One of the BBA’s core values is equal access to justice, and every January brings an opportunity to come together with fellow advocates for funding for civil legal aid. The Equal Justice Coalition’s 17th Annual Walk to the Hill will give participants the opportunity to call on state lawmakers to adequately fund the Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation (MLAC) line item in the Fiscal Year 2017 state budget. To illustrate the multifaceted reasons MLAC’s work is important, the EJC’s #IWalkForJustice social media campaign invites supporters to share the reasons why they Walk to the Hill.
As January 28 approaches, BBA Week reached out to some Walk to the Hill organizers and supporters and asked:
“Why do you participate in Walk to the Hill?”
Phelps Turner – Sugarman, Rogers, Barshak & Cohen
“I participate in the Walk to the Hill every year because equal justice is equal protection.”
Deborah Silva – Equal Justice Coalition (Director)
“Walk to the Hill for me is really all about the clients served by MLAC-funded legal aid programs across the state – the single mom who is being threatened with an illegal eviction; the homeless vet who has been improperly denied shelter; the domestic violence victim who needs help obtaining a restraining order against her abuser; the disabled student who has been denied necessary educational supports. Without a legal aid attorney, these individuals face an uphill battle in court and administrative proceedings and might never have their legal rights enforced. I remember the first time I walked into a courtroom as an attorney – I was terrified. I can’t even imagine how scary it must be for an unrepresented litigant who is at risk of losing their home or their child. I participate in Walk to the Hill so they don’t have to go it alone. We may have a long way to go before we can fulfill the promise of “justice for all;” but I Walk in the hopes that we can all take another step closer to that goal.”
Julia Huston – Past BBA President, Foley Hoag
“Walking to the Hill is truly democracy in action. I walk every year, and would not miss it!”
Brendan St. Amant – Donnelly, Conroy & Gelhaar
“I walk to the Hill to remind my representatives—and myself—that we all can do better to close the justice gap in our community.”
Susan Finegan – Mintz Levin
“I participate in the Walk to the Hill every year because it is the most visible opportunity for members of the bar to educate our state legislators, and the public, about the importance of adequately funded civil legal aid. As lawyers, we know how having a lawyer can make all the difference to our state’s most vulnerable residents by preventing homelessness, providing safety to domestic violence survivors, or obtaining government benefits. Yet, a majority of all eligible clients who request assistance from legal aid organizations are turned away due to lack of resources. I walk with hundreds of other lawyers and judges to ensure that these important legal services can not only continue, but expand, so that even more people can be served in the coming year.”
Deborah Manus – Nutter McClennen & Fish
“Nutter Walks to the Hill because in an enlightened society justice is for all and not just people with means. Investing in civil legal aid is a smart investment.”
If you would like to respond to a future Voices of the Bar, make sure you send a headshot, and contact Lauren DiTullio at [email protected].