Below is an excerpt from a letter to the editor published by Mass Lawyers Weekly on January 12, written by John Carroll, a former Chair of the Equal Justice Coalition (EJC), who currently serves “Of Counsel” to Meehan, Boyle, Black and Bogdanow, where he has worked since 1985. The letter details the history and importance of the EJC’s annual advocacy day, Walk to the Hill.
This year, for the 25th time, legal professionals from across Massachusetts will gather to lobby their legislators for increased funding for civil legal aid. After three years of virtual lobbying, “Walk to the Hill” will once again be in person. And the event is on Jan. 25 — a good omen!
What is the Walk all about? Its origin can be traced back to the “Great Society” programs of President Lyndon Johnson, who in 1964 created the Office of Economic Opportunity. One of its major goals was to provide legal representation to those most in need.
After the Legal Services Corp. was created in 1974, legal services offices were placed in every state, covering virtually every county in the country. Eligibility guidelines were set at $125 percent of the federal poverty level (which currently equates to $37,500 a year for a family of four, or approximately $721 a week).
Subsequently, both LSC’s resources and activities were severely curtailed by Congress.
Federally imposed limitations triggered a unique response from Massachusetts. Prominent attorneys from large and small firms alike joined forces to ensure Massachusetts citizens had adequate funding for civil legal services.
Read the full letter at Mass Lawyers Weekly.