Massachusetts Justice for All Web Page
Massachusetts Justice for All Strategic Action Plan

Strategic Planning Grant: 2016
Implementation Grant: 2018

Massachusetts is focusing on four areas of specific interest: the ecosystem of resources, consumer debt, housing and family law. Its priorities are to: help users navigate resources and expand capacity to provide a variety of types and levels of user-friendly legal assistance; take a user-focused approach and empower individuals with unmet needs to recognize and obtain necessary legal assistance; implement multi-door courthouse and collaborative approaches; use triage to rethink how to match resources to users’ needs; and focus on data collection and assessment.

Its action plan includes:

  • Supporting efforts to expand the reach of court-based self-help support;
  • Promoting increased private bar involvement in serving low- and moderate-income individuals;
  • Simplifying and improving forms, notices and court processes;
  • Raising awareness about tenant and consumer rights;
  • Expanding additional dispute resolution options; and
  • Offering tailored resources for certain cases.

Its implementation projects includes:

  1. Creating a consumer debt pilot in the Dorchester neighborhood in Boston to help consumers avert financial crisis or navigate successfully through such a crisis before or after debt collection cases are brought. You can learn more by reading the Consumer Debt Pilot Summary Report located on the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission website.

  2. Creating a housing pilot in Lawrence (Northeast Massachusetts) to achieve housing stability for households facing eviction before eviction complaints are filed in court.
  • Shifting focus “upstream” from litigation by making key resources available to landlords and tenants before a complaint is filed to preserve tenancies where possible; and
  • Creating Housing Stabilization Centers (HSCs) in targeted communities, where a landlord and tenant could access the resources needed to stabilize a tenancy and avoid the need for a court eviction action.

A Housing Pilot Summary Report is forthcoming and will be available on the Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission’s website.

Point persons: Chip Phinney (Supreme Judicial Court) and Carolyn Goodwin (Massachusetts Access to Justice Commission)