than 60 percent of eligible low-income people seeking legal aid are turned away due to lack of funding. The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation is asking for a $5 million increase in state funding for civil legal aid, for a total appropriation of $23 million. With the requested increase, more people will be able to stay in their homes, find shelter and avoid hardship.

Massachusetts Bar Association President Jeffrey N. Catalano spoke about the important need for increased civil legal aid services and the commitment of the MBA to keep advocating for more funding.

"There are thousands of people who are in need right now. They're on the cusp of throwing in the towel on behalf of themselves, their families or their friends," said Catalano. "We are all here to say that we are in your corner."

Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants addressed what the next 12 months are likely to bring for those struggling in many areas across the state.

"We can expect the coming year to present unprecedented challenges to the rule of law and to the health and well being of the poor and vulnerable of this commonwealth," remarked Gants. He later added, "We can defend the rights of the poor for what the Red Sox spend on a first baseman."

Other featured speakers included EJC Chair Louis Tompros and BBA President Carol Starkey. The speaking portion of the event concluded with remarks from a legal aid client.

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