70 Years of Fighting for Justice in Central & Western Massachusetts
70 Years of Fighting for Justice

About 70 Years of Fighting for Justice

Welcome to Community Legal Aid's 70th Anniversary Campaign

Access to justice should not depend on how much money one has. For 70 years CLA has provided free civil legal services to our low-income and elderly neighbors, helping them fight for life’s basic necessities – a place to live, protection from violence, and support for their families. Due to high medical bills, unstable housing, and unemployment or reduced hours in low-wage jobs, many of these folks have been hit hard by the COVID-19 crisis.

Community Legal Aid exists to close the “justice gap” by providing free civil legal services to help low-income and elderly residents of Central & Western Massachusetts. The vast majority of Community Legal Aid’s clients have household incomes that fall below 125% of the federal poverty level (just $2,729 monthly for a family of four), and truly cannot afford to hire a private attorney.  

As we confront the emerging challenges of our changing world, we need your support of Community Legal Aid to ensure that we are here for our clients in the decades to come.

When justice is denied to one of us, it is denied to all of us. We believe deeply (and hope you do as well) that it is our responsibility to help respond to the needs of our neighbors, give them a fair chance at justice, and educate the public on why equal protection under the law matters.

Whatever you are able to give, please know that you are joining in the fight for justice for some of the most vulnerable residents of Central and Western Massachusetts. Thank you.

description goes here

Our Mission

Community Legal Aid helps ensure justice and fairness in our communities by providing free civil legal services to the low-income and elderly residents of the five counties of Western and Central Massachusetts (Berkshire, Franklin, Hampden, Hampshire, and Worcester), and maintains full-time offices in Worcester, Fitchburg, Springfield, Northampton, and Pittsfield. Through its advocacy, Community Legal Aid works to assure fairness for all in the justice system, protecting homes, livelihoods, health and families. 

For more information, please visit www.communitylegal.org.

Why Community Legal Aid needs your help

Although the pandemic along with the economic crisis it triggered are both far from over, and this crisis has show us just how essential legal aid is to the health and stability of our communitiesCommunity Legal Aid has seen a surge in the number of people seeking help to stave off eviction, access unemployment benefits, or apply for food stamps. Others needed our assistance because their children with disabilities were unable to participate in virtual schooling or because they faced increased family violence as they quarantined in their homes.

We need your support of Community Legal Aid in honor of our 70th Anniversary! 

Please consider becoming an  Justice Protector with a gift of $1,000, which could prevent a family from becoming homeless. A gift of $750 could help a client appeal an unemployment denial. Making a gift  at the Justice Patron level of $500 could help a child receive the special education services needed to succeed in school. And a gift of $250 would make you a Justice Ally could help a domestic violence survivor obtain an abuse prevention order, and a gift of $100 could train a community group to fight injustice.

Whatever you are able to give, please know that you are joining in the fight for justice for some of the most vulnerable residents of our communities.

How Your Support Makes a Difference

When the pandemic closed businesses and schools and changed our way of life, Community Legal Aid quickly adapted and expanded the work we do to meet the needs of our clients.

  • Our benefits unit pivoted to assist the increased number of workers filing claims for unemployment insurance. In one of many such cases, our advocacy successfully helped a single mother reverse an incorrect denial of her benefits, working around technical glitches that occurred during the virtual appeal hearing with the Department of Unemployment Assistance.
  • Our housing attorneys adjusted their work on behalf of tenants facing emergency housing issues by representing clients in telephonic or virtual hearings with the Housing Court. As an example, our advocacy stopped an eviction for an elderly tenant who was paying her rent and would have likely become homeless but for our intervention.
  • As the incidence of domestic violence has increased in our service area, our family law unit has focused on helping survivors secure protection orders from courts operating remotely. This included successfully obtaining a one-year extension of an abuse protection order for a teenage client abused by a family member. 
  • With schools providing remote instruction, our education attorneys turned their attention to helping families get school services in place for their children at home. In one typical case, our advocates assisted a family in obtaining tailored services for a student with special needs for whom the virtual classroom posed unique challenges.

Michelle's Story

A single mother of two children, “Michelle” worked as a personal care assistant, a job that gave her flexibility to work around her children’s school and daycare schedules. In early March, the school and daycare her children attended closed due to the pandemic. With no one to watch her children, Michelle was forced to stop working. After her employer, incorrectly, told the Department of Unemployment Assistance that Michelle had stopped working without reason, she was denied unemployment benefits.

She contacted Community Legal Aid for help. Staff Attorney Daniel Bahls assisted Michelle with her appeal at the Department of Unemployment Assistance, and Michelle was able to demonstrate that she had been forced to leave her job due to the necessity of caring for her children during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Hearing Officer reversed her denial and awarded her benefits dating back to early March.

Thank you to our 70th  Sponsors

Justice Leaders

Seder & Chandler, LLP. Careers and Current Employee Profiles | Find  referrals | LinkedIn            Brand

Justice Protectors

Justice Allies

Alavi & Braza, PC
Coghlin Electrical Contractors
Fierst Bloomberg Ohm, LLP
Franklin County Bar Association
Gruber & Tripp, LLC
Hampshire County Bar Association
Michael J. Considine & Shawn P. Leary, Attorneys at Law
Mountain Dearborn & Whiting, LLP
Shatz Schwartz & Fentin, PC
Storrow Law Offices
Women's Bar Association

​Your logo could appear here. Learn more about the benefits of becoming a sponsor.