News from the Massachusetts legal aid community.
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Volume 12, Issue 1
News in this issue...
Equal Justice Coalition
Advocacy & Program Updates
Save the Date
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 May 2018.

Visit our website to read previous issues. 
Save the Date for MLAC's 35th Anniversary Gala

Please join us on Monday, June 18th as we celebrate our 35th anniversary and honor our founding executive director, Lonnie Powers. Our speakers will be the four living chief justices of the Supreme Judicial Court: Ralph Gants, Roderick Ireland, Margaret Marshall, and Herbert Wilkins. 

June 18 | 5:30-7:30 
Morgan Lewis | 1 Federal Street| Boston
Equal Justice Coalition
Walk to the Hill Recap & Budget Campaign Update

The 19th annual Walk to the Hill for Civil Legal Aid, held on January 25, brought nearly 700 attorneys and advocates to the State House in support of additional state funding for legal aid. Speakers included Chief Justice Ralph Gants of the Supreme Judicial Court, the presidents of the Boston and Massachusetts Bar Associations, and a legal aid client who shared how Greater Boston Legal Services worked for seven years to help get benefits for her daughter, who suffers from sickle cell disease. Walk to the Hill received significant positive media coverage, including in the Boston Globe, the Gloucester Times, and other outlets. On January 26, Governor Baker released his FY19 budget proposal, which included a 1% increase in funding for legal aid, for a total appropriation of $18.18 million. We are continuing our advocacy for additional funding with legislators and other supporters, and await the release of the House Ways & Means budget in mid-April, so please stay tuned for our action alerts. To learn more about this year's budget campaign, download our fact sheet

Know someone with a compelling legal aid story to share?

The Equal Justice Coalition is continuing the project it began last year to show how legal aid can change the lives of low-income people across Massachusetts. Online and through social media, #LegalAidChangesLives highlights the stories of legal aid clients, attorneys, and community members to educate the public about the importance of legal aid, support the EJC’s budget campaign, and demonstrate the many ways civil legal aid can help vulnerable people. If you or someone you know has a story to share, please contact Catherine Rizos at
Advocacy & Program Updates
An Important Victory for Students With Sickle Cell Disease

In a voluntary resolution agreement signed January 30, Boston Public Schools (BPS) has agreed to recognize sickle cell disease (SCD) as a disability that interferes with a student’s education and to implement policy changes to ensure that students with SCD receive a free and appropriate education as required by law.  The agreement resolves a complaint filed by the Center for Law and Education and Massachusetts Law Reform Institute in January 2015 with the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights (OCR).  Under the agreement, with monitoring by OCR, BPS has agreed to: establish an SCD advisory group; develop and implement policies addressing the identification and comprehensive evaluation of students with SCD to determine the extent of a student’s need for accommodations/services, including supplemental instruction to make up for missed classroom instruction; develop an outreach and public awareness campaign about SCD including student/parental rights; and develop and implement training for BPS administrators and teaching staff on SCD and the new policies.

New Social Media Account for CLAVC

The statewide Civil Legal Aid for Victims of Crime Initiative (CLAVC) recently launched a Twitter account. Be sure to follow it if you don't already! 

Free Online Resources from the National Consumer Law Center

NCLC is sponsoring three webinars on criminal justice debt this spring. Watch recordings of the first two (Introduction to Harvard's Criminal Justice Policy Program's 50-State Criminal Justice Debt Law Web Tool and Affirmative Litigation of Criminal Justice Debt Abuses-Theory and Practice) and stay tuned for more info on the final webinar, Ensuring that People Are Not Jailed Due to Poverty: Reforming Policies and Representing Clients in Criminal Justice Debt "Ability to Pay" Proceedings.

Legal Analysis
NCLC Digital Library articles:
· Over 30 Recent Decisions Interpret New CFPB Mortgage Servicing Regs, August 2017
· Key Steps to Minimize Risk After Equifax Data Breach, September 2017
· Two Novel Ways to Eliminate a Foreclosure, September 2017
· What Every FDCPA Practitioner Needs to Know About Spokeo, September 2017
· Analysis of CFPB’s Final Rule Regulating Payday Loans, October 2017
· New Rights for Homeowners Seeking Loan Modifications, October 2017
· 12 Ways to Avoid Arbitration Even After Congress Overturned the CFPB Arbitration Rule, October 2017
· Game-Changing New Bankruptcy Rules, December 2017
· Ninth Circuit: Collector Hired by State Agency Cannot Require Arbitration, January 2018
· Six Key Pointers in Advising Clients at Tax Time, January 2018
· The TCPA Year in Review: New Precedent re Challenges to Unwanted Calls, Texts, & Faxes, February 2018
· Last Minute Relief for Foreclosed and Struggling Homeowners Now Filing Their Taxes, February 2018
Reports & Issue Briefs:
· Predatory Installment Lending in 2017: States Battle to Restrain High-Cost Loans, August 2017
· Auto Add-Ons Add Up: How Dealer Discretion Drives Excessive, Arbitrary, and Discriminatory Pricing, October 2017
· Guide: Obtaining Mortgage Loan Relief for Disaster Victims, February 2018 
Issue briefs:
· Residential Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Loans: The perils of easy money for clean energy improvements, September 2017
· U.S. House bill would allow lawyers to abuse consumers in debt collection lawsuits, September 2017
· Federal Student Loan Relief after a Disaster: Your Guide to Short-Term and Long-Term Options, January 2018 (1-page Guide to Short-Term Relief with Two Quick Calls)
· Consumer Debt Collection Facts, February 2018

Recently updated National Consumer Law Center Legal Treatises

Fair Credit Reporting, Ninth Edition (Digital & Print)
The leading FCRA treatise now includes 2017 changes to reporting of public records data and medical debt, credit freezes and thaws, and thousands of new decisions. Learn more about what’s included, or begin reading Chapter One for free.

Collection Actions, 4th Edition (Digital & Print)
Everything you need to defend lawsuits collecting credit card, medical, or other consumer debt. Print subscribers to Collection Actions receive their copies in mid-October; all subscribers have digital access now. Learn more about what's included; read the first chapter for free.
Save the Date
June 4 - MetroWest Legal Services hosts its annual Nancy King Memorial Golf Tournament. This year, the tournament will be held at a new location, Charter Oaks Country Club in Hudson. Learn more and register on the MWLS website.

June 14-15 - Save the date for the National Consumer Law Center's Summer Mortgage Conference in Indianapolis. A new Reverse Mortgage Intensive has been added! 
The Disability Law Center welcomes a new executive director, Marlene Sallo. Attorney Sallo  takes over for Christine Griffin, who recently retired. Sallo is a longtime champion of the rights of vulnerable children and people with disabilities. She previously worked as a special education teacher and as an attorney specializing in child welfare, juvenile justice, and special education law. She served as chief of staff and senior counsel for the U.S. Department of Justice's Community Relations Service, and was appointed by President Obama to serve as staff director of the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights. Learn more about Marlene on the DLC website

The National Consumer Law Center welcomed attorney Brian Highsmith in late 2017 as a two-year Skadden Fellow. Brian's work will focus on criminal justice debt and the criminalization of poverty.

MetroWest Legal Services welcomes back attorney Abigail Shirk, who will be splitting her time between family law and immigration law. Abbey worked at MWLS in 2014 doing family law and has spent her career focused on working with domestic violence survivors. Amanda Petrakis, who joined MWLS last year, will be moving full time to the Immigration Unit and will be focusing on work with unaccompanied minors funded by the Greater Boston Immigrant Defense Fund.

Massachusetts Advocates for Children recently bid farewell to three dedicated employees: longtime Project Director Kim Janey, who recently took office as a Boston City Councilor for District 7; Autism Center Advocate Catherine Mayes, who retired after 10 years at MAC; and Director of Development Carol Savage, who has moved on to other state and national advocacy work.  
Awards & Recognition
Two legal services attorneys were recently honored with the Boston Center for Independent Living’s (BCIL’s) Marie Feltin Award, which honors individuals who exemplify the pioneering spirit of the late Dr. Marie Feltin, a tireless advocate for disabled and chronically-ill patients. Taramattie Doucette, acting co-managing attorney of Greater Boston Legal Services' Elder, Health and Disability Unit, was was honored for her defense of the rights of children and adults with disabilities and her mentorship of other advocates. Said GBLS Executive Director Jacquelynne Bowman, “We are pleased that Tara’s work with the MBTA accessibility case and her leadership of the Children’s Disability Project is being recognized.” Disability Law Center senior attorney Linda Landry, was honored by BCIL for being an advocate for justice and a "superstar teammate." 

MetroWest Legal Services medical-legal partnership attorney Katherine Condon Grace will be awarded the Massachusetts Bar Association's Rising Star Award at the MBA Annual Meeting on April 24. MWLS benefits attorney Margaretta Kroeger was selected as one of the MetroWest Health Foundation's 2018 Health Leadership Class.
Media Highlights
These are just a few highlights of recent media coverage. For a full list, visit the News section of the MLAC website. 

The health, safety and livelihoods of many or our neighbors depend civil legal aid (Springfield Republican)
Community Legal Aid board member Timothy Murphy's letter to the editor details how increased funding for civil legal aid can strengthen communities and help the state respond to emerging issues like the opioid crisis.

Ministering To Puerto Rico’s Pain: Civil Legal Aid Lawyers Assisting Those Seeking Mass. Refuge (WGBH News)
Greater Boston Legal Services Executive Director Jacquelynne Bowman and MLAC Executive Director Lonnie Powers detail how legal aid programs around the state have supported the resettlement of Puerto Rican residents displaced by Hurrican Maria, working to resolve housing issues, replace important legal identification papers, make insurance claims, apply for FEMA benefits, and deal with other unforeseen legal matters that arise during natural disasters.

Boston public schools agree to recognize sickle cell disease as disability (Boston Globe)
The Globe highlights the recent legal victory of the Center for Law and Education and the Massachusetts Law Reform Institute to get Boston Public Schools to recognize sickle cell disease as a disability and provide appropriate support and accommodations for students with the disease.

Disability Advocates Allege Abuse, Neglect At Kindergarten In Haverhill (WBUR)
The Disability Law Center recently reported that a kindergarten in Haverill overused restraints on students with disabilities, and punished some students by keeping them in closets, in violation of state and federal law. 

Mentally ill inmates sue Bristol sheriff over solitary confinement (Boston Globe)
Three inmates with mental illness recently filed suit against the Bristol County Jail for putting them in solitary confinement for at least 22 hours a day and denying them appropriate treatment for their illness. Attorneys from Prisoners Legal Services and the Mental Health Legal Advisors Committee interviewed more than 100 former inmates at the jail, which has a suicide rate that is twice that of other county jails in the state.
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 to access this list.)  You can also look up staff individually by last name using the search function on
Copyright © 2018 Massachusetts Legal Assistance Corporation, All rights reserved.

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