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Significant Events in GBLS' History
1900 A group of Boston attorneys in private practice found the Boston Legal Aid Society (BLAS) to meet the civil legal needs of the poor. BLAS primarily serves immigrants, with an emphasis on individual case work.
1964 Boston Legal Assistance Project (BLAP) founded as part of the War on Poverty under the U.S. Office of Economic Opportunity.
1971 Cambridge and Somerville Legal Services (CASLS) is established.
1974 Legal Services Corporation (LSC) is established by Congress to fund legal services programs and becomes our primary funder.
1976 Greater Boston Legal Services is formed by the merger of Boston Legal Aid Society and the Boston Legal Assistance Project.
1981 Major cuts are made to federal funding of legal services.
1996 GBLS relinquishes $1,400,000 in federal funding due to major restrictions imposed by Congress. (Any of recipients’ funding from any source could not be used for class-action work, representing immigrants, or advocacy with state and federal agencies.)
GBLS determines we cannot fulfill our mission if we adhere to these restrictions. We choose to withdraw from receipt of federal LSC funds. This loss results in our closing our neighborhood offices and being forced to lay off 20% of our staff. GBLS and CASLS merge to reduce administrative expenses.
1994 Boston's legal community's support of it Capital Campaign enables GBLS to and purchase 197 Friend Street as a permanent home.
1999 Increased giving by a broad array of donors results in staff numbers returning to pre-1996 major budget cut level. Numbers of clients served rise for the first time in three years.
2000 GBLS celebrates its Centennial Anniversary and pledges 100 more years of providing quality legal services to poor people in the greater Boston area.
2001 GBLS's donors contribute $2,000,000 to the Access to Justice Endowment Campaign to permanently endow attorney positions at GBLS.
2006 GBLS settles a major class action suit against the Massachusetts Bay Transportation Authority (T) that will greatly improve access to public transportation for the 200,000 people with disabilities who live in the T’s service area. This is particularly important for those who are poor and have no alternative form of transportation to get to work, school, or doctor’s appointments.