Visit www.masslegalhelp.org for legal information and self-help materials about your issue.
Unlike criminal defendants, low-income people facing civil legal problems–involving issues such as child custody, domestic violence, housing, health care, employment, government benefits and elder issues–are not eligible for court-appointed attorneys. They rely on legal aid organizations; this is often the only way their basic human needs for health, safety, and housing can be protected.
If you are a lawyer or advocate on behalf of low-income Massachusetts residents, visit MassLegalServices.org for legal information on benefits, employment, family law, immigration, CORI, and more.
Leaders from the legislative, civic, and legal communities in Massachusetts discuss the importance of civil legal aid in this video made possible by a grant from the National Association of IOLTA Programs.
Inside a Legal Aid Organization
The Central West Justice Center provides free legal help to low-income and elderly residents of central and western Massachusetts. It’s a subsidiary of Community Legal Aid, one of many legal aid organizations that MLAC funds. CWJC’s advocates focus on cases involving humanitarian-based immigration law, employment rights, housing and homelessness issues, and access to public benefits. Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly produced this video in recognition of Central West Justice Center receiving the Reginald Heber Smith Award for Excellence in Legal Services.
Voices of MLAC
In his Access to Justice Fellowship with the Equal Justice Coalition, former EJC Chair John Carroll interviewed leadership, staff, and other stakeholders in the Massachusetts legal services community. From these interviews, and using other historical resources, John authored a collection of narratives, tracing the origins of civil legal aid in Massachusetts and detailing the vital services provided by the 14 legal aid organizations funded by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (a co-founding member of the EJC).
Boston Bar Association Civil Legal Aid Task Force Report
In 2014, the Boston Bar Association’s Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal aid in Massachusetts produced the report Investing in Justice: A Roadmap to Cost-Effective Funding of Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts. This study, the result of comprehensive analysis of civil legal aid’s impact on the state, found that every dollar invested in civil legal aid returns between two and five dollars to the state and its residents. Read the full report to learn more about how lack of access to civil legal aid affects low-income people, the courts, and the state’s economy.
Economic analysis performed by independent and nationally known economic consulting firms The Analysis Group, Alvarez & Marsal, and NERA.