The 11th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid will kick
off at 11 a.m. on Wednesday, Jan. 27, in the Great Hall of the
Statehouse, where attorneys and legal advocates will highlight the
importance of these programs. The need to maintain funding is just
as great for fiscal year 2011 as it was last year.
"Our message to legislators will again be twofold: maintain
funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corp. (MLAC) line
item at $9.5 million and include this issue as a personal
legislative priority," said Pattye Comfort, director of the Equal
Massachusetts Bar Association President Valerie A. Yarashus is
slated to speak about the urgent need for more funding. She will be
joined by Boston Bar Association President John J. Regan. A legal
aid client will also share how the program has helped their family
resolve a legal issue.
The past year's economic troubles have taken a toll on civil
legal aid in Massachusetts, according to Comfort. Income from the
Interest on Lawyers' Trust Accounts (IOLTA) program has plummeted
63 percent since fiscal 2008 and is not expected to increase in
fiscal 2010. Compounding this loss is the decrease in the civil
legal aid line item - from $11 million in fiscal 2009 to $9.5
million in fiscal 2010.
Walk to the Hill is one of the largest lobbying events at the
State House, and last year's drew a crowd of more than 750, the
highest turnout in the event's history.