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
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
"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.