Equal Justice Coalition to Hold 16th Annual Walk to the Hill Featuring Chief Justice Gants, AG Maura Healey, and Bar Association Leaders

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Hundreds of Attorneys to Gather at Mass. State House on Thurs., January 29 to Request $10M Increase in Funding for Civil Legal Aid

This is the largest lobby day held at the State House each year. Attendees will ask for a $10 million increase in state funding for civil legal aid.

Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court will join hundreds of private attorneys from more than 40 law firms at the Massachusetts State House on Thursday, Jan. 29 for the 16th Annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid. Attendees of this annual lobby day, one of the largest held at the State House each year, will ask for a $10 million increase in state funding for programs that provide civil legal aid to low-income Massachusetts residents.

Civil legal aid programs assist low-income individuals and families in resolving issues related to basic necessities such as housing, employment, classroom accommodations for children with disabilities, and conflicts related to child support and custody, divorce, and domestic violence. Currently, more than 60 percent of those eligible for civil legal aid in Massachusetts who seek services are turned away due to lack of resources.

This fall, the Boston Bar Association’s Statewide Task Force to Expand Civil Legal Aid in Massachusetts recommended increasing the Commonwealth’s investment in civil legal aid by $30 million over the next three years to begin to address this unmet need.

Currently, the state invests $15 million annually in civil legal aid.

Numerous attorneys and legal advocates including Attorney General Maura Healey; former Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Margaret Marshall, former Boston City Councilor and mayoral candidate Mike Ross; Deputy Director of the Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Rahsaan Hall; Greater Boston Legal Services Director Jacqui Bowman; and Boston Bar Association President Julia Huston have expressed their support for increased investment in civil legal aid by participating in the #IWalkForJustice social media campaign:

Speakers at Walk To the Hill will include Chief Justice Ralph Gants, Attorney General Maura Healy, Boston Bar Association President Julia Huston, and Massachusetts Bar Association President Marsha Kazarosian. Two legal aid clients will also recount how they were able to extract themselves from domestic abuse with the assistance of civil legal aid attorneys.

Following the speaking program, attorneys will visit their legislators and urge them to increase funding for the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation by $10 million to $25 million in the FY16 state budget. MLAC is the largest funder of civil legal aid in Massachusetts.

Walk to the Hill is sponsored by the Equal Justice Coalition, which is a collaboration of the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation. The event is also co-sponsored by numerous county and specialty bar associations throughout Massachusetts.

SPEAKING PROGRAM:
11:30 a.m. to 12:00 p.m.
Great Hall of Flags
Massachusetts State House, Boston

The order of speakers is as follows:
--Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court
--Attorney General Maura Healey
--Boston Bar Association President Julia Huston
--Massachusetts Bar Association President Marsha Kazarosian
--Legal aid clients

NOTE: Members of the media are welcome to attend all or part of the speaking program. Please follow the Equal Justice Coalition on Twitter (http://www.twitter.com/equaljusticema) as well as the hashtag #IWalkForJustice for the latest on Walk to the Hill 2015.

About the Equal Justice Coalition
The Equal Justice Coalition, a collaboration of the Boston Bar Association, Massachusetts Bar Association and the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, works to increase state funding for civil legal aid. For more information, visit http://www.equaljusticecoalition.org.

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Susan Ryan-Vollmar
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