Annual Walk to the Hill takes place March 8

Issue March 2005

Join MBA President Kathleen M. O'Donnell and other colleagues on Tuesday, March 8 in a "Walk to the Hill" to advocate for increased funding for civil legal services throughout the commonwealth.

The annual Walk to the Hill takes place from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Great Hall at the State House. Members of the bar will lobby legislators to expand legal services funding to better meet the need for assistance.

The event, which is cosponsored by the Massachusetts Bar Association, the Boston Bar Association and Equal Justice Coalition, allows attorneys to speak with their legislators about the critical need for legal services for the indigent. By providing legal advice and representation to those who cannot afford to pay for a private attorney, legal aid ensures fairness and efficiency in the administration of justice.

Due to a shortage of legal resources, legal aid programs must turn away a majority of eligible people. In recent years the Massachusetts Bar Association, Boston Bar Association, American Corporate Counsel Association, Massachusetts Judges Conference and many others have joined the call for additional funding for legal aid.

Funding for civil legal aid was reduced by $1.5 million between fiscal years 2002 and 2005 as state revenues declined. At the same time, unemployment rose, as did the number of individuals eligible for legal aid, according to a fact sheet distributed by the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp.

MLAC is asking that the House Ways and Means Committee increase funding for civil legal aid in line item 0321-1600 by $4.5 million in fiscal year 2006, including $1.5 million in restoration.

Legal aid is a solid investment that builds strong communities. Families are saved from homelessness, domestic violence victims win custody of their children, elder victims of mortgage scams recoup their losses and absent parents are compelled to pay child support.