History of civil legal aid in central and western Mass.
In 1951, the Legal Aid Society of Worcester (LASW) was created, followed by Central Mass. Legal Services (CMLS) in 1968. The two agencies provided services in Worcester County. In 1972, Western Mass. Legal Services (WMLS) was created out of a consolidation of four pre-existing organizations providing legal aid services in western Mass. In 1982, the Legal Assistance Corporation of Central Massachusetts (LACCM) was formed by the merger of LASW and CMLS, serving Worcester County. In 1996, following changes in federal support for legal aid, the Massachusetts Justice Project (MJP) was created to provide services throughout central and western Mass. In 2011, LACCM and WMLS consolidated, creating Community Legal Aid, Inc. (CLA). In 2014, CLA consolidated with MJP and became the single and unique provider of legal aid services in central and western Mass. As part of this reorganization, CLA created a wholly-owned subsidiary, Central West Justice Center (CWJC), to provide additional services to clients in central and western Mass.
To download a pdf file containing a longer, more detailed, history of CLA in Worcester, written by the Hon. Francis R. Fecteau (Ret.), click here.
Benefits of Legal Aid to the Commonwealth
Legal aid benefits both clients and their communities by saving everyone money. In 2013, legal aid services generated an estimated $28 million in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, through new federal revenue, other benefits and cost savings.
“Most Americans don’t realize that you can have your home taken away, your children taken away and you can be a victim of domestic violence but you have no constitutional right to a lawyer to protect you.”
Jim Sandman, President,
Legal Services Corporation