To The Readers Of The Metropolitan Corporate Counsel:
A hallmark of our in-house legal community in the Northeast is its generosity.One recent example is the award by the Northeast Chapter of a $5,000 grant to the Massachusetts Appleseed Center for Law and Justice, Inc. The grant is being used to hire law student interns to assist the center in its advocacy projects.
Founded in 1994, the Center harnesses the skills and resources of volunteer lawyers to address the unmet needs of vulnerable groups in Massachusetts. Those benefiting from their services include homeless children, foster children, pro se litigants, low income homeowners and other low income persons who need access to the Commonwealth's resources, such as its courts, schools, and other institutions.
The Center pursues many approaches to achieve change. Its programs improve access to legal assistance, promote legislative reform, litigate law reform cases, file friend of the court briefs and issue "white-paper" reports on issues of importance to the public.
The Center's achievements include success in the trial phase of the remedy stage of a 26-year-old case, which seeks to ensure equal educational opportunities for children who live in property-poor school districts. Another project seeks to implement the McKinney-Vento Act, a federal law to break down barriers (medical and academic records, transportation, etc.) so that children who become homeless can have the stability of going to the public schools they attended before becoming homeless.
A kinship care project seeks to find reform so that friends and relatives who are caring for the thousands of children, but are not legal guardians, can make educational and medical decisions for them, as needed. Still another project seeks to change the way the courts of the Commonwealth are funded so that every resident has equal access to the courts. Since each court is currently funded by a separate line item, not all courts get funding equal to the number and types of cases pending in them.
The Center achieves these results with a subsistence budget, supported in large part with the good will of law firms, corporate counsel and business people, who serve on its board and work on its projects and committees. I encourage your readers to join the Center's efforts whether through contributions of their time, expertise or dollars. Through their contributions they have an opportunity to gain experience, judgment and perspective, as well as meeting fine people who are dedicated to helping the underprivileged and ensuring equal access to justice.