Governor Baker, The Budget, And Civil Legal Aid

A call for governor Baker to approve the funding increase for civil legal aid in Massachusetts.

Op-Ed (Massachusetts)

WGBH News (MA)
July 14, 2015
Full story

Tags: Access to Justice, Benefits of Legal Aid, Benefits of Legal Aid: Economic, Funding: IOLTA, Funding: State & Local

Organizations mentioned/involved: Equal Justice Coalition (EJC) (MA)


The touchstone of this progression is that the law, at its most basic level, is about fairness and justice for all. Unfortunately, in Massachusetts and around the country, equal justice for all is still just an aspiration for many―not a reality. This is especially true in civil cases, where low-income litigants often face trials and administrative hearings without the advice or representation of an attorney.

While those accused of committing a crime have a right to an attorney, people facing non-criminal legal issues related to some of life’s most basic rights and protections—safe shelter, fair employment, freedom from discrimination, and access to health care, to name a few—have no such right.

As Martha Bergmark, Executive Director of the national organization Voices for Civil Justice, herself a former legal aid attorney, recently put it in an op-ed for the Washington Post, “Many people suffer crushing losses in court not because they’ve done something wrong, but simply because they don’t have legal help.”