What We Do
The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation provides funding and support to civil legal aid organizations across the Commonwealth.
Funding. MLAC is the largest funder of civil legal aid for low-income individuals in the Commonwealth. MLAC grants the money to nonprofit organizations that provide legal assistance at no cost to low-income residents of Massachusetts. For more information on the organizations MLAC funds and how to apply for funding, please visit our funding pages.
MLAC provides several kinds of grants. General Support includes unrestricted funds to legal aid organizations, as well as funding for:
- Disability Benefits Project
- Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Project
- Medicare Advocacy Project
Other Funds, include grants for these projects:
Support. MLAC strengthens legal aid in Massachusetts in several ways:
- The Central Technology Project provides technology services and support to MLAC-funded organizations to help them deliver legal aid effectively and efficiently.
- Data and Policy Analysis measures and analyzes the scope and impact of legal aid across a wide variety of factors, including: number of clients and cases, types of cases, and demographics.
- Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion works to create a diverse, representative and collaborative environment within legal services to provide accessible, welcoming, and culturally competent services to clients of all backgrounds and their communities.
MLAC Statement: We Must Collaborate to End Racism
- The Equal Justice Coalition advocates for state funding for civil legal aid. It is a partnership of MLAC, the Boston Bar Association, and the Massachusetts Bar Association.
- Fellowships fund the work of legal aid attorneys who seek to expand the delivery of legal services in communities traditionally underserved by legal aid. MLAC funds two fellowships: The Bart Gordon Fellowship and The Racial Justice Fellowship.
MLAC receives revenue from several sources:
- The Commonwealth of Massachusetts appropriates money in its state budget to MLAC, which MLAC distributes to qualified civil legal aid organizations. In Fiscal Year 2021, the state appropriation is $29 million.
- MLAC receives 67 percent of the revenue generated by the Interest on Lawyers Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program. Revenue is generated through the interest of modest or short term bank accounts that attorneys use to manage their client’s money temporarily.
- MLAC receives grants from government agencies and private foundations seeking to fund special initiatives in response to emerging crises. For example, MLAC received grants for initiatives to provide legal defense to homeowners in the midst of the foreclosure crisis, legal services to immigrants facing deportation, and to address the civil legal needs of victims of crime.
About Civil Legal Aid
Unlike in criminal cases, low-income people facing civil legal problems – involving issues such as child custody, domestic violence, housing, health care, employment, government benefits and elder issues – do not have a right to a lawyer. They rely on legal aid organizations; this is often the only way their basic human needs for health, safety, and housing can be protected.
People with an income at or below 125% of the federal poverty level are eligible for civil legal aid. According to 2021 federal poverty guidelines, that means annual income at or below $33,125 for a family of four.