As we’ve said before, Walk to the Hill is only the start of civil legal aid advocacy in Massachusetts, the kick-off event to a year-round commitment to advocacy. On January 30, 2014, the Massachusetts legal community made a solid showing at the statehouse. Leaders of the courts, the bar, and a civil legal aid client all spoke to nearly 600 lawyers gathered in the Great Hall of the Statehouse. Hundreds visited their elected officials to speak about the importance of civil legal aid funding and ask for an increase in MLAC funding.
A month later we returned to the Statehouse to say thank you, with the Equal Justice Coalition’s Legislative Recognition Reception. The event honored current and former legislators for their outstanding support of access to justice for low-income Massachusetts residents with critical civil legal problems. The awards were as follows:
Beacon of Justice:
Speaker of the House Robert A. DeLeo
Representative Brian Dempsey, Chair, House Committee on Ways & Means
Champion of Justice:
Senator Stephen Brewer, Chair, Senate Committee on Ways & Means
Senate President Therese Murray
Eugene O’Flaherty, Corporation Counsel for the City of Boston and former House Chair, Joint Committee on the Judiciary
Congresswoman Katherine Clark, former Senate Chair, Joint Committee on the Judiciary
Supporters of Justice:
All 68 House and Senate co-sponsors of the MLAC FY14 budget amendment
This was a great opportunity to continue the discussion on civil legal aid funding. It highlighted the importance of frequent and ongoing advocacy as former state officials Eugene O’Flaherty and U.S. Representative Katherine Clark were honored with as “Champions of Justice,” a lifetime achievement award for their commitment to supporting civil legal aid. With these two familiar faces no longer working inside the Statehouse for civil legal aid, we need to work even harder to make sure that other legislators take up this noble cause.
We hope that you will continue to do your part. Remind your State Senator and Representative that civil legal aid is important and increased funding is necessary. Let them know that it matters to their constituents. Finally, be a resource – tell them the impact it has on your life and work.
– Jonathan Schreiber
Legislative and Public Policy Manager
Boston Bar Association