On January 27th, the Equal Justice Coalition (EJC) held the 23rd Annual Talk/Walk to the Hill event, drawing bar association leaders, private law firms, general counsel, legal aid organizations, and law students from across the state to advocate for civil legal aid funding. This year, 845 participants gathered online to “talk to the hill,” requesting $41 million for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) in the state’s Fiscal Year 2023 budget – line item 0321-1600.
Attendees heard from an impressive line-up of speakers including Massachusetts Attorney General Maura Healey, Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Kimberly Budd, Assistant Speaker to the U.S. House of Representatives Katherine Clark, and Boston Bar Association (BBA) President Deb Manus – alongside other members of the EJC. In her address, President Manus thanked the legal community for continuing to show up for civil legal aid and reminded folks of the impact that this yearly advocacy has had.
Carol, Ed, and Jean, three of the clients of MLAC-funded organizations who spoke at the event, described the impact of civil legal aid on them personally and shared how lawyers helped them stay in their homes when they lost income due to the pandemic and helped them obtain rightfully owed benefits. Following these inspiring speakers, participants were invited to meet with their legislators in virtual break-out rooms to advocate for a $6 million dollar increase in MLAC funding over the current budget. Over 50 legislative offices were represented and hundreds of lawyers stayed on to discuss the importance of increasing civil legal aid with them.
While the Governor’s budget has recommended level-funding MLAC at $35 million next year, the BBA will continue to advocate for an increase to $41 million to meet the escalating need brought on by the pandemic as the Massachusetts House and Senate budget processes progress throughout the spring. Check back here for updates!
Government Relations Assistant