Lawyer for the Day in the Eastern Housing Program Celebrates 20 Years of Helping Pro Se Litigants

Hon. MaryLou Muirhead, Hon. Jeffrey Winik, and Hon. Wilbur P. Edwards, Jr., (Ret.) of the Housing Court with Court staff at the 20th Anniversary Celebration of the Lawyer for the Day in Eastern Housing Court Program. Click here for the full photo album.

Yesterday, volunteers, court employees, and program leadership gathered at 16 Beacon to celebrate the continued success of the Lawyer for the Day Program in the Eastern Housing Court.  Since 1999, dedicated volunteers have helped more than 18,000 tenants and landlords navigate through the Eastern Housing Court – making all the difference for individuals and families who would otherwise have to go to court alone. This is a significant milestone for the BBA and all of the dedicated volunteers who make this program possible, and we had a lot to celebrate : just this year alone, over 160 volunteer attorneys have been able to provide representation to over 400 tenants and landlords.

Remarks were given by Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court Chief Justice Ralph D. Gants and Eastern Housing Court Justices MaryLou Muirhead and Jeffrey Winik. The Justices recognized the importance of the Lawyer for the Day program in the operations of the court, and expressed gratitude that volunteers improve unrepresented litigants’ chance to prevail every day.

Volunteer Lawyers Project Staff Attorney Geraldine Gruvis-Pizarro and Executive Director Joanna Allison also presented. They honored longtime volunteers and firm partners who are essential to the program’s longevity, remarking “it takes a village to assist our clients.”  WilmerHale, Ropes & Gray, and retired WilmerHale partner Andy Cohn were recognized for their dedication to the program since its start.

If you are interested in getting involved – help is still needed.  There were close to 30,000 eviction cases in Massachusetts last year, and 92% of tenants and 30% of landlords are unrepresented statewide. Interested volunteers can find out more here.

The program is a collaboration between the Eastern Housing Court, Boston Bar Association, Volunteer Lawyers Project, Greater Boston Legal Services and Legal Services Center of Harvard Law School, and Harvard Legal Aid Bureau, and is supported by the Herbert Wiley Vaughan Fund of the Boston Bar Foundation.  The Vaughan Fund is used to support the volunteers that are the lifeblood of this program by providing supplies, equipment and training.