"Every subject of the commonwealth ought to find a certain remedy, by having recourse to the laws, for all injuries or wrongs which he may receive in his person, property, or character. He ought to obtain right and justice freely, and without being obliged to purchase it; completely, and without any denial; promptly, and without delay; conformably to the laws."
— Massachusetts Constitution, Article XI
For decades, the BBA has advocated fiercely to safeguard adequate legal representation for the poor. When federal funding for legal services was threatened in the 1970s, then-president John G. Brooks called for the Bar to lead a "concentrated effort" to preserve civil and criminal legal representation for all. Today, the BBA works to guarantee fair representation through Volunteer Lawyers Project of the BBA, Greater Boston Legal Services and our partners at the Equal Justice Coalition. We collaborate nationally with our partners at the American Bar Association and Legal Services Corporation.
Massachusetts benefits from a fair and impartial judiciary that is free from political interference. As representatives of the legal profession, the BBA believes we are uniquely situated to understand the impact of the courts on the lives of every person in the Commonwealth. Our 1991 report, The Massachusetts Courts in Crisis: A Model for Reform (PDF), explains why the courts must have the tools to manage themselves and the ability to transfer personnel and resources between courts and departments.
We also co-sponsor the annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid, in which we mobilize hundreds of law students and attorneys from all sectors to gather at the Massachusetts State House and lobby legislators for civil legal-aid funding.
Open and accessible courts require adequate funding, and the BBA continues to explore the extent and impact of underfunding on access to justice. Without adequate resources, the courts cannot meet their constitutional responsibilities in criminal cases or serve as a reliable source of dispute resolution.
For more information about our work in this area or to learn how to get involved, please email Kathleen Joyce, Director of Government Relations, at firstname.lastname@example.org.