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News from the Massachusetts legal aid community.
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Volume 9, Issue 3
News in this issue...
MLAC
Equal Justice Coalition
Save the Date
Advocacy & Program Updates
People
Awards & Recognition
Media Highlights
People Pages

Want to see your news in Legal Aid Link?  Send it to the person responsible for communications and development at your organization. The next issue will be published in November 2015.

Visit our website to read previous issues. 
MLAC
MLAC welcomes summer intern through Boston Bar Association Summer Jobs Program

This summer MLAC and the Massachusetts IOLTA Committee again participated in the Boston Bar Association's Summer Jobs Program. MLAC was fortunate to be assigned Sabrina Pierre, who recently graduated from Boston Latin Academy. Sabrina joined MLAC in June to work on a wide range of projects. Her position was generously funded by the law firm of Hemenway & Barnes. 
Equal Justice Coalition
Governor Baker signs FY16 budget, approves $17 million for civil legal aid

On July 17, Governor Baker signed the FY16 budget of the Commonwealth, approving $17 million in state funding for MLAC. The FY16 appropriation represents a $2 million increase over FY15 and will help dedicated advocates around the state provide legal services to more low-income individuals and families in need. This funding increase was secured thanks to the tireless efforts of program directors and staff, our partners in the private bar, numerous community organizations, and countless others who gave their time and effort to advocate for civil legal aid. A heartfelt thank you to all who worked for this vital increase. Your support has been invaluable.

EJC Chair John Carroll publishes op-ed in support of civil legal aid

John Carroll, an attorney at Meehan, Boyle, Black & Bogdanow and chair of the Equal Justice Coalition, authored an op-ed in support of increased funding for civil legal aid. Saying that the law, at its most basic level, is about fairness and justice, Carroll appealed to Governor Baker to approve the $2 million increase for civil legal aid passed by the legislature. You can read John's op-ed here.

Get Involved
Your voice helps ensure that Governor Baker and the Massachusetts Legislature understand the importance of legal aid funding. You can follow the EJC on Twitter, like the EJC Facebook page and sign up for action alerts at www.equaljusticecoalition.org.
Save the Date
October 16: Save the date for Massachusetts Advocates for Children's fall event! Celebrating Voices, on October 16 at Harvard Law School, will honor Charlotte Golar Richie and celebrate a special anniversary of MAC's Trauma and Learning Policy Initiative and partnership with Harvard Law School. Open bar, seated dinner, dancing, and more.  Join us or become a sponsor!

November 9: The Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee will host a conference on New Approaches to Treatment and Services for Persons with Co-occurring Substance Use and Mental Health Disorders. The program will be held at Massachusetts Continuing Legal Education at 10 Winter Place in Boston. See the program agenda for full details and click here for the registration form.

November 12–15: Register now for the National Consumer Law Center’s Consumer Rights Litigation Conference in San Antonio, Texas. Register by Sept. 21 to save money!

September 2015June 2016: Also from NCLC, check out free training webinars on a variety of topics for legal aid attorneys and advocates. The new series kicks off on Aug. 31 and runs through June 2016. Upcoming topics include an overview of the federal Lifeline program (low-income discount telecommunications program) on Aug. 31, student loan law on Sept. 30, and a special series on elder abuse prevention and response, which kicks off on Sept. 22. If you miss a live webinar, all webinars are archived so you can listen 24/7. Sign up to be notified of upcoming free webinars.
Advocacy & Program Updates
MAC reports that coverage for applied behavior analysis services (ABA) and communication devices is now available from MassHealth, with the implementation of last year's Autism Omnibus Act. The act requires MassHealth to cover ABA and communication devices for children with autism under the age of 21. You can read MAC's FAQ on how to get coverage now and after October 1 (when the process will change).

Community Legal Aid recently settled a discrimination lawsuit brought on behalf of a tenant in Worcester's Lincoln Village. In the lawsuit, the tenant alleged that, among other issues, Lincoln Village failed to respond to the family's request transfer to a larger unit, which was medically necessary due to the son's disability. The lawsuit also alleged that Lincoln Village failed to waive air conditioner fees, when the tenants could show that air conditioning was necessary for a disability. In addition to monetary relief, the agreement settling the suit requires that Lincoln Village notify all tenants of their right to request the air conditioning fee waived as a reasonable accommodation and that training is provided for all employees on housing discrimination laws. Read more about the case here.


NCLC has published three new reports, all available on their website: 
- Installment Loans: Will States Protect Borrowers from a New Wave of Predatory Lending?, July 2015. A 50-state survey of gaps and strengths of laws. See how Massachusetts laws rate.
- Payday Lender Prepaid Cards: Overdraft and Junk Fees Hit Cash-Strapped Families Coming and Going, July 2015
- Debt Collection Communications: Protecting Consumers in the Digital Age, June 2015

 
People
Community Legal Services and Counseling Center welcomed Yarlennys Villaman as its new office assistant in June. Family law attorney Esther Lainé completed an eight-month position at CLSACC in July, working primarily with Haitian survivors of domestic violence.  Executive Director Barbara Mitchell is leaving CLSACC at the end of August after 30 years of working at CLSACC and Greater Boston Legal Services.  Mojdeh Rohani, CLSACC’s current associate clinical director, will be the new executive director, and housing/disability benefits attorney John Froio will step into a new role as CLSACC’s deputy director.

On September 21, Teresita (Tere) Ramos will join the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute as the new statewide language access attorney. Tere comes to MLRI from the Disability Law Center, where she is an attorney and Equal Justice Works fellow. Her EJW project at DLC has focused on access to special education for Spanish-speaking children in Massachusetts, including targeted advocacy in Lawrence. Tere has organized and advocated on behalf of limited English proficient (LEP) children and families, especially as it relates to LEP parents' inclusion and participation in their children's special education services. Tere is a graduate of Wellesley College, the Georgetown School of Foreign Service, and Boston College Law School. She is a native Spanish speaker, and is fluent in English, Portuguese, Italian and French and conversant in Chinese, Catalan, Basic Arabic, German and Russian.


Tom Mela, MAC's managing attorney and Children's Law Support project director, is retiring in late August. Highlights of his career include a 22-year lawsuit to secure better services for children with disabilities, and pushing through the school discipline law, which ensures children who are excluded from school still have access to education. Read more about Tom's work and legacy. Tom will be succeeded by Janine Solomon, who worked for the Disability Law Center for 18 years and then represented parents in special education cases at the law firm of Kotin, Crabtree & Strong.

Zoe Cronin, housing attorney and director of annual giving at Greater Boston Legal Services, has been appointed acting director of development with the departure of GBLS' chief development officer.
Awards & Recognition
In June Senior Attorney Betsey Crimmins of GBLS’ Elder, Health and Disability Unit was awarded the Innovator of the Year Award by the Massachusetts Councils on Aging for her elder abuse work.  Attorney Crimmins leads GBLS' Elder Abuse Prevention Project.

In April CLSACC’s Legal Director Ellen Wilbur received the Access to Justice Award from the Mass. Office of Victim Assistance “for connecting low-income domestic violence victims with needed legal advocacy services and resources." 

CLSACC immigration attorney Lisa Weinberg and staff paralegal Karen Bobadilla were both recognized as 2015 Michael Maggio Pro Bono Honorees by the American Immigration Lawyers Association for their work on behalf of detained women and children at the Artesia Detention Center in New Mexico last fall.
Media Highlights
These are just a few highlights of recent media coverage.  For a full list, visit the News section of the MLAC website. 

Prisoners sue state, faulting treatment for hepatitis C (Boston Globe)
Two inmates recently filed a class-action lawsuit against the state for denying prisoners in later stages of hepatitis C infection access to the most effective drugs for treating the disease.

Why Boston Students Created A ‘Know Your Rights’ App (WBUR - Learning Lab)
A group of Boston Public School students are using technology to empower peers to be aware of their rights while in school. Elizabeth McIntyre, an Equal Justice Works fellow at GBLS who works on school discipline issues, says that the 'Know Your Rights' app helps students know the laws and allows them to advocate for themselves.

Plan filed to fix Mass. Food stamp snafus (Worcester Telegram)
The Department of Transitional Assistance has filed a plan to rectify the systemic errors that led more than 100,000 people to lose access to food stamp benefits in the past year. 

Public/Private Partnership To Address Housing And Health Care For Children With Asthma (Health Affairs Blog)
Health Affairs highlights the medical-legal partnership between Community Legal Aid and UMass Memorial Medical Center, and how the collaboration has helped address health and housing needs for children at high risk for asthma. 

In Boston, Celebration And Reflection As The Americans With Disabilities Act Turns 25 (WBUR - CommonHealth Blog)
Disability Law Center Director Christine Griffin is among the advocates quoted on the progress made since the passage of the Americans With Disabilities Act 25 years ago and the work that still remains.

 
People Pages
CLICK HERE to print "People Pages," an alphabetical directory of Massachusetts Legal Services staff members and their contact information.  (Note: You must log in to MassLegalServices.org to access this list.)  You can also look up staff individually by last name using the search function on MassLegalServices.org
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