Tag Archive for: Equal Justice Coalition

Hundreds of lawyers, advocates to join virtual “Talk to the Hill” event asking Massachusetts state legislators for increased civil legal aid funding

January 26 lobby day seeks $49M for civil legal aid in FY24 

BOSTON, January 24 – Governor Maura Healey, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, bar association leaders, and legal aid clients will join a virtual gathering of hundreds of private attorneys and law students on Thursday, January 26, at 11 a.m. for Talk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. They will urge state legislators to support $49 million in the FY24 state budget for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation to fund organizations that provide legal advice and representation at no cost to Massachusetts residents with low incomes. People and families with incomes at or below 125% of the federal poverty level ($37,500 per year for a family of four) qualify for civil legal aid. 

The Walk to the Hill lobby day event, which engages members of the private bar and is now in its 24th year, has been held in a virtual format since the COVID-19 pandemic. 

After hearing from the program’s speakers, attendees will have the opportunity to join Zoom breakout rooms with their legislators. These meetings offer a unique opportunity for private attorneys and law students to speak directly to policymakers and share why they believe civil legal aid is important.  

Louis Tompros, Partner at WilmerHale in Boston, serves as Chair of the Equal Justice Coalition, which coordinates the event each year. Tompros says the impact of increased state appropriated funding is evidenced by improvements in the “turnaway rate,” or the percentage of people who are financially eligible to be represented by a legal aid attorney but are turned away due to a lack of resources. 

While organizations are accepting more cases than they were a few years ago, “nearly half of the people who are eligible still do not receive representation simply because staff resources are insufficient,” says Tompros. 

Lynne Parker, Executive Director of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, says the effects of COVID-19 are still being felt by people living in poverty. 

“Case numbers have risen since the pandemic in a number of areas. We’ve seen dramatic increases in housing cases and unemployment cases, for example,” Parker says, adding that, “Responding to these and other urgent needs requires a robust workforce of legal aid staff. More funding will help recruit and retain skilled advocates needed to make justice for all a reality in Massachusetts.” 


–Maura Healey, Governor of Massachusetts
–Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court 
–Grace V.B. Garcia, President of the Massachusetts Bar Association 
–Chinh H. Pham, President of the Boston Bar Association 
–Lynne Parker, Executive Director, Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation 
–Jacquelynne J. Bowman, Executive Director, Greater Boston Legal Services 
–Legal aid clients who received help over the past year  
–Host: Louis Tompros, Chair, Equal Justice Coalition 

Media are welcome to attend the speaking program and the virtual event is open to the public. Please register at ejctalktothehill.org. 

About the EJC 
The Equal Justice Coalition is a collaboration of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, Boston Bar Association, and Massachusetts Bar Association working to increase state funding for civil legal aid. 


Dozens of general counsel endorse $49 million for civil legal aid (Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly)

Below is an excerpt from a Jan. 12 editorial published in Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly.

More than five dozen general counsel recently sent a letter to Gov. Maura T. Healey to support the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp.’s and Equal Justice Coalition’s FY24 state budget request of $49 million for civil legal aid organizations.

The group of 63 attorneys from the Massachusetts business community agree that the civil legal aid organizations need more funding to meet the demands of a state emerging from a global pandemic.

“There is no right to an attorney for most types of civil legal cases, including cases that could lead to loss of housing, domestic safety, or financial stability,” said Paul T. Dacier, general counsel at Indigo, who signed the letter. “These are fundamental issues that significantly impact the most important people in our society. We should all want our systems to be fair and just, because when both sides have representation, justice is best served.”

Read more at Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly (subscription required).

Equal Justice Coalition recognizes four law firms and UMass Law for legal aid advocacy

Awards recognize exceptional participation at the 2022 Talk to the Hill

The Equal Justice Coalition has recognized four law firms and UMass Law School for outstanding participation in the 2022 Talk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid.

The award winners are:

Ropes & Gray, winner of the Highest Participation Award

Goodwin Procter, winner of the Exceptional Support Award

Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow, winner of the Nancy King Award

Goodwin Procter and Ropes & Gray (tie), winners of the Team Advocacy Award

UMass Law, winner of the Highest Participation for a Law School Award

Davis Malm, winner of the Social Media Advocacy Award

Talk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid is a lobby day for increased funding for civil legal aid organizations through the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) state budget line item. The annual “Walk to the Hill,” event has been held virtually as “Talk to the Hill” for the past two years due to the coronavirus pandemic. Last January, nearly 1,000 attorneys, law students, and advocates convened online to ask legislators to increase the state appropriation for civil legal aid by $6 million. The Commonwealth ultimately included the requested increase in the FY23 budget, appropriating a total of $41 million for civil legal aid.

This year’s lobby day will be held online January 26, 2023, at 11 a.m. Participants can register at ejctalktothehill.org/register. The speaking program will include Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, bar association presidents, other leaders in the legal community, and legal aid clients who will share how civil legal aid helped them overcome challenging circumstances. Lawyers, advocates, and law students will have the opportunity to speak with their legislators to lobby for $49 million in civil legal aid funding in FY24.

“MLAC is so grateful to private bar attorneys and law students for their efforts to support civil legal aid and promote equal access to justice for everyone, regardless of income,” said Lynne Parker, Executive Director of MLAC. “Legal aid is a lifeline for tens of thousands of Massachusetts residents each year, helping protect their health, safety, housing, employment, benefits, access to education and more. It is crucial that we increase funding for this essential service.”

About the Award Winners:

Ropes & Gray won the Highest Participation Award for having the largest group of lawyers attend.

Goodwin Procter received the Exceptional Support Award in recognition of having the second largest group of lawyers attend.

Meehan Boyle received the Nancy King for bringing the largest percentage of law firm employees to the Talk. The award is named for Nancy King, a longtime legal aid attorney in Boston who passed away in 2007.

Goodwin Procter and Ropes & Gray tied for the Team Advocacy Award, which is given to the law firm that visits the most legislative offices during the Talk to the Hill.

UMass Law earned the Highest Participation for a Law School Award for having the most law students attend.

Davis Malm received the inaugural Social Media Advocacy Award, an honor given to the law firm with the greatest number of posts about Talk to the Hill across social media channels, including participation in the #ITalkForJustice placard campaign.

 About the EJC
The Equal Justice Coalition is a collaboration of the Massachusetts Legal Assistance CorporationBoston Bar Association, and Massachusetts Bar Association, working to increase state funding for civil legal aid.