The Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) was established by the Commonwealth in 1983 to ensure that low-income people with critical non-criminal legal problems would have access to legal information, advice and representation.
MLAC is the largest funding source for civil legal aid programs in Massachusetts. MLAC also provides leadership and support for the continued improvement of legal aid to low-income people statewide through its Initiatives.
MLAC does not provide funds for legal assistance in criminal matters or in any civil matter in which the state is required by statute or the state or federal constitutions to provide representation to indigent persons.
To be eligible for funding, an organization must meet the following criteria:
- Be a nonprofit corporation that delivers free legal assistance in civil matters to low-income persons and;
- Have a board of directors composed of at least 25 percent people who would be income eligible to receive services and at least 51 percent attorneys.
For purposes of MLAC funding, with some exceptions, clients must meet one of the following conditions: client or a member of the household receives public assistance under the Massachusetts Transitional Aid to Families with Dependent Children (TAFDC); Emergency Aid to Elders, Disabled and Children (EAEDC); means-tested Veterans’ benefits programs; receives assistance under Title XVI of the Social Security Act; is eligible for assistance from the MassHealth program; or has income after taxes which is less than 125 percent of the federal poverty threshold established by the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
- Applications for funding are accepted once per year.
- Organizations must complete an application and, if determined eligible, meet with an application review team that consists of representatives from the MLAC Board and Staff.
- FY20 application materials will be available in late February.
- Applications must be received by MLAC in mid-April. An application deadline will be announced when application materials are released.
- Applicants will be notified of funding decicions in July.
Funding is distributed quarterly beginning October 1. MLAC provides funding for the following:
- Local general support funds – At least 80 percent of MLAC general support funding goes to regional legal services organizations. Funding is allocated based on the number of low-income persons in the geographic area served as determined by Census data.
- Statewide general support funds – Up to 20 percent of MLAC funding is dispersed to organizations that provide services statewide.
- Special Project Funds – MLAC provides the following restricted funding:
- Disability Benefits Project provides legal representation to Massachusetts residents seeking federal Social Security benefits and who meet the income guidelines set forth above.
- Medicare Advocacy Project provides legal assistance to Massachusetts residents who are seeking or who have been denied coverage under the Medicare Program and who meet the income guidelines set forth above.
- Domestic Violence Legal Assistance Project provides legal assistance to Massachusetts residents who are victims of domestic violence and who meet the income guidelines set forth above. Comprehensive, long term post 209A legal assistance in Probate and Family Court matters is provided to eligible clients. In addition, other legal assistance that would help obtain long term family security to victims of domestic violence may be provided.
- Single-purpose funds to address specialized needs of segments of the client community.
Other policies, expectations and requirements
Other policies, expectations and requirements are set forth in the application. The organization’s executive director and its board chair/president must review the policies and submit assurances that, if awarded funds, the applicant will comply with all policies and requirements.